Our Learning & Engagement team and our Resident Company New Adventures worked with 18 students from our Associate Schools programme over two weeks this month to create a short piece inspired by Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Following intense rehearsals in our Studio A, the project culminated with the students premiering their new piece on our main stage before the company’s Swan Lake performance on 11 January.
Emily Massey, a student at City and Islington College, wrote about her experience taking part in the curtain raiser:
“When I first heard about the opportunity to audition for Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, I couldn’t contain my excitement. The thought of getting the chance to perform on a stage that thousands of amazing dancers have danced on was simply unbelievable. Come audition day, I was a bundle of nerves, yet once the audition started they all seemed to fade away. I was made to feel so comfortable and supported by the instructors and my fellow peers that the dreaded word, audition, no longer seemed so scary.
After rehearsals had started, that’s when the real fun began! I have personally always been taught that dance is about technique, but this experience has taught me that it is so much more than that. Dance is a combination of movement and storytelling, and throughout this adventure we were pushed to the limits not only to improve technically as dancers but to develop our characterisation. Trying to embody a swan is a lot harder than you would think, but we were given suggestions on several strategies to employ in order to be able to do that along the way, and lots of support. By far the most challenging, yet rewarding part of the curtain raiser was getting the chance to create our own swan motifs. We were pushed to think like swans, which is hard given we’re human, but with extra guidance, we all created swan-like movements that were incorporated in the dance
“The lessons I’ve learnt along the way from both dancers and choreographers will stay with me.” Hannah Rose
I also met some of the best people I will ever meet in my life and that’s thanks to this whole experience. Having come from four different schools, we originally started off quite separated, but within a day or so we all quickly became very close and supportive of each other; it was an amazing environment to be in.
“Having the chance to be part of such an amazing experience reminds me of why I love to dance and what I would like to achieve in the future.” Isis
Getting to dance on the Sadler’s Wells stage was incredible! I have never done anything like it in my life and will never forget it. It was like I was dreaming the whole thing because it was so great. The most amazing part was meeting the man behind it all, Matthew Bourne, who choreographed Swan Lake for his company New Adventures. I was in absolute awe, it was a totally surreal moment.
“We gained insight into how a professional company works.” Mia
Getting to meet the professional company before dancing was unreal. They are our idols, the people we are striving to be, and meeting them as well as dancing on the same stage as them was too good to be true. It was truly an unforgettable experience and I will cherish the memories of it forever, as well as hope that I get to do it again next year!”
“The curtain raiser was fantastic! I saw most of my students afterwards and they were really buzzing and so excited about the whole experience. Thank you for facilitating this project, it makes such a difference to the students’ whole approach to dance and its possibilities.” Siobhan White, dance teacher at City and Islington College
“Wow – what an evening! Our students are so inspirational and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying their performance was incredible. Blown away by their talent and performance abilities! Thank you so much – opportunities like these are second to none and your support has played a great part in helping our young dancers to find and enjoy their passion.” Gemma Anderson, dance teacher at Bow School