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Working with Freelance Artists: Meet Jemma Mae Broomfield

23rd November 2020

RJC Dance is proud to support the arts community here in Leeds, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve continued to invite local choreographers and dance teachers to work with us as we took our classes online. To learn more about what our partnership involves and why it matters, we spoke to Jemma Mae, who recently co-hosted our virtual Inner North East Community Committee RJC Dance Camps. Jemma specialises in Afro-fusion, Street dance and Contemporary dance, and takes part in Leeds West Indian Carnival each year. She has had a special interest in African art and sculpture from a young age, and is big on her music, especially Afrobeats, Dancehall, Hip Hop and R&B.

Hi Jemma, what kind of work are you involved in?

I work freelance as a dance artist. Some of my work is in teaching – I lead classes at RJC Dance, Yorkshire Dance, Leeds City College and some of the local schools. I also guest tutor at other universities such as Leeds Beckett. Separately I also perform and I’m a choreographer. For example, I work on music videos for a number of Northern based artists, such as J. Kas, Onipa, and Diamant B, plus a Ghanaian artist called Wiyaala. I absolutely love choreographing for video.

How has Covid-19 affected your work?

I always think it could be worse. It has been tough, don’t get me wrong. Even before lockdown, clients were cancelling because they were closing or reducing the number of external people coming in, and a lot of projects have been put on hold. That being said, plenty of clients have continued in new ways. I’ve filmed tutorials for Yorkshire Dance and for my adult open classes. With Wiyaala, I was able to film myself and send it to her in Ghana to add to the rest of her video – it was quite cool. It’s been brilliant to see organisations like RJC Dance adapt and take their offer online.

How did you find out about RJC Dance?

I discovered RJC Dance almost as soon as I moved to Leeds. I did my dance training at Leeds Beckett University, where I had friends who were alumni of RJC Dance. I learned quite quickly that they are one of the founding dance organisations in Leeds. In my first year I came to the Xmas show and really enjoyed it. A few years after graduating, I joined the first round of their Still Blazin’ tour, which was a great experience. Since then, I’ve co-delivered run many of their dance camps, and have stood in for other classes whenever I’m needed.

How did you find the most recent dance camp, which was run online for the first time?

The experience was really different compared to doing the dance camp in the studio. Usually we’d have a very big group, and we’re much more ‘hands on’ in the space with them. I’d actually met some of the young people at past camps we’d done in person, which was nice because it helped us all get to know one another this time. Everything went a lot better than I thought it would online. I was worried about their engagement – I thought they might just sit on the sofa and eat a bag of crisps! However, they were all really engaged and worked so hard. They did really well.

Would you keep online sessions in the future?

Unfortunately I think we’ll have to for the time being. I think everyone would rather be in the studio. From a teaching point of view, you can be far more specific about technique and choreography in person. There’s always going to be a lag with the music online, and there are inevitably some technical issues. While this is what we need to do, it’s still a great initiative. We can keep it fun, keep people moving, help them learn and interact with others.

Learn more about our online Inner North East Community Committee dance camps in this article with fellow dance tutor, Nillanthie Morton. Alternatively, take a look at some of the other artists we partner with. To take part in one of our online classes, see our what’s on calendar for the latest programme.

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