Exploring Dance: Youth Arts Learning Journey

Emma Louise Barrass is delighted to be mentoring Kelly Whiteside for an exciting Youth Art Learning Journey through Fresh Start for the Arts and Dumfries & Galloway Arts Partnership. Over the next three months Kelly will be working on this inspirational project to develop her dance skills and experience the wider world of dance.

As part of the project Kelly will be recording her experiences in this blog. We hope you enjoy reading about Kelly's Learning Journey. 

North to South!

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Myself and Emma have been very busy this past week, we've been here, there and everywhere!

Last Wednesday, we went up to Glasgow to see YDance's Project Y performance. The performance was broken down into five sections and my favourite one was 'Inertia', choreographed by Anna Kenrick. It was a contemporary piece and I thought it was very well choreographed. I've never saw a contemporary performance before so I was really intrigued to see what it'd be like. It was great to get an idea of the movement and spacing used in contemporary so I will take inspiration from this performance. The setting of the stage was different from the other sections, there were lights which flashed in time with the music. Also, the costumes that the dancers wore were quite unusual but they worked with the vibe of the performance. Overall, it was a great performance and the dancers put in 110% effort!
Then on Friday, we were off to London. We went to see the 'Thriller! Live' performance and I was so excited because I'm a huge Michael Jackson fan and also because a section of my show will be dedicated to him. I really needed to see a live Michael Jackson performance to create an image in my head of what I want my performance to look like. It was probably the best show I have ever seen! The choreography was so energetic and on point - it really emulated MJ's iconic style. It was really inspiring to see the dancers' passion for dancing, you could see that they were enjoying every minute. They really got the crowd going as well. I left the show with a much better idea of how I'll deal with the MJ section of my show.
On Saturday, we went to the iconic Pineapple Dance studios! This was a dream come true for me - to have classes with very experienced teachers. Even just to dance in a proper studio with mirrors was a great thing for me, as there isn't a dance studio in Newton Stewart. My first class was Hip Hop with TKSPIN from Masters Of Movement. I loved the teacher of this class - he was funny and his advice was really helpful. I liked how he broke down the dance and he made sure everyone knew what they were doing. I really enjoyed the class - I will be taking from inspiration from this class for my show.
03. Karen Estabrook 
My next class was Commercial Jazz with Karen Estabrook. This class was more out of my comfort zone so it was a challenge for me. There was a lot of Ballet technique involved which I struggled with as I've not done a Ballet class before. I thought Karen was a really good teacher, she went round the class and helped everyone individually which I thought was great. Some of the moves in the routine we did were a little similar to my style of dance. At the end, I asked Karen for some advice. She told me that all professional dancers will need to be trained in several styles of dance to be successful - including Ballet. So I will take this advice and start Ballet lessons with Emma after the summer!
04. Anthony King 
The third class I did was Michael Jackson style with the very talented Anthony King. I thought this class was necessary as of course, I'll be paying tribute to him in my show. We learnt a routine to "They Don't Really Care About Us" - it was very military and therefore involved lots of marching! It was quite difficult but Anthony was a great teacher and simplified every move until everyone had the hang of it. He was a great inspiration, it was like having the real Michael Jackson in the room! Anthony also gave me great advice. He told me that Michael lived up to his "King of Pop" title - he danced like a King. For example, he always had great posture, his movements were very strong and powerful and he always danced with so much energy. Anthony also said that as long as I'm doing my show for the passion and nothing else, that's all that matters. I thought the advice he gave me was really helpful and I will sure keep it in mind.
5. Debbie Shine
My final class was Contemporary with Debbie Shine. Once again, I have never done a Contemporary class before so it was a new experience for me. I found it really relaxing and I learnt a lot more about my body and how to control it. Like before in the Commercial Jazz class, I struggled in some parts because of my lack of Ballet knowledge but I did the best I could and really enjoyed it. I'm going to be doing a couple of Contemporary routines in my show so I really needed that class. It was extremely helpful as I don't really have a clue on where to start with a Contemporary dance. Debbie also gave similar advice to what Karen said - I need to be trained in Ballet as it's helpful in almost every style of dance.
After we finished our classes at Pineapple, myself and Emma went a walk down the embankment. We came across some guys who were doing some balancing and contortionist acts - it really was shocking what they could do with their bodies! We then watched a group of people perform Capoeira and we then got roped into doing it. It was really interesting as it's a way of defence too - I was cartwheeling on the streets of London!
Finally, on Sunday, we went to the Victoria and Albert Museum. We went to the Theatre and Performance section. This was really inspiring as it had so much information on famous performances and costumes. There was a replica of Kylie Minogue's dressing room from her Showgirl tour in 2007 which was really pretty and also costumes that Mick Jagger and Chris Martin wore. It was also really interesting to learn that things such as setting and lighting are important in making a performance. It really opened my eyes to things that I hadn't really given much consideration before.
Overall, going to London was extremely helpful. I am feeling really inspired and have a greater knowledge and ideas of what I want my performance to be. I can't wait now to get started and get into the hard planning and choreographing for my show!

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