On the evening of Wednesday 24th June, Neža Dumas, a teacher based in Cambridge specialising in Sexy Commercial, Twerking and Dancehall, led a beginners' Female Dancehall workshop for our dancers. The session concentrated on wining, the waistline movements that form the basis of this style of movement, and took us through some of the basic steps and isolations. Neža then taught us a routine based on these movements. All of our dancers were new to this style of dance, and it was a really fantastic experience for us to learn something different to support our training. As well as being a fantastic workout, the session was really good fun and Neža taught us a lot about the history and culture of Female Dancehall. She also focused on making sure we all felt empowered and confident. If you would like to learn more about what Neža does, you can check out Sweat! Dance Fitness, her studio in Cambridge which offers workout classes as well as workshops in her specialist styles: https://www.sweatdf.co.uk/
On the afternoon of Friday 19th June, we held our first online class; a session with Céline Gittens, Principal of Birmingham Royal Ballet. Céline took us through an hour's class which covered a range of exercises at the barre and in the centre, including pirouettes and some warm-up jumps. We then held a Q&A in which participants asked questions about Céline's career and her views on the dance world in light of COVID-19. This was an extremely insightful and inspiring session in which we were able to dance along with Céline, who had designed exercises that focused on musicality and quality of movement. We learned a lot about the life of a dancer, hearing about what it was like to tour, Céline's progression from dance school to the company, and her views on the company's future under the direction of Carlos Acosta. We're so grateful to Céline for working with us, and hope that we will be able to replicate this event in a studio setting in the near future!
On 12th June, CUDS hosted our first online event - a showing of Spectrum Dance Theater's SHOT, choreographed by Donald Byrd. This piece is an extremely relevant and thought-provoking reflection on police brutality towards black people in the USA, using clips and speeches as well as movement to present the issue to audiences. As well as watching the show together, we also discussed it on our Facebook page, thinking about how Byrd used different performance elements to convey meaning. This was a really wonderful opportunity for our dancers to learn about the Black Lives Matter movement in the context of dance and performance, and a fantastic way for us to reflect on our own engagement with these issues.