A while back I was randomly selected to take part in a discussion about the entry process into Northern, organised by the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama. It comprises of eight schools and devises policies intended to maintain a standard suitable to professional vocational training.

During the (group) discussion the topic of what each school thinks of the other came up. Basically the stereotype of each school.

Generally speaking it thought that the main three schools for contemporary dance in England are (in no particular order) the Northen School of Contemporary Dance, London Contemporary Dance School (both the afore mentioned schools being part of the Conservatoire) and Laban.

Northern is thought of as being very technically driven and not so creative. London Contemporay is seen as being a historically important school, whose central London location goes in its favour and Laban is seen as the school for 'academic' dancers and slightly more creatively experimental.

When the differences about schools comes up I always find it a bit silly. People talk like these things are fact. And see the traits as a negative. (Once, at Ponderosa contact festival in Germany I had a conversation with a freshly graduated Laban student. When I said I had just got a place at NSCD she sniggered and said 'and are you going to take it?' 'yes actually' I replied. 'Oh. Yeah. Well. I mean its just so....technical' she back tracked).

My point at the discussion, and always, is that yes stereotypes are often based in truth. But in the case of these schools other sides do exist. Laban teaches technique and we have creative classes.

Its not what the schools do, or if the stereotype is true that is important. But what is important is people realise that each school is very different.

But thats great and wonderful.

Because it means that all those different dancers out there can go to the place that nearest suits their needs. Listen to what you feel you need - technique, creativty, academic challenges, to be in london. Either way theres a place for you.