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.
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.
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.
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.
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.