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.
On Tuesday 7th July, we were lucky to be joined by the wonderful Marta Scott, who is a performer, choreographer and teacher living in Brighton. Not only has she choreographed pieces for Notting Hill Carnival on multiple occasions, but she has also worked for the London School of Samba, which is the oldest samba school in the country, and runs her own dance company, which focuses on inclusivity and empowerment. These ethos really came across in her class with us, which began with an introduction to samba as a style, before she taught us some of the basic samba steps. We learned how to practise these in order to execute them more quickly, and then she took us through some routines which worked on samba technique, fitness and confidence. Thanks to Marta's infectious personality and the wonderful routines she put together, all participants had a really wonderful time and came out of the class having been immersed in the samba carnival spirit.
For more information on Marta's work, check out her website: https://msdance.org.uk/
On the morning of Wednesday July 1st West End performer Cris Penfold gave an online jazz class for our dancers. Cris led an energetic class with a warm up that included moving stretches with an emphasis on dancing through positions, kicks, and turns. He then taught a piece of choreography to “It’s Time to Dance” from Broadway musical The Prom. We focused on moving through each step fully and creating sharp movements. After learning each section the class split into two groups to perform the choreography. Here Cris encouraged us to focus on facial expressions and having fun with the choreography. Splitting into groups allowed us to learn from the others in the class and helped create a feeling of an audience, despite us all being in our respective homes. We ended the class with a Q&A session where Cris talked how he became a professional dancer, his experiences performing in shows like West Side Story and The Wind in the Willows, and his thoughts on how the industry will react and adapt to the current circumstances. We had a great time taking class with Cris and are hoping to repeat the event in person in Cambridge soon!
On Sunday 28th June, members of the CUDS committee were joined by CUTAZZ, Pole Society, Strathspey and Reel club (Scottish country dancing), and Irish dance in a quiz featuring dance-themed rounds submitted by each society. One of the loveliest things about the dance community is how friendly and accepting everyone is and conversation immediately began as we learnt about each other’s societies and dance styles. Once the quiz began, it became clear that we a lot of us had very little dance knowledge beyond our own styles, there was definitely a lot of guesswork involved, but this led to plenty of discussion and learning! The rounds were creatively put together by each society, with rounds involving naming pole dancing moves and selecting which of a list of phrases were actually names of Scottish country dance patterns – twenty-first of September, anyone? The event was a brilliant way to meet and get to know new people! In these challenging times, it is more important than ever to find ways to come together and CUDS hopes to continue forming these bonds either virtually or in person.