National Youth Dance Company Goes Digital With New Cohort

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) has completed its second digital residency for the 2020-2021 cohort, led by Guest Artistic Director Alesandra Seutin.

The country’s flagship company for young dancers continues to work in innovative ways in response to the challenges posed by COVID-19. Virtual taster workshops, Q&As, live online workshops and digital sessions have all been developed to help further the company’s learning and training during the pandemic.

Meet National Youth Dance Company 2020-21 film.

Together with Alesandra Seutin and her team of artists from Vocab Dance, NYDC will work on two further residencies before embarking on a short UK tour this summer, including a performance at Sadler’s Wells on Saturday 24 July 2021. Work will continue digitally until government laws allow for the company to meet in person in the studio. Further details about the production and tour are to be announced.  

Introducing the new generation of dance

NYDC’s 2020-2021 cohort is made up of 29 dancers – of which 21 are new company members and eight are returning. New company dancers were recruited virtually in November 2020.

NYDC 2020-21 virtual auditions, captured at Sadler’s Wells.

NYDC’s current cohort includes dancers from over 20 different towns and cities from across the UK. This year, company members range from ages 16 to 18, which goes up to 24 for deaf or disabled dancers.

The company includes: Deborah Asidi from Nottingham, Charlotte Aspin from Bristol, Ella Atkinson from Stalybridge, Jesse Baggett-Lahav from Ipswich, Ashur Cali from Leeds, Keziah Campbell-Golding from London, Elvi Rose Christiansen Head from London, Rory Clarke from Winchester,  Kian Crowley from London, Maya Donne from Lewes, Phoebe Dowglass from Goring-by-sea, Skiye Edmond from London, Harry Fayers from Marlow, Maiya Leeke from Preston, Jasmine Massey from Stourbridge, Max Mulrenan from York, Jamaica Payne from Nottingham, Katie Smith from Wakefield, Amari Webb-Martin from London, Ciaran Wood from Frome and Genevieve Wright from Downham Market. They join the following dancers from the previous cohort: Sonny Connor-Bell from Birmingham, Karim Dime from London, Maia Faulkner from Brighton, Willow Fenner from London, Mia Grote from Totnes, Mirabelle Haddon from London, Chiara Moore from Warrington, and Eve Shorten from Oxford.  

A year like no other

Alesandra Seutin takes over from Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Russell Maliphant, who was the Guest Artistic Director for NYDC in 2019-20. As the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, Russell and the company discovered news ways of working together both online and socially distanced. In the summer 2020, NYDC became the first dancers to return to Sadler’s Wells since lockdown – performing a new dance work to an intimate audience of friends and family, to complete their year.

National Youth Dance Company ‘A year like no other’ 2020 film.

The current cohort of dancers were encouraged to journal about their experiences during their residencies.

NYDC dancer Skiye Edmond, said: “Before the December residency, I was so nervous because I knew that I was going to be working with a group of incredibly talented dancers so naturally, this overwhelmed me. However, as it went on, I was surprised at how connected we had all become despite being online, and how much we were able to learn from each other. I set a goal […] to allow myself to be inspired by others as oppose to developing imposters syndrome and this was definitely achieved.”

Alesandra Seutin, NYDC Guest Artistic Director 2020-21, said: “Regardless of the digital residencies with NYDC, I really feel that we have created a strong connection and been able to transcend the realm of our rectangle spaces. I cannot wait to meet my Company in the flesh!”

Hannah Kirkpatrick, NYDC General Manager, said: “This year is certainly bringing its challenges, but we made a decision early on that it would not stop us creating new work, we just have to adapt how this work can be created. I feel so proud of how the company have responded, how dedicated and motivated they are to working together and making this a success. It is a huge amount of work for Alesandra and her artistic team, planning and utilising the time on Zoom to make sure that when we can be in person we can hit the ground running. This past year has hit us all, but I think it has been particularly difficult for young people, creating a new work over lockdown is keeping us motivated and focused in a time when so much is out of our control.”

Find out more about NYDC here.

National Youth Dance Company is supported using public funding by Department for Education and Arts Council England.

Barclays is the Associate Partner of the National Youth Dance Company.