We recently ran a competition to respond to the question, "What does Dance Days mean to you". Our competition winner, Eleanor from Kent, spoke to us about her experience at Dance Days and why she would recommend it to young dancers. Read on to find out more...
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement with dance?
I started dancing at the age of four, beginning with ballet. I progressed and joined Star Stage School which was a fun place to take part in shows; from this early experience I found performing to be something I wanted to start doing on a regular basis. When I was in Year Five at school I joined Thanet Stage School in St Nicholas in Wade, in Kent. Josephine Johnston is my teacher at this school and we are taught the BBO syllabus here. We do annual shows and progress through syllabus grades – I have just completed Grade Six Classical Ballet, Grade Five Tap and am studying Intermediate Foundation Jazz. We also do contemporary classes but not through a syllabus. Thanet Stage School also provides us with opportunities to perform as Show Girls, with the big headdresses and kick routines. Every year we go to Kensington to perform at cabaret events; this is one of my favourite styles as it helps us develop our performance skills and stage presence.
I am currently studying at college, taking BTEC Musical Theatre and BTEC Music, in my final year before heading to university or vocational training. I love music and anything surrounding the theatre world; I play the piano, ukelele and sing too – I love to sing and have had lessons from a very young age. I am always very busy and it is tiring but I know it is good preparation for what I want to do in the future.
This year I will be auditioning for drama schools to study Musical Theatre. The ultimate dream is to perform on a West End stage but I am keen to get involved with anything performance related. I enjoy teaching performing arts workshops to primary school students, so this is something I will carry on with too.
Whilst having lots of opportunities to perform on stage, I have experience with sound, lighting and stage management too. I think it is important to understand everything that goes on behind the scenes in a theatre and appreciate the importance of every role.
Why did you want to attend Dance Days?
Dance Days was a gift for my birthday, I had never been away from my parents before so it was my first experience being entirely independent. I was excited to spend all day dancing and try some new styles from industry professionals. We also did creative sessions which gave us a new perspective on how dance can be taught and learned. The structure of each class enabled us to go back to the foundations of technique and develop ourselves.
Dancing all day also gave us lots of life skills such as independence, teamwork and communicating with new people. I met so many young dancers and it was a great way to have fun and develop my networking skills with new people. The event also teaches you resilience, it can be hard work to dance all day but it was worth the work!
What were your favourite parts of the event?
I loved Elmhurst Ballet School as a building and place to learn. Looking round all the studios and seeing where dancers train full time was really exciting. My favourite class was tap – it is a genre that develops your rhythm and musicality and it was fun to learn some new steps. Musical Theatre was also great!
When we performed the show at the end of the week, Craig Revel Horwood was in the front row watching us! We were exposed to some amazing industry professionals.
Would you recommend Dance Days to other young dancers?
I would definitely recommend Dance Days. It had always been a fun hobby to sing and dance but I had not dedicated huge amounts of time to it, going to Dance Days was a unique experience and made me realise how much I love training and performing.