national youth dance company

“Sweat, hard work and heart-warming experiences”: NYDC members rehearse MADHEAD

National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) is preparing for the premiere of its new work MADHEAD, choreographed by Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva, in April. Here, two young dancers share their thoughts on the company’s recent intensive periods of rehearsals.

Dancer Ewelina Kosinska, from Surrey, is 18.

“Going into our second residency in December, I was curious and excited to finally start proper work on our piece. Knowing how hard the previous, three-day residency was, I knew seven days would be overwhelming. I can honestly say it was the most exhausting week of my life when I look back, but in the moment it didn’t feel like it. I was so thrilled and motivated the whole time.

I had to be very focused as we learned so much choreography in those days, but it didn’t seem so much because I was loving every minute of it. At the end of each day, it really helped to have Sheela, who led meditation and relaxation techniques sessions with us; it helped me absorb daily information and gave me time to focus on my internal wellbeing.

Ahead of our third residency of nine days I am now even more determined,  as I now know how much focus and effort I need to put in for the piece to look amazing. I already feel like the show will be incredible and it’s the most exciting project I have ever gotten to be a part of so far.”

NYDC with Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva (left) and his creative team in rehearsals.

Dancer Kendra Chiagoro-Noel is 19 and from London.

“Arriving in Hull for our third residency in February, I was greeted by smiling faces and an eagerness to jump right back into the studio together, to pick up where we’d left off. I was buzzing, slightly nervous and full of excitement.

Getting back into the material and remembering steps and qualities with the premiere looming was definitely a challenge. A lot of personal reassurance and collective motivation helped us all overcome frustrations and energy levels to push through. 

The perseverance definitely paid off and the choreography was really getting into our bodies and beginning to take shape. It was so reassuring to see us adjusting to the physical demands and fully enjoying and embracing the movement through our rising confidence in the material. 

With the premiere so close and the vision of the piece becoming clearer to us, having the opportunity to see the costumes, talk to Botis and his company Far From The Norm, the lighting designers and production team as part of a Q&A session made it even more exciting.

The days flew by! It was a blur of sweat, hard work and heart-warming experiences. Coming home, I felt stronger, energized and ready to keep going – I even went for a run! I can’t wait to be back in April!”

MADHEAD premieres at DanceEast in Ipswich on 20 April. It then tours to Plymouth, Newcastle, Essex, Brighton and Birmingham, closing at Sadler’s Wells on 19 July.

NYDC and Corali deliver inclusive workshops inspired by dance film

Last summer, National Youth Dance Company (NYDC) teamed with Corali Dance Company to create a short dance film. It was directed by Paul Davidson, a Corali dancer who has been with NYDC for two years.

Paul has autism and was interested in creating a piece of art with an inclusive cast of disabled and non-disabled dancers. The film and accompanying documentary were created over a three-day residency. The final result was Escape the Nowhere, a piece following a young man trapped in a maze that creatively explores the idea of parallel co-existing perspectives and realities.

With the finished product in hand, Sadler’s Wells have worked with Paul, NYDC alumni and Corali to develop a two-hour workshop that uses the film as a stimulus for the making and exploration of new movement. In tandem, the film was screened across the country enjoying success at venues and events from Croydon to Durham.

Zara Rush, Creative Producer at Corali Dance Company was optimistic the partnership: “Corali Dance Company were delighted to act as inclusive lead for this partnership with NYDC. The project grew from strength to strength and enabled young people to find their artistic voice, take the lead and share practice. It’s been great to see how young dancers across the country have gone on to explore the themes from Escape the Nowhere in the projects legacy workshops and how they’ve made new creative discoveries for themselves.”

You can see the video documenting the creation process here:

The workshop series was delivered in tandem with key regional partners. Magpie Dance were the first to experience the session and their co-Artistic Director Natasha Britton has spoken about the experience

“We were thrilled to welcome NYDC alumni Paul and Kennedy, who delivered two-hour workshops to both our junior and youth groups on day one of our Easter intensive.

The workshops were confidently delivered and rich with creative challenges, all pitched at an appropriate level for our dancers with learning disabilities. The creative tasks they chose all linked back to the dance film made by Paul, Escape the Nowhere. Having watched the film, this allowed our participants to really engage with the theme and the process.

After the workshops, the facilitators at Magpie Dance supported the Easter School participants to further develop the ideas they had explored, leading to the creation of their own piece. At the end of the third and final day, family and friends were invited to watch Escape the Nowhere and our piece inspired by it. The participants and their families were hugely grateful for the opportunity to use such a powerful dance film as a stimulus and work with such exciting visitors.”

Click through to learn more about Corali Dance Company and Magpie Dance

Photo credit: Natasha Mansfield-Osborne
Video credit: Tobi Meneses

Miriam Levy on life in National Youth Dance Company

Miriam Levy, a current dancer in National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), reflects on her first residency with the company, which took place in October at DanceEast, Ipswich. The cohort worked with NYDC Associate Artist Neil Fleming Brown to bond as a company and to learn the the unique movement style of the company’s latest Guest Artistic Director Sharon Eyal, who they will begin rehearsals with in December.

My first residency with NYDC was a truly amazing experience and one I think will stick with me for a very long time. Some of my friends from the CAT scheme (Centre for Advanced Training Programme) were joining NYDC with me and before the residency they asked me if I was nervous to which I surprised myself by realising that I wasn’t. Getting into NYDC had been a big goal of mine so once I achieved it I was really excited to start and ready to start a totally new creative process. Once I arrived, we were really well taken care of and our parents were introduced to NYDC by the staff and returning dancers, who gave us some last minute advice. After this we travelled to Dance East where we went straight from the coach to the studio. We then started by improvising as a whole group to warm up, which was one of the highlights of the residency for me.

We were encouraged to watch each other for inspiration as we were moving and I found the other 40 dancers completely inspiring. In that moment and over the course of the residency I would find myself wanting to watch the other dancers more and more as everyone was so talented in different ways. The individuality of the other company members shone through even as we were trying to master Sharon’s very specific style. Trying to understand how her choreographic style would feel on my body was one of the biggest challenges of the residency for me, as watching videos of her moving reminded me just how different her style is to what I usually encounter in my training. We used to these videos as the start of creative tasks as individuals and in pairs and you could definitely see the progression of the material we made over the three days.

Starting to feel like I’m getting to grips with her style made me even more excited for the December residency, where Sharon is coming to start the creation process officially. This residency felt like a taster of the creation process and definitely left me excited for more. Something that surprised me about NYDC was the intensity of the schedule, and the level of professionalism expected of you as an NYDC member was a new experience for me. NYDC is designed to give you a taste of life in a professional company and one of the key parts of the experience is being in the studio all day every day whilst on residency. This was only a short residency (meaning we only had one complete day in the studio), but the sessions were very physically demanding and it was sometimes hard to maintain your creativity at the end of the long days. Despite this, the atmosphere in the studio was amazingly positive, everyone was completely committed to the tasks we were given and to dancing as best as we could.

One of the amazing things about NYDC is that it brings together people who are just as passionate about dance as each other from all around the country. I feel really grateful to have met people from the other side of the country, who I would never have had the opportunity to dance with otherwise. By the second day, my roommate and I were having a slightly surreal conversation where we couldn’t believe that we’d only met the day before because we already felt like we knew each other so well! The 40 dancers on the coach journey back had a very different dynamic to the 40 dancers who met each other at Sadler’s Wells. Everyone’s nerves had completely evaporated and we were chatting and literally singing together the entire journey home. I think we all felt the same sense of satisfaction of the connection we had made over the three days, as well as the dancing we achieved together.