University: Term 1

Summary I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but I thought it’d be nice to summarise my first term at university, and may be useful for anyone who’s considering going to study dance. I’m going to write a little bit about each of my modules and then a summary at the end.

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Dance Technique

I have 1.5hr technique class four times a week, each with a different teacher who are all very different so we get a real variety of classes. In the second term, I’ve got two new teachers to mix it up even more, so I’ll try not to talk about those classes yet! It’s strange how I’m finding it difficult to distinguish between this term and last even though I had a whole month off in between them…

So last term, most teachers taught similar material for the first five weeks, then after enhancement week (essentially half term) they changed some exercises and some taught a whole new class up until Christmas. I really enjoyed all my classes last term, they all had such different focuses and styles. We were videoed regularly and were given individual feedback and had the chance to book tutorials with individual teachers for specific and in depth feedback which I wish I’d done more often to be honest!

We just had our first written assignment and it was for this module – to write a 750-1000-word reflective record. Thankfully I’d managed to keep a dance journal as recommended since the start of term – at the end of every class I’ll try and write down notes for five minutes even if it’s just a list of what we did. It was particularly useful when I wrote down feedback and then I could reflect on that for the following class and track what I’d been able to apply.

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Improving Performance

This module consists of a lecture and a workshop every week. We learnt the anatomy of the spinal cord, ribs, pelvis and shoulder girdle and will do the upper and lower limbs next year. Having learnt and understood the structure of the main areas of the body, we’re now learning how to use this in mechanically advantageous ways to improve our dance performance – this is following Alexander Technique which is really interesting. Some of it goes completely over my head though, I’m not gonna lie.

Contemporary Dance: Current Perspectives

I really enjoy this module, it’s exposed me to so many more varied performances and professional works that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. There was also the trip to see Plan B for Utopia (I posted a review). There was a lecture and a seminar every week with this as well, and we did our first presentation which was just ten minutes on a British dance company. Mine was on Motionhouse. There’s an ongoing theme of attempting to define contemporary dance but the bottom line is that no one can, or if you think you can, the person next to you’s definition will be completely different (leave yours in the comments below), so it’s more about challenging your opinion and opening your mind.

Rethinking Choreography

To be honest, I really don’t enjoy this module. It’s just a 3-hour workshop every week, and we had only a few lectures last term just to reinforce the ideas and themes we were exploring in the workshops. Last term was about processes and lead up to another ten-minute presentation in which we had to use improvisation as a tool for creating movement and explore distillation and abstraction – two processes I’d never heard of before and took me a long time to get my head around as they’re pretty similar which doesn’t help understanding. Saying that, I didn’t do too badly in my assessment at all.

Exploring the Dance Profession

This module is eye opening, it alternates between a lecture and a seminar every week. It’s basically what it says on the tin, we learnt about every area of the industry from teaching to performing and had guest speakers from different organisations and have learnt lots about how the profession operates and how funding works etc. as well as the future of the profession and how it’s developing – how we might one day fit into it.

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So there’s a bit of an explanation of what I was doing for the first three months of my course! It’s been really interesting to explore so many different areas of dance whereas before at A Level it was either dance class or analysing a performance and that’s all there was to it. As well as all that I’ve been dancing in a 3rd year choreography, attending IMCO (improvisation collective) and seen a fair few performances. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be choosing my modules for next year – there are two compulsory: Dance History and Understanding Balance and Co-ordination and at the moment I’m set on choosing Dance Technique (5 classes a week including ballet – we get the choice between 4 or 5, or you can choose not to do any practical at all) and Choreography for Screen and Live Performance.

Sorry this was such a lengthy post with so many words but I thought it’d be useful! You can probably expect another post like this in a few months’ time.

Much Love x

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