NDTA Coference, Royal Opera House Saturday 1st December

On the 1st December I attended the National Dance Teachers Association 7th Annual General meeting at the Royal Opera House, Convent Garden, London. This was part of Making It Happen, the future of dance for children and young people. This was a national conference organised by the NDTA in partnership with Youth Dance England, the Royal Opera House and the Dance Educators Group.I started of the day with a not so gentle contemporary class with Amanda Lewis who trained at NSCD 2 years below me, it was a great class and at a good pace, my only issue was that I was the only male taking part and this carried on for the rest of the day. I felt I was back in Gibraltar age 5 years old taking a Modern Dance session and being the only boy doing this sort of dance in Gibraltar. Session 1 of the day was a welcome meeting led by Judy Evans the NDTA chair, Clare Thurman & Jasmine Wilson Co Chairs Dance Educators Group. There were three keynote speakers, Linda Jasper Director Youth Dance England, Prof. Mick Waters Professor of Education Wolverhampton University and President of the Curriculum Foundation and Sally Manser Head of Royal Opera House Bridge. Session 2 was a performance; this was an opportunity to celebrate young talent in a showcase of primary, secondary and Youth Dance. Session 3 was the 1st of 2 workshops I took in the afternoon. This was a workshop on professional links and inspiration for creation with Hofesh Shechter Company; this was led by Hofesch himself and accompanied by 2 of his dancers Hannah Shepherd and Phillip Hulford. We did a lot of improvisation and looked at the basic rules he used to create Uprising: there is an outer space, and an inner space on stage, and there is a general feeling of trying to penetrate that space; dancers can come in and out to the inner space from any side of the stage including the back; there is a tension between ordered structure and a chaotic situation. In this we worked on decision making, editing refining and spacing. We finished off by learning a small section from Uprising which was great fun to do. I finally got to learn a way of moving from a choreographer I admire his choreography and movement. Session 4 the last session of the day was also Youth Dance practice, Storytelling narrative through dance. This was led by Bettina Strickler; the session was fun and very useful. I tried this format with one of my sessions and the results and response of my class was great. I think they were really surprised how much they achieved from one small idea. It was a good day one that I came back with loads of ideas for my own classes. Some ideas were new and some just refreshed my memory.

Iain