Reclaiming Our Space

After a year of dancing in our bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, when we safely returned to our purpose-built studios, we had to re-learn how to be in the space together again.

A dark haired woman with down syndrome wearing a floaty blue top looks towards the ground with her arms in the air against a pink background

Those first tentative steps of small groups into the dance studio saw students rigidly stuck to the dot placed on the floor to aid social distancing. Easing tensions was our main priority. We had thought talking and explaining the new procedures would work, we swiftly learnt that being creative and getting back to what we usually do was exactly what everyone needed. Improvising and developing sequences together created a sense of unity that we couldn’t match whilst working online. Even as some students were still joining the sessions online, they realised the shift in how our homes have become both a place of work and a sanctuary.

During online working, films were the only way to share the students’ continued achievements whilst working from home. Naturally, on our return, it felt right to continue our success with this way of working. The familiarity of creating work for the camera made for a smooth transition. By coincidence, both Performance Academy and One Day Dance Courses had made the decision to make site-specific dance films, made in and around the Mind the Gap Building, for the end of year Showcases.

Despite having to work as two separate groups throughout the summer term, the pieces reflect how we still found a way to gather digitally as one, unite and find power within the isolation. Those working from home were encouraged to explore the space around them. Aptly the titles of these films (The Gathering, The Opening, Origin and Shelter) were all chosen to encompass the transition and sense of relief to be back creating together and being able to reclaim our space.

By Melissa Jackson, Academy Learner Support Worker

Watch ‘The Gathering’ – a contemporary dance piece created in collaboration with Joss Arnott Dance explores Joss’ style whilst exploring the strength and unity we have as one.

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