At the end of last month (21st & 22nd March) The Lowry welcomed 300 young dancers to it’s building for the annual U.Dance NorthWest festival. It was a jam-packed weekend filled with workshops, icebreakers, challenges and of course the final performances where all 22 youth dance companies presented the choreographies they had been working on for over 3 months to friends, families, schools, dance professionals and the National selection panel.
For the Youth Dance Ambassadors it was a 9am Saturday morning start to set up for the long and exciting weekend ahead! There was already a buzz of anticipation for the young dancers to arrive as the #udanceanywhere challenges were placed around The Lowry, the schedules distributed between the volunteers and the badges/ leaflets laid out for the participants.
Each day kicked off with the U.Dance Festival Opening and Welcome talk in the auditorium hosted by YDA’s Emma Liu and Jade Aitchison. After a round of rubber chicken to wake everyone up and a quick talk through all the housekeeping, three students from The Lowry CAT (Centre For Advanced Training in Dance) gave a personal insight in to their prevocational dance training and gave a small performance for the U.Dance particpants. A moment that stood out was when CAT student Olivia spoke about her first knowledge of The Lowry CAT being when she came as a participant to U.Dance NW festival and sat right where all the young dancers were sat in the auditorium. She had been amazed by the CAT students in her opening talk, which then encouraged her to go to an Open Day and she then continued to audition and gain a place on the CAT scheme. A big Thank you! to Olivia, Alegra and Jake for coming to the festival.
After a slightly hectic filming of the curtain call which looked amazing on film at the end of the show, the entire auditorium took part in a ‘Getting to Know You Session’. The auditorium erupted in to a roar of creative chant choreography and it resulted in some incredible chants which included split jumps, sassy arm movements and company lettering.
A quick lunch break and then on to the workshops/ teching. There was a range of workshop styles to take part in from Bollywood to Mind & Movement, Capoeira/ Breaking to Pilates. In every studio there was an environment of enjoyment and motivation to learn new ways of moving.
On Saturday Sheetal Maru and Dr Swati Raut taught a Bharatanatyam workshop introducing the dancers to the grounded movement and classical Bharatanatyam rhythms implemented by Swati Dance Company. It was beautiful to see the young dancers travel across the space as a collective with a newly found stylistic quality. In another studio Bridget Fiske gave the students an insight in to The Lowry CATs recent project led by Random Dance using the ‘Mind and Movement’ resource by Wayne McGregor to teach the participants new creative tools and new ways of finding movement vocabulary through exploring your own body. The dancers were engaged in searching out the places to take the body in order to create unique and
Over both days the young dancers had the opportunity to learn Capoeira/ Breaking, on Saturday with Malachi Simmons, on Sunday with Theo Fapohunda. These workshops introduced the dancers to the idea of fusing styles together to find universal connections in movement and explore new physical possibilities within themselves as individuals. They learnt how to face the fear of tipping upside down, how to easily incorporate capoeira styles fuidly in to their movement and how to have fun moving whilst exploring new styles.
In studio 2 on Sunday the energy was brought back down with a health enriching Pilates class taught by Alexandra Lamb a teacher at The Lowry CAT. The students were encourage to engage with their mind-body connection and Alex reminded them that looking after their health as a dancer was vital to their performance. This workshop may not have been as energetic as the others but it was definitely engaging!
Lastly but by far not the least was Rohan Shah & Anupam Hinge with the Bollywood workshop from Shiamak Dance Education. The sound of pumping music could be heard eachoing down the corridors, the heat of dancers being worked hard radiating out of the walls and the most impressive grins on every single students face shined through the room. Rohan and Anupam made learning this new and energetic style a fun and exhilirating experience for all of the dancers.
This year the festival saw the return of YDA’s #udanceanywhere. Throughout the weekend the youth dance companies were challenged to find the U.Dance 2015 logo hidden around The Lowry and complete the photo challenges that were hidden with each logo with a chance to win tickets to see ‘Opus’ at The Lowry in May. Every company threw themselves in to the challenges and got creative with their photos for each challenge. Below are just a few of the NorthWest Dance and Youth Dance Ambassador Team photos for #udanceanywhere. To check out all the photos from over the weekend follow us on Twitter @lowryyouthdance or visit our UDanceAnywhere Storify>>>
Alongside the workshops the groups continuously tech’d their pieces and then all of a sudden it was 7:45pm SHOWTIME!
The excitement backstage combined with the anticipation in the auditorium created a buzz through The Lowry from the Quays Theatre. The lights went down and the auditorium fell silent and U.Dance NW 2015 presented two nights of innovative, diverse and talented performances by youth dance groups from the North West of England.
Well done to everyone who performed and took part in the weekend and a massive thank you to all the Youth Dance Ambassadors who volunteered at the event.
For information about the National U.Dance 2015 Plymouth Festival visit the Youth Dance England website >>> www.yde.org.uk/
You can also check out our U.Dance NW 2015 Promo Video below: