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. I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity, and cannot wait for the next residency.