CUDS had the privilege of hosting a ballet class on Zoom, led by former Rambert dancer, Salomé Pressac. The class was orientated on refining barre technique but with a twist. Rather than using classical/piano music as is the norm within ballet, Salome used music from a whole range of genres which was refreshing and motivating. We really enjoyed the fact that the exercises were technique orientated, as it has been hard to keep up training over lockdown. After barre exercises we moved to the centre for some tendus and then had a much needed stretch at the end. Salome was such a generous and encouraging teacher, helping us to focus on enjoying the movement and letting go of tension. It was great to catch-up with Salome for a brief Q&A about her time in Rambert and Rambert 2 - we are very excited for her future projects, be that related to dance or her other business endeavours. A great way to end a challenging term in lockdown!
On Sunday 7th March we were delighted to welcome dance movement psychotherapist Yeva Feldman, Birmingham Royal Ballet first soloist Kit Holder, sport and exercise therapist Dr Irina Roncaglia and advocate, educator and researcher Erin Sanchez for a discussion on dance and psychology, covering a range of topics including dance and mental health, motivation, anxiety, performance psychology and dance therapy. To begin, we heard from each panellist individually, who explained some of their interests and research in the field. Kit told us about his experiences with motivation as a dancer in lockdown and Yeva about her work with groups of young people suffering from eating disorders and the way that dance has helped them. Erin then discussed the importance of mental health awareness in the dance industry, with Irina discussing the dance research she has carried out, and the way that a dancer's mental health may be compromised. This was followed by questions from the audience a discussion between panellists, in which they explained their research and experiences further. This was an absolutely fantastic opportunity to learn from world-class dancers and psychologists, and to gain further insight into the way that mental health is discussed and dealt with in the industry. We are so grateful to our panellists for taking the time to talk to us!
On 5th March, we held our final social as a committee, which was a movie magic evening, learning the dance to 'We're all in this together' from the first High School Musical film! Led by our wonderful socials officer Ella, we learnt the routine to the chorus, which was more quick and challenging than we had realised, and was so much fun! It was a great opportunity to get together and dance in a fun way to celebrate the end of term!
On Saturday 27th February, we had the wonderful opportunity to have a class taught by renowned Jazz artist Dollie Henry, who founded the dance company BOP and has also performed on the West End, in theatre plays, TV and film. Dollie led a Jazz warmup, to classic Jazz music, and taught us some choreography to music by Duke Ellington. We focussed on making our movements sharp and clean, like they would be on the West End stage and Dollie encouraged us to imagine being on stage to really help with our performance, despite being in our own homes. Dollie then chatted to us about her experiences as a dancer and founding her own company, which was so inspiring and encouraging. It was amazing to learn from Dollie’s extensive expertise and she was so full of energy, it would be wonderful to have her for another class!
On Saturday 13th February, we were delighted to welcome Rambert's Simone Damburg Wurtz, who led a contemporary class for us. This class included a warm up and a number of exercises which worked through the legs, feet, core and arms, including some variations which included triplets and adage. Simone then taught us some of her own choreography from her work 'Rift,' before answering some of our questions about her choreography and her life as a dancer for Rambert. This was an incredibly inspiring class, and it was a real pleasure to be taught by Simone and to learn more about her work.
We were delighted that Kit Holder, a first soloist with Birmingham Royal Ballet, hosted a Christmas ballet workshop for CUDS via Zoom at the end of Michaelmas term. Kit led us through a barre before teaching us 'The Dance of the Mirlitons' from the Peter Wright production of 'The Nutcracker,' a variation which appears in the second act of the ballet in the land of sweets. We watched a performance of this dance together before learning it and performing it together, even recreating some of the patterns created by the group of dancers through Zoom! It was wonderful to learn from Kit and to hear about his experiences performing with Birmingham Royal Ballet, and this was the perfect event to get us into the festive spirit!
On Monday 10th August, we were fortunate enough to welcome the wonderful Ruth Brill for a choreography workshop to help us with our summer dance project. We began with a discussion about ourselves and our dance interests, followed by a short warm up barre to get us moving. Ruth and Jasmine, our events officer, had together chosen a piece of music for the project from Cadenza, an a cappella group based in the university. After listening to the music and sharing our initial thoughts, we started coming up with our own ideas. We began individually creating approximately eight counts in whatever style came most naturally to us, with different people incorporating aspects of ballet, contemporary, jazz and street, among others. We then experimented with tempo and “feel” before collaborating to create a short section involving snippets from everyone’s initial eight counts. Working together both with Ruth and other dancers from across Cambridge was a hugely exciting experience and we can’t wait to continue with this project through the summer!
We were really honoured to host the fantastic dancer, choreographer and teacher Gerrard Martin for a contemporary class via Zoom on Tuesday 28th July. After beginning the session with a warm-up, Gerrard took us through some technical exercises that allowed us to work on our strength and flexibility before doing some small jumps. He then gave us two minutes to do some improvisation, thinking about expanding within the space and using each part of the body. To finish, he taught us a sequence that included floorwork. At the end, there was even time to ask him a few questions about his work as a dancer and choreographer. The class was really fun and a fantastic way for us to keep up our contemporary over the summer. Gerrard was a wonderful teacher who allowed us to move creatively whilst developing our technique and strength. We hope to be able to work with him in person one day!
For our second online watch party, we streamed Phoenix Dance Theatre's 'Windrush: Movement of the People', a wonderful piece exploring the Windrush immigration and its long-term impact and the racism and prejudice that continues to haunt this event in our history. After watching the show, we held a discussion on the Facebook page for the event in which a number of us commented on how the performance implicitly explored the impact Windrush had not only on society, but also on the arts, as it incorporated a range of costumes, musical styles and movement languages that have been inherited by the UK from the Caribbean. We also discussed the symbolism of the props, costumes and staging. Overall this was a brilliant opportunity for us to explore and discuss repertoire that is so relevant both within the arts industry and in wider society.