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Northern School of Contemporary Dance Student Placements With RJC Dance

3rd March 2021

RJC Dance is always glad to support the next generation of dance talent. So we're thrilled to welcome Jorden Brooks and Jacob Edwards from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance BA2 course as they join RJC Dance Youth Provision for their placement. Jorden and Jacob will be working with our Shahck Out Youth Dance group this Spring, and have already got off to a good start, connecting with our young people online in their first session. In this interview, RJC Dance Director Kathy Williams OLY spoke to Jorden and Jacob to learn more about their journey into dance and their advice for our young dancers here at RJC Dance.

How did you get into dance?

Jorden: I first started getting into dance around the age of 10. Just like the young people in RJC Dance Youth Provision, I did it through Youth Dance. It was a really nice way of building my creativity and confidence. There was no pressure whatsoever - we danced to different themes and different ideas, it wasn't about how high you could kick your leg or whether you could do the splits. You were totally free to dance how you wanted to dance. That is what Youth Dance is all about, and what is so special about this community.

Jacob: I always liked dancing when I was younger, but I was never in a Youth Dance club. When I was in year 7 I did dance after school and really enjoyed it. I ended up doing it at GCSE, and while I was at 6th form I decided I wanted to dance for a living. I left to go to go to the Manchester college for two years and do a dance course there.

How did your dance journey take you to the Northern School of Contemporary Dance?

Jacob: My teacher at the Manchester College was actually a graduate of The Northern School of Contemporary Dance, and a graduate of The World People Genetic Dance. They pointed me in this direction and got me to audition for conservatoires. I auditioned for The Place at the London School of Contemporary Dance and Nothern School. I really liked the one year course, and it gave me a bit more time to prepare and understand what I was getting myself into. If you want to know whether a dance course is for you, then a foundation course is a bit less of a commitment, which is useful.

Jorden: I stayed with the Youth Dance until I was about 17. I joined the CAT scheme, just like some of your young people. Then I was scouted for the National Youth Dance Company 2017/18 so I was able to tour around the UK. That was an amazing opportunity - just incredible. From there I auditioned for the NSCD and here I am today. It was really about building a foundation to get all the technical ballet and contemporary skills that I needed.

What does your course at the NSCD involve?

Jorden: This year they are starting an Urban course which is one year long and results in a Certificate in Higher Education. It covers a mix of Urban styles, so there's real variety in what you can learn. If you think you don’t really just want to do Contemporary, there are other courses where you can experiment with different styles as well.

Is there anything you've found challenging on your course?

Jorden: Before going to NSCD, I'd never trained in ballet at all. Coming to NSCD was my first ever real ballet training, and it was a real challenge at the start. But the teachers are really supportive, and they help drive you to the same level as everyone else. It was really incredible to get that training and now I’m nearly at the same level as everyone else.

Jacob: Money was a little bit of an issue for me. I was always concerned about whether this was something that could be an actual career for me. I wondered 'will I be able to put a roof over my head following something like this?'. When I did the Access course, I didn’t get a student loan; our accommodation was covered but that was it, so for me, I had to work at the same time and that was a bit of a challenge. But I think they’ve changed it now so you can get a full student loan for doing your one year course, which is great. Also, where I grew up, a small town called Buxton, (where Buxton Water comes from if anyone’s ever heard of it) that was a challenge. I had to go to Manchester to go to college to do a dance course, which opened my eyes a bit. You guys are lucky that you are in Leeds, with such a hub of culture and a long history of dance.

What are your hopes for the future?

Jacob: One of the reasons I wanted to come here to Leeds and train was to get a better idea of what dance could be, and what my career prospects could look like. When I graduate, I want to create and make. I’m interested in video production, which we also get to do at NSCD. Last year we had a film module and had the opportunity to make our own film. It interests me, so I think that’s the kind of stuff that I want to get into.

Jorden: My aspiration when I graduate is to be in the choreographic creative side of the Contemporary industry. I don't know what it is, but it sparks something in me. I just want to create and be out there, producing work for other dancers and anyone in the community who wants to experience what I’m experiencing.

What advice do you have for any young people hoping to follow in your footsteps?

Jorden: Be yourself. Don’t try and be the dancer you think NSCD wants. Just be who you are, look into what styles you’re interested in, and don’t try and be the person next to you, because they don’t want to see that. Also, however scary it may seem, work hard, put the effort in and you will get the results back that you deserve.

Jacob: I totally agree - they really don't want 60 people who are all the same. Be honest with yourself, think about what you can bring to the table that maybe someone else doesn’t have. Tell them what your other interests are - I said I was interested in film and that I would love to use their facilities, which is a pretty honest answer! Tell them about what you want to develop and learn. In general, just be friendly and show you can and want to work with other people. A lot of work we do is in groups, so if you can show you can build relationships, communicate and work as a team, that will serve you well.

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