We started The Curious Dance Company two years ago with the specific aim of building a strong youth dance company that would create original dance works to perform in both competitive stage dance festivals and non-competitive youth dance showcases around the North West.
There are not many youth dance companies that aim to work in both types of dance performance settings and we have worked hard to develop pieces that bridge both worlds whilst also being, what we feel to be, interesting and innovative youth dance pieces that challenge and celebrate our young dancers.
We hit a very steep learning curve in our first year of festivals. There are different etiquette and conventions that need to be observed and in initial competitive festivals we were picked up on areas like how we bowed and exited stage and we outshone by companies with years of competitive experience. We have learned our lessons fast. One area we have really focused on developing is our dancer’s stage presence and versatile performance abilities.
We are now on our second year of festivals and have developed so much as a company. We recently performed at the Lancaster Stage Dance Festival and looked like a strong more experienced dance company and had success with Charlie Nayler winning his contemporary solo section.
A week later we travelled to Nelson to perform in their stage dance festival. last year we placed third with a contemporary piece, our first placing. This year we came first in the contemporary group section with ‘Creep’ and placed second in the cabaret group section with ‘Kaleidoscope’. ‘Creep’ also won the trophy for the highest marking piece across the entire festival with a massive 89 marks. To top it all off Scot Chaplow was awarded the Boys Dance trophy and Charlie Nayler received the adjudicators Scholarship Award. A very successful day and a huge confidence builder for us as a company.
Next Weekend we perform ‘Creep’ at a non-competitive dance festival ‘BIGUPNorth’ at the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster and it will be very interesting to see the work along side other youth dance companies from around the North West.
We are only still just beginning our Curious dance journey, loving every moment and growing with every step.
It has been a while since we have written a post here and a new year resolution is to create more regular updates of the companies progress; both here and on YouTube. We would like to open the doors to our choreographic and rehearsal process and invite you to see our journey as it happens (or shortly after I’ve edited video and written a new post).
The Curious Dance Company is evolving fast; it’s been a very exciting time for dance at QES (the school where we are based). The performance company has grown to 22 young dancers (2 boys, 20 girls) each bringing a talent, personality and creativity to the process of developing new pieces for festivals.
We offer a range of classes: Acro for boys; Dance for performance; Acro Dance and Advanced Acro. New classes are in the pipe line: Ballet for beginners and advanced and a commercial dance class (watch this space for more announcements).
We will update our YouTube channel weekly with footage from rehearsal and other bits and pieces we get up to in the studio as well our adventures in competitive and non-competitive festivals. Please support us by liking the videos, subscribing to keep updated and let others know what we’re up to. Here’s our video of our first week back after the Christmas break. Hope you enjoy…
This is the start of brand new phase for The Curious Dance Company. Our very first Curious Dance classes started today.
We now have two Acro Dance classes and a Dance for Performance class to complement our performance company. This is such an exciting development for us as we now offer a broad dance experience all under our Curious umbrella.
The Dance for Performance class is a curious mix of styles, from contemporary to musical theatre, designed to bring the very best out of each student whilst challenging them to develop a strong technical foundation. All delivered with an energetic and driven style that is the hallmark of Megan Alder-Cox’s teaching. Megan has an impressive talent for developing dancers’ technical and performance abilities in a short amount of time – she really knows how to get results.
The Acro class was all about core fitness and the initial assessment of the pupils’ abilities. Acro puts a demand on the body beyond most dance styles and requires the development of strength, flexibility and coordination (especially whilst upside down in the air) to a high degree. This requires a precision in the delivery to ensure clear understanding and safely at all times. Megan is an excellent Acro teacher with full qualifications and an ability to make the tough feel fun.
Our first Curious outing was a fantastic experience. This was an opportunity to test the water and find out what competitive festivals are about and learn what we need to do as a company to grow and develop.
I am hugely proud of all our dancers; they worked so hard and made a real impression on the festival organisers. I received a message last night from the one organiser – ‘I just wanted to say what a pleasure your groups were. Always very polite…their behaviour was commendable’. Can’t ask for more than that!
The standard of the groups in the festival were incredibly high, many of the dancers had a very strong technical ability and a real commitment in performance. The choreographies varied but many were cleverly inventive and performed with a precision that comes from many hours of rehearsal. Most of the pieces had been performed at festivals over a few year and so were refined and polished. It was great to watch pieces of this calibre and there were many inspiring moments to take away.
The judge of the festival was Geoff Lucas and he was very impressive. He gave considered comments that were always constructive and accurate. In his introduction speech for our group section he talked about looking for work that was original in ideas, dared to take risks, used the music to inform the choreography and utilised a range of levels and dynamics. These are all elements that we have discussed in the creating of our first pieces so it was very reassuring to know we are thinking along the right lines. What our pieces lacked were the hours of rehearsal and the experience of many performances – all that will come with time and continued hard work. We also know we need to extend our pieces as they were clearly shorter than any other piece (although short pieces can be the preference at some festivals).
This festival was a hugely valuable learning experience and we are excited and inspired to return to the studio to strengthen our first two pieces and create new work. We are going to work on a piece with the whole company that will be shown a our Christmas sharing and entered for both Cumbria and Lancashire festivals and we have ideas bubbling away for further smaller group pieces.
We now have the festival bug and will continue to seek out other festivals that we can enter. A big thank you to Huddersfield Stage Dance Festival – we were made to feel very welcome and supported and we will definitely be back next year as a much more experienced company.
As this blog is posted we will be preparing to travel down to Huddersfield for our first performances. The whole company have worked incredibly hard to get our two pieces performance ready.
In the previous rehearsal Megan Alder-Cox took on the role of rehearsal director with Curiosus’ Alice Through the Looking-glass themed piece (choreographed by J Winstanley) and this week it was the turn of Curiosum’s Battle Cry piece to receive the Megan treatment. With forensic like detail the pieces were dissected and reconstructed with each movement being clarified, every formation aligned and a ruthless rehearsal of the unison sections that had begun to drift into a form of cannon.
This performance experience is a real unknown for all of us. Over the years The Curious Dance Company have built a solid reputation for creating ambitious works of innovative choreography for theatre audiences. But competitions are different, there is a specific criteria that the dance work is judged against. We set out to make two pieces that were choreographically impressive, showcased our fantastic performers and were rehearsed to performance standard. This is what we have achieved and we are very proud of our two pieces – every single dancer has given their all and we have we are all excited to be a part of the Huddersfield Stage Dance Festival.
There is always a curiosity about how well we may do in the competition but ultimately this experience is about sharing what Curious means to us with a new audience. Whatever happens we will have a great time and continue to grow as a company.
A dictionary definition of curious is:
1: having a desire to learn or know more
2: strange, unusual or unexpected
This is a good starting point to understanding what The Curious Dance Company is about.
Our mission statement reads:
The Curious Dance Company strive to inspire, challenge and develop all
our dancers to be the best performers they can be. We do this through
being the dance company that; works the hardest; enjoys the most;
innovates with creativity; applauds the loudest, loves to dance and is
curious in all we do.
It has been a long and complex journey over many years to take an after
school dance club through to being a company that creates full length
contemporary ballets and runs two performance groups; creating work
specifically for festivals.
The Curious Dance Company is now quite complex in structure and works
The Curious Dance company is a broad title for all we do; The Curious Dance Studios is what we call our festival focused groups and each group also has a name – Curiosus and Curiosum (both Latin for curious). Confusing? Yes it is but that’s ok. What is clear is the quality of work we create is outstanding and the quality of dancers that are choosing to be Curious is humbling. I am very excited about this next phase of our Curious journey.
Seeing our Curious dancers being challenged in a contemporary class,
exploring new ideas in an improvisation session and beginning learning the
choreography for their first pieces was truly amazing. We have plenty of
hard work ahead of us but the journey promises to be a curious one.
The Curious Dance Company has had many young performers go on to train and work professionally in dance. Some of our previous company members have agreed to write about their time with Curious and what they are up to now.
I performed with Curious for four consecutive years taking part in performances pieces that were taken to The Lowry for U.dance 2011, and the Peter Scott Gallery at Lancaster University as well as a dance film and numerous showcases at QES. I was involved with Curious’ first ballet, The Nutcracker, where I played one of the children and a cupid duet.
I then went on to have the leading role in the following ballet ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’. This was something very new to me as I had never had such an important role in a production. The role of Alice meant I had to be confident on stage but also a confident story teller. I remember feeling very nervous and slightly embarrassed that I had to over act my movement but especially my face. There was one rehearsal where Mr Marriott and I were creating a scene which I was nervous about, the ‘Crying’ scene. This scene involved me having a tantrum and crying. I struggled massively with the facial expressions previously, but in this rehearsal I remember just going for it and it was sort of a break through moment and I finally found my Alice character. This was also a moment where I found my love for this kind of performance style.
Curious were incredibly grateful for the media coverage of ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’. We were lucky enough to feature twice of the ITV border news. I had a small interview about my experiences and feelings towards performing Alice. This gave me a professional experience of working as a company.
Alice was also taken to the Dukes Theatre in Lancaster where we performed three shows. Having the opportunity to perform in a professional theatre, this gave me an insight into working in a professional environment.
After leaving Curious I went on to study a BA Hons Dance Degree at Edge Hill University where I am now heading into my final year. Being involved with Curious it gave me experiences of working with a company and a professional studio environment, which lead me to want to pursue a performance career. Also with the experiences I gained from Curious I now work with Edge Hill’s Undergraduate Dance Theatre Company ‘3rd Edge’.
We have made our decisions and are now ready to reveal our brand new Curious Dance Company members. We are very excited to begin creating work with the new company. We will divided The Curious Dance Company into two smaller groups, dancers within the company will be moved between groups, as we create more work, depending on the requirements of the choreography. There will also be opportunities for the whole company to create and perform work altogether.
Flora Milliagan Ellie Williams Rosa Fox Kelsey Greenbank
Abigail Tracy Rebecca Mason Harriet Leaf Hannah Willison
Lauren Hayton Lucy Ormston Felicity Warman Emily Barrett
Bridgett Taylor Katie Cobley Shannon Hicks Sophie Howard
Fiona Woodburn Charlie Naylor Tilly Mackereth Darcy Willis Morgan Bower
Congratulations to you all and we will begin our Curious Dance next Thursday.
Firstly, a huge thank you to everyone who came to our Curious audition. The standard was very high with standout magic moments from everyone. This, of course, makes the already difficult process of selecting the Curious dancers extremely challenging. Every dancer taking part should feel very proud of their performance at the audition and we are very excited about having such strong dancers in our new company.
On our panel were Mrs Winstanley and Megan Alder-Cox who watched the dancers take part in a technique class, learn movement phrases, create their own group pieces and perform their own choreographies. They were tasked with looking for dancers with technical ability, a stage presence in their performance, a readiness to work alongside others and an ability to take comment and corrections on board.
We are not ready to reveal the list of names that make up the new Curious Dance Company just yet. We will post the list up over the weekend. But We would like to make it clear that any dancer that didn’t gain a place this time round will be automatically on the Curious waiting list and will be the first to be offered a place if one becomes available.
We will be sharing our Curious photos, videos and our thoughts as we progress through the year; from rehearsal through to performances.
Auditions are always scary – often because it is unknown what will be expected of you. Do you need to prepare anything? Is there anything you should be rehearsing or practicing?
If you are planning on auditioning for the brand new Curious performance groups then hopefully we can ease some nerves by explaining what you will be doing in the audition.
So what will we do?
There will be a warm up class. Nothing too difficult just some dance technique exercises you may already be familiar with. This will prepare you for the audition both physically and mentally. This is your time to ease into the audition process so try and relax and enjoy the class. Many of you will have done a lot of dance classes before so this will be familiar ground.
You will be taught a movement sequence to a piece of music. This will be to see how well you pick up and perform movement material. Don’t worry, this won’t be too difficult – we are not trying to catch you out – we just want to challenge you a little. You will not be performing these just yet.
In small groups you will add some more movement onto the sequence. You will use the same music and can put any move in you like. This is about your creativity and your ability to perform as a group.
And that’s it!
So nothing to prepare, you can stick with your friends and you get to throw your own moves! You will NOT be asked to perform on your own as this is an audition for a performance group. There will be a panel of Curious staff who may write some notes to help them make their choices but ultimately they will be there to enjoy the dancing… and so should you.
When will you find out?
We will aim to make the decision of who is in the company as soon as possible – maybe even for the next day. But just to be sure we will have the final list ready for Monday September 12th. We will put the list up at QES and on this website. If you are not successful this time around – there is always next year.
We hope to see you at the audition on the 8th September 2016 at 3.30pm in the Harlequin Theatre.