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. 

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  1. 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!
     
    01.Thriller 
    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.
     
    02.Pineapple
    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!
  2. This week, I started work on my warm up for the taster session! I have the chorus done - I adapted some moves from the music video, I really love the whole style and the vibes in that video. I will hopefully have the full routine finished at the beginning of next week.
     
    I have also started planning for the Michael Jackson section in my performance. Emma gave me a programme to use to edit and remix songs so I have been playing around with that. Once I have a megamix of Michael Jackson songs made, I will then start choreographing for it.
     
    I want to have an 80's section in my performance too which I've had a lot of ideas for - expect Flashdance, Footloose and Fame!
     
    Myself and Emma are going to YDance's Project Y performance in Glasgow next Wednesday. I hope to get some ideas for my own show from this and it will be good to see lots of young people dancing on such a big stage!
     
    We then go to London next Friday to see Thriller Live which is really going to be good as I have the MJ section in my show. On Saturday we are going to Pineapple Dance Studios where I'll take lots of classes - including one with the choreographer of the Thriller musical!
     
    Exciting times ahead! :)
     
    compass
  3. This week, I helped Emma with Popdance Summer camp in Newton Stewart. It was quite difficult in this heat but we kept dancing away. It was a great class!
     
    We then went for a nice cold drink and talked about the project. Emma informed me that everything for our trip to London is booked which is very exciting! In two weeks time we'll be going to see the musical - "Thriller" - then we will spend a day at Pineapple Dance studios which I really can't wait for!
     
    Myself and Emma also discussed the taster session I'll be doing at Douglas Ewart High School. I need to choreograph a warm up which will be to Bruno Mars' "Treasure"! I have also decided to have a section of my show dedicated to Michael Jackson and I need to start planning for that. Emma also suggested a song for a contemporary routine - White Stripes, "We're Going To Be Friends". It's not really what I listen to but it will be interesting to see what I come up with for that routine.
     
    I will be busy choreographing this week, will be working up a sweat with this heatwave!
     
     
    Thriller Live is choreographed by Anthony King & I hope to be taking his dance class at Pineapple Dance Studios. This video was filmed in 2008 by BBC Breakfast News.