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Upper Sixth Pupil Secures Her Place at York University to Study Dance Performance


Natasha (Tash) Desmond (U6) has recently been given an unconditional offer from York University to study Dance Performance in September. We sat down with Natasha and her dance teacher Jodie to tell us more about her love of dance and the audition process…

How long have you been dancing?

Tash - I have been dancing at Culford for the past four years. I started dancing with Jodie this year which has been great.

Jodie – I have taken on Tash’s dance lessons and we are trying to take her passion to the next level. Rather than just offering it as a class, we are looking at it as a career and an opportunity because dance is her passion and she gives up her own free time to train.

What is your favourite type of dance?

Tash - Now, I would say Contemporary. At the beginning I wasn’t so sure but now I love it.

What other types of dance do you do?

Tash - I’ve done modern and ballet before which was good and a bit of jazz and musical theatre.

Jodie – The reason we offer contemporary dance lessons is because on the curriculum across all schools it is contemporary that is offered at GCSE, A Level and degree level. It has theory to it and a context so you have the academic and practical strand. You have improvisation, creative, physical theatre and choreography, which we have been working on with Tash for her solos.

Tash – I found the choreography really challenging at the beginning but I am enjoying it more now.

Jodie – The title of the course that Tash is doing is Dance Performance which specialises in contemporary but it has a lot of areas to it. They do a professional tour; they get the chance to go on an exchange abroad and work with amazing choreographers. It is based in York and there is a hub called Yorkshire Dance which all the professional dancers and a lot of companies work with. Where Tash is going is in the top ten best Universities to study dance.

Are you really excited for University now?

Tash – Yes! Really really excited.

What did you have to do for your audition?

Tash - I had to do sequences, so I did a floor sequence and a movement sequence. Then we did creative, so I had to do improvisation. The one I did was with a partner where one person would touch you on a body part and you would move from that and create a piece. I then had to do improvisation on the spot.

Did you find it hard?

I thought I would but I didn’t find it too bad.

How many other people were there?

Tash – There was just four of us.

Jodie – York only has 20 spaces on a course and they do it in smaller groups or hold a workshop day. It can sometimes be harder this way as people can see you more. Tash deserves a lot of recognition for securing her place as we don’t offer GCSE or A Level dance at Culford and a lot of people who would have auditioned would have done this at either GCSE or A Level. Tash has used her own time to come to dance lessons; she has done loads of research and took part in the musicals which has stood her in amazing stead.

Do you have to get any certain grades in your A Level’s to secure your place?

Tash - No I have an unconditional offer. I still need to work hard though!

Jodie – A lot of people ask why do dance? And this is why the contemporary route is so good. You can do a PGCE straight after, help in the community, work with youth companies, and work in the performing arts industry. There are so many avenues that Tash will be able to go down. Whatever happens after her degree she will have so many areas to explore which is amazing.

What do you think you want to do after University?

Tash - I want to spend a few years in a dance company touring and then maybe do my PGCE and teach.

If you were in a company what kind of things would you be doing?

Tash - Community work, workshops, performances and tours.

Jodie – In a company you tour the UK. You could be performing in a large venue or a small one. The way you receive funding is to have an educational project behind you and the money you receive from this supports your tour. For example, you perform professionally and then you would lead a workshop for the people who have come to see it, or go round schools. You get both parts, which is amazing, as you get to perform and you get to teach.

Why do you like to dance?

Tash - I like to dance because it’s a way for me to express myself without speaking and I can get my feelings out through it. If I am in a bad mood I will go and dance to feel better.

Jodie – I think Tash is totally committed and she really deserves this opportunity. I think it’s amazing as well. A year ago Tash was looking at Maths places for University but couldn’t write her statement and found it very difficult. Once she knew she had the support from her teachers here at Culford to apply for Dance Performance we went through all the avenues and she managed to go away and write her personal statement straight away. I am glad she looked at the Maths side as well, but I think it takes a lot of courage to do something that isn’t as academic. I’m ecstatic it has worked out and I also hope she inspires a lot of other students here who may want to pursue a dance career.
Published: May 5 2017

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