Creative Academy workshop

Projects intern Lily reflects on Creative Academy workshop with Hannah and Lucy...

As part of their BA (Hons) Dance course, students have a whole week dedicated to workshops with professional companies who come in to lead professional classes. Artistic director Lucy, trainee dancer Hannah and projects intern Lily, went to Creative Academy in Slough to lead four workshops for the 1st & 2nd years

As part of the workshop Lucy led a company class, it was interesting to see how the students responded to the style of teaching and the methods and technique from Stopgap. Some of the first years needed encouragement in what they were doing but were all very enthusiastic and willing to try. It’s good for them to have diversity in their training to see which exercises revealed their weakness; on which they can now improve. For example, they could all do straight press-ups very well but as soon as we did them in downward dog position you could tell they were working a set of neglected muscles! They got stuck in to the class and it gave them insight into how a professional company takes class, in particular the methods of an inclusive company. Which for many of them is something they’ve little experience or knowledge of. It showed them that just because Stopgap is an inclusive company, it doesn’t mean things are “easy” or at a reduced pace - we still work hard and push every one in the company.

Hannah led a section of repertoire from The Awakening. They took to it well; I just think they found it hard to transition into a different style of movement and choreography. In terms of The Awakening, its very grounded, forceful, focused and it shifts a lot. Which understandably is hard for them to grasp in 45 minutes, but definitely something to be aware of for auditions. It was great to see Hannah teaching so confidently, and its good experience for her to be working with an older, more focused group without the behavioral issues that a youth group can present!

The second years got stuck into the class and really challenged themselves in the workshop; pretty much literally throwing themselves into floor work, really enjoyed their energy! It was good to see Kathryn, from Sg Troop, who studies at Creative Academy; she’s doing well and is hopefully enjoying her time as a second year. With one of the second year groups I could tell there were definitely some jazz dancers, I think they needed to pay closer attention to what Hannah was demonstrating; versatility is key in the industry. You could differentiate between the students who knew their bodies and had the enthusiasm required to try out something different.

The students were lovely and there were individuals who took great interest in what they were learning and took interest in the company. It's momentous for them to be taught by a learning disabled teacher, the progression that Stopgap is taking in their teacher and dancer training is incredible. Hannah did a brilliant job with the students and Lucy is an excellent teacher/dancer/director/choreographer! So I feel especially privileged to be so involved with the company.

I also asked Hannah a couple of questions on how she thought the day went…
What went well for you in the workshops?
I thought the sessions went well because they all found the company class challenging and how they worked together as a group on the choreography. 

What have you learnt from your experience teaching at the workshops?
I have learnt that each group achieved something in the choreography task because of the idea of the costumes, the atmosphere and the way it’s choreographed outside. 

How did they receive the rep you taught them from The Awakening? (Did they do well? What did they find difficult? Did anything stand out to you?)
I thought they did really well picking up the movement. I have been noticing how challenging it is for them by the ideas behind the choreography. A couple of the participants in one of the groups did find the 'over the shoulder flip' difficult so I gave them a bit of advice to think about.



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