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Being An Apprentice Dancer
Being an apprentice with 2Faced Dance Company has been the best way that I can imagine bridging the gap between being in education and being a professional dancer. This is because they have pushed me in every aspect within the dance industry from dancing and choreographing to what goes on in the office and everything in between.
I originally left college thinking that I only wanted to create work and have my own company, which I would still love to do, but this was because it was all that I thought that I was good at. Tamsin has given me back that passion for performing that I almost lost nearing the end of my training. Also having my own company, I now know, would not be as easy as I thought. I have discovered that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of a dance company and I have now learnt quite a lot about each area.
One of the biggest things for me was being in a studio and working with dancers who all wanted to be there and love what they are doing, people with a drive and passion that I found it very easy to feed off of which made such a huge difference.
For the first few weeks of my apprenticeship we worked on KAPOW our small scale outdoor work which is something that has always interested me and I haven’t had much of a chance to do work like this. Working on developing this piece and, for me, mostly on developing the characterisation was a great experience which has exposed me to other ways of working. To get my first experience performing KAPOW on Sunday the 19th of July at Bristol Harbourside Festival was great as Tamsin really had a lot of trust in me to send me to Bristol to perform the piece for the first time in front of an audience. This gave me even more of a confidence boost which got me eager to start Dreaming in Code.
Next on my adventure I travelled to Edinburgh to stay with the company for a week while they performed at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival which was a valuable experience to see, and get to take part in what all goes on before the show and behind the scenes. My time in Edinburgh was spent flyering on The Royal Mile with the dancers and meeting lots of people from other groups. I also watched the show each night and took notes and also did the warm up pre-show every night. I also did get in an get out each night as well as swapped the set in the interval. Edinburgh Fringe Festival overall was an amazingly rewarding experience as not only did I get to do everything that the company did, I also got to see a lot of shows and meet people that the dancers knew, networking and making new contacts.
Once arriving back from Edinburgh I had my first block couple of weeks in the office learning about all of the things that go on behind the scene to do with future tours, workshops and community classes. During this time my tasks varied from distributing flyers to booking travel and accommodation for coming tours. Along with this I had to source contacts for schools in the areas where we would be touring to. This was a really valuable task as I know that when I have my own company I will have to do this. Throughout the month of September we, as a company, all partook in training with Geese Theatre to help us when teaching children in pupil referral units which was our next project Dance Traits.
Dance Traits started on September 30th ran until December 18th. This project was especially challenging for me as teaching was never my strongest aspect but since joining the company I have done quite a lot of teaching both with people and on my own for several different projects including delivering workshops for The Trench Tour, Teaching and choreographing for 2Faced’s Summer School and I have also taught some of our weekly community classes. This all combined with the training from Geese Theatre had me well prepared for the teaching aspect but I was just a tad unsure of actually being in control of a class of twenty children who all have different needs. Luckily I had Chris there as well who had previously done a project like this and he passed on everything that he knew making the whole experience a whole lot easier. This project started slow but soon we started to see great progress from the kids and this made the whole experience very rewarding. The end show turned out to be emotional for a couple of the teachers when they saw how far some of the pupils had come.
One of my favourite parts of my apprenticeship so far, following closely behind performing KAPOW, was going on tour as Tamsin while she was in India. I travelled to The Point in Eastleigh, LICA in Lancaster and Connaught Theatre in Worthing and did what Tamsin would usually do. This consisted of doing the get in the day before, helping with the rigging of the lights and the setting of everything including making sure that front of house had everything that they needed and checking ticket sales. This gave me a chance to experience a completely different side of touring with / running a dance company.
Overall my time so far with 2Faced Dance Company has been unbelievable. I really have not had a dull moment, they have kept me busy and constantly challenged me to push myself in every aspect.
By Kieran Shannon,
Apprentice Dancer, 2Faced Dance