Film created by DCD retrained dancer, Robert Gravenor

On Monday 29th September 2014, dance artists of Leeds descended on Northern Ballet for Dancers' Career Development's EVOLVE Workshop, facilitated by DCD retrained dancer and Certified Personal and Executive Coach, Isabel Mortimer.

DCD retrained dancer Sharon Watson spoke about her inspiring journey from professional dancer to Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, and former Northern Ballet star and DCD retrained dancer Matthew Hunt shared his fascinating and moving story of transitioning into a post-performance career in IT.

Facilitator Isabel Mortimer with speakers Sharon Watson and Matthew Hunt. Photo: Tim Cross

"The support of the DCD has been intrinsic to my journey. My non-linear pathway has enabled me to connect with creative people and places, build confidence and enter new territory. I am delighted to be in a position where I can share what I have learned, acting as a catalyst for wider change and growth.," Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre and DCD retrained dancer

The dancers, moved and motivated by what they had heard, then progressed into a series of group and solo activities designed to empower them to reflect upon their achievements, improve their focus and set goals for the future, while identifying the steps to achieve them.

Working closely together in a safe and intimate space, the dancers shared their experience and worries with one another, taking away new connections and networks along with a toolbox of practical tips to move forward on their life long career journeys.

Photo: Tim Cross

EVOLVE Workshops are a unique opportunity to bring dancers together to think and talk about career transition and personal development with like-minded people in a supportive and energised environment. The workshop reflects that fact that all dancers are individuals and are on their own paths, and values this breadth of experience while allowing each dancer to explore their own potential and take away a personal action plan.

,"An inspiring day learning how we all, as dancers, have so much to offer and can tap into our reserves.," Oliver Scott, independent dance artist and Director of Mercurial Dance

EVOLVE Leeds also saw the launch of DCD's brand new EMERGE Shadowing Programme, which gives professional dancers the opportunity to 'dip their toe' in the water of a potential new career area without a heavy financial or time investment.

Tara Bhavnani of The Royal Ballet shadowed DCD's Grants and Careers Officer to learn about events management; former Royal Ballet dancer Rebecca Trevitt shadowed facilitator and coach Isabel Mortimer; independent dancer Katharine Markee shadowed photographer and DCD retrained dancer, Tim Cross; and independent dance artist Morgann Runacre-Temple shadowed DCD retrained dancer and filmmaker, Robert Gravenor.

Morgann Runacre-Temple and Robert Gravenor. Photo: Tim Cross

,"I was very moved by the giving attitude of everybody at the EVOLVE event. It was massively positive and also an intense and exciting experience. A licence to dream is no small gift!," Katharine Markee, EMERGE photography shadow

,"Listening to Katherine's questions and concerns echoed many of my feelings at the very start of my career. It was useful for me to stop and reflect on my progression - I was surprised at the amount of information that I have had to absorb in a relatively short time.," Tim Cross, EMERGE photography host

Two short films, about EVOLVE Leeds and EMERGE, will be soon be available to view on the DCD website.

Look out for the next EVOLVE Workshop which will be announced soon.

Photo: Tim Cross

Find out more about EMERGE

Feedback on EVOLVE Leeds #1

"It is very important to explore issues of transition and career progression in a supportive environment with other dance artists. Highly relevant content and multi-layed complex issues have been delivered in a fun and inclusive way." Stina Sommerlade, independent dance artist

"I learnt to continue, don't settle and don't live in the comfort zone. Thank you, it was really great." Matthew Hunt, former Northern Ballet dancer

"I personally learned I need to assume less and experience more. It was great to be with people who were similar-minded. It made me think about what's next massively!" Independent dance artist

"I learnt a lot about my own skills and ability. It allowed me to recognise my achievements and establish goals. Fantastic event." Anthony Middleton, independent dance artist

"I learnt that I am on the right exploration track, that I can evolve gradually,and that dancers are super awesome!" Tania Pieri, musical theatre dancer

"Career transition is a challenging operation, but there are tools that are specially designed to help you. It is OK to need and ask for help. I already have a lot of skills, opportunity and validation." Morgann Runacre-Temple, independent dance artist and EMERGE filmmaking shadow

"Just to hear about other people's stories of transitions and to be aware and consider, even now, what else I am interested in. Thank you." Mia Marson, independent dance artist