I must apologise for my distinct lack of blogging recently, as they say 'time flies when you are having fun', and my addition is 'even more so when you are looking for a place to live in London'.
Last time I wrote I was jobless and homeless. Now I am just homeless. Well, not quite, I have a room for October, but the stress of moving (think back breaking heavy bags on the tube and a woman actually laughing in my face as she squeezed past my cargo on the escalator) for the third time in less than two months was enough to make me think I have to find The Room, and quick.
Enough of that though. As my friend said its better to be with job and without home than with home and without job. Which is very true. My job is at the London Studio Centre as their Library Assistant which means I work from roughly four until nine p.m. every weekday. With any job there comes a certain amount of worry, for me anyway, in the shape of the question 'is it going to restrict me too much?' As I am not the type of dancer who has gone for the audition and try to get in to a company kind of approach finding the right balance between work that pays my rent and dancing/dance work is, at least until I am more established, something that is ever present in my mind.
But sometimes you just have to except that generally the ideal is not available, so it means making an informed choice and sticking with it. Which is what I did/am doing. There are lots of benefits of working at London Studio Centre - it means my mornings, and generally weekends, are still free to take class/develop my own work/work on the projects I am doing with Lindy Nsingo and Jordan Massarella and Sam cook or pick up bits of extra work when needed (I have an interview coming up at the Barbican which I am pretty excited about - their next exhibition on Japanese fashion/art looks amazing), and that I have access to lots of good books to educate myself more. Being in a dance environment is also something I understand and somewhere I feel comfortable, that I can be myself and that makes me want to work, although it has crossed my mind if it was a wise move, in terms of meeting members of the opposite sex, to put my self back in a dance school five evenings a week....
I have also gotten myself to class. Not as much as I should/wanted to (interviews/moving house got in the way), but I went. The first set of classes I did was with Jeremy Nelson at the Siobhan Davies Studio and this week with Nigel Charnock at Greenwich Dance Agency.
The Siobhan Davies studio is somewhere I have been eager to get to as from my Leeds view point there seemed to be lots of good stuff I was missing out on. The studio its self is beautiful in terms of architecture and a very inspiring place to dance, and if you buy a ten class card (no 'use within' time period) classes are exceptionally cheap - three pounds fifty for two hours.
Jeremy is a great teacher to take class with. He is very knowledgeable and it shows in his body and how he moves. His concern is much more focussed on the body's structure and how this informs movement, rather than aiming for an aesthetic. He is also very humble and genuine. It was a good class to do as my first one 'back' after Northern. It was also exciting because it reminded me that now I am free to seek out the people and teachings I can relate to, and that work for me as a dancer.
The architecture of Borough Hall, Greenwich Dance Agency's base, is also very distinctive, another level of enjoyment to class. Combine that with the teaching of Nigel Charnock and you have a pretty satisfying experience, for me anyway.
When I saw Nigel's name on the program of up coming classes I knew that was one not to miss (in fact despite writing it in my diary I was so eager that I turned up a week early expecting Nigel. It was in fact Lauren Potter, which turned out to be a super class too, so good to know about). He rarely teaches in the UK which is a great shame. His energy is unique. You would be forgiven for thinking he was insane, but underneath the firecracker energy is experience, wisdom and reason. He also picks a darn good sound track for his teaching, something which has an amazing impact on the energy of the class.
Performance wise I also had an interesting couple of weeks. I did a series of four performances as a culmination of the Street Training project I took part in, which I will go in to more detail about in its own blog.
Late one Friday night an fellow NSCD foundation student (she did her degree at The Place), Jessamin Landamore, who has been super supportive in my London move, sent me a link to a last minute posting on Londondance.com looking for a replacement for a dancer to accompany a band at an 'arty' gig. It was posted by House of Boing,click here to see the website I text the number provided thinking they would have already found a replacement, but they hadn't, so I got the 'job' (not paid...but dancers would receive pictures and video). We had a rehearsal on the Saturday and then performed at the gig on Sunday night. It turned out to be a fun experience. Sandra, who is House of Boing was really lovely and the band, French for Cartridge were great too. The 'piece' itself was improvised, which I enjoy, and as a group we gelled quite well considering we had only just met. We also got some good feedback from audience members after the show. All in all a positive experience - I got to dance in a crazy costume with a huge net ruffle collar, and learnt about a new and interesting venue called 'Jamboree', a little bar in one room of an old sweet factory now converted into artists studios.
Shortly after that another NSCD foundation friend of mine, Alex Hemsley (she did her degree at LABAN and completed Edge this year), who I very much enjoy seeing in class, asked me to dance along side Helena Webb (NSCD foundation, LABAN degree) and Rosie Heafford (LABAN degree) in a piece she was putting together for an event organised by a friend of hers, Sally Mumby-Croft (studied at Goldsmith's). Sally lives in a block of flats that is one of a set of two blocks connected by balconies and a fifth floor terrace, with great views over London. Rehearsing in the sunshine, in the open air, with panoramic views over of my new home city gave me the same feelings I experienced years ago when I was at the top of the Empire State Building looking down and I thought 'I live here' - excitement, joy and gratitude. The evening hosted art installations in the lift, in somebody's apartment, on the terrace and performances of Alex's piece 'Brigade/What am I looking at?'and Marnie Holland's (also ex Goldsmith's student) work 'Gas', which is a solo performed by Alex.
Again, it was a pretty last minute thing, and our schedules all clashed terribly, so we had time for one initial group rehearsal and then Alex saw us individually to work on our solos. 'Brigade/What am I looking at?' was split in to two parts - Brigade, a set series of walks that took us around the balconies connecting the two blocks of flats, ending in a scramble over the terrace fence, to begin the second part, 'What am I looking at?'. This consisted of three solos, which were structured improvisations, the performance being the first time we had danced them together. Unfortunately in between the gloriously sunny rehearsal and the performance the weather had turned and it was incredibly windy and cold. But Alex was in the audience listening in on people's comments and despite the low temperatures people seemed to enjoy what they saw.
I haven't worked with Alex since foundation over four years ago (we made a duet together that was very personal and risky for both of us) and it was a real pleasure to do so again. In the four years that have passed she has worked on many different projects with numerous choreographers, as well as her completing her degree and the post graduate company Edge. What I respect in Alex is her commitment to and learning from each of the works she has done, and her constant desire to develop herself further as an artist. This was clear in the sensitive, specific and focused direction she gave us while working on this project, I felt I was working with a professional.
All in all, a good few weeks. Things are coming together. Now to find The Room so I don't miss anymore precious class time hauling my life around London.