Monday Musing with Nicky

Nicky updates us on her year with all of our lovely groups.

It is that time once more, when the school’s have closed and peace reigns over the county, that I put pen to paper and catch you up with all the news from our youth dance community.

And again, it has been a busy one. 

Firstly, we need to say a massive well done to Linkable and This Is Us, who successfully passed their IRIS Dance Skills assessment in June.  For both groups it was the culmination of many, many months of exploration, learning and practice.  I know as the teacher for Linkable, I was immensely proud of the way they had developed over a sustained period of time and really worked on the essential skills required for each exercise.  In broader terms, I was especially proud of the way they began to develop as a team, creating dances, performing together and generally supporting each other’s learning.

This Is Us, under the guidance of Hannah Rotchell, has also gone from strength to strength with their membership growing over the last couple of years and lots of performance opportunities being sought in their local area of Tunbridge.  They even starred in a film which you can find on the front page of the school’s website where they meet:  I had the absolute pleasure to be a guest teacher for the group and had a fantastic time discovering their translations for exercises and the groups use of language for things that were familiar to me.  It was almost like they had created their own ‘dialect’ as we have at our Linkable, Farnham and Guildford IRIS groups.  We are all translating this common dance language and becoming experts!

Just before the festive season Farnham Youth Company were very lucky to be selected to appear on TV as part of BBC Children in Needs fundraising appeal and get to meet the very lovely Edith Bowman.  She interviewed one of our dancers – Nicole and then got to watch the group dancing together, led by the wonderful Cherie Brennan.

Christmas saw all of our groups putting the syllabus to one side for a term in order to concentrate on the highlight of the year – the Winter Platform.  ‘Festive Folk’ was the theme and title and we all began with folk music as the starting point.  We as teachers had a day of CPD with Lucy Bennett to help with our choreography and planning.  Our focus and attention was definitely honed and the day certainly gave me fresh impetus to make work.  An added extra this platform, was the inclusion of all the teachers dancing on stage alongside the groups.  The finale was quite a spectacle as we all converged on stage to thunderous applause from a small but very enthusiastic audience.  The only sad part of this evening was the big hole left by This Is Us who were unable to make the journey due to awful weather conditions.  They were sorely missed, but got the chance to perform their dance later in the new year and as part of their IRIS assessment.  The culmination of a year of hard work, dedication, kindness and effort meant that Anya Bedwell-Garcia won Dancer of the Year 2017.  Well done Anya!

Spring time saw a return to the IRIS syllabus for most of our groups and a chance for Stepping Stones, our partnership group to re-visit their festive folk dance “When the Doorbell Rings” and perform it at the Maltings youth arts festival ‘Spark 2018.’  They did a superb job in front of a packed theatre and showed how much they loved performing.

March saw Troop performing a little further afield than Farnham and on to the stage in Chichester at the Festival Theatre as part of the CFT’s first inclusive arts festival.  Their dance was also a new foray into working with live musicians and Eden Blacklist played live for the dancers at the Theatre and then again at the second Dance in the Meadow Festival in June.  A scorching hot day which saw a good 1000 people spend the afternoon watching high quality dance from a diverse range of groups based in Surrey.

Finally, to round up our busy year, Stepping Stones went on the search for Otters as part of the Farnham Town Council’s annual entry into South East in Bloom.  This is the fourth year that Stepping Stones has danced with The Dance Movement’s community groups in Farnham in Bloom and although a lot smaller this year, it really hit the spot with the town’s mayor and the judges.  “Best one yet,” said Iain Lynch, the Town’s Clerk.  The River Wey is like a corridor through Farnham Town and has become so healthy in recent times there are clear signs that river otters might be making a return to Surrey.  They have been spotted in Hampshire and fingers crossed these amazing creatures will be over the border soon.  The Farnham in Bloom dancers became all the animals that live in, on or near the River Wey and 60 local young people gathered together in the finale.  A splendid end to a splendid year of dance!

If you would like to find out more about our youth companies as a dancer or volunteer, then please get in touch – [email protected]


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