Celebrating Richard Alston Dance Company

Dancers’ Career Development (DCD) last night celebrated a sublime and very emotional evening of dance at Richard Alston Dance Company’s farewell programme at Sadler’s Wells.

We are honoured to mark Richard Alston Dance Company’s final season, celebrating 26 years of shaping contemporary dance in the UK.

DCD and Richard Alston Dance Company have partnered together for over 26 years, supporting their incredible dancers to explore their potential on and off the stage throughout and beyond their performance careers.

Speaking about DCD’s Personal and Career Coaching Programme, former Richard Alston Dance Company dancer Ino Riga said:

I feel that I got to know myself better and trust myself and choices more. It has given me a lift emotionally, a sense of hope. The realization of owning your life and choices and that you need to keep trying, taking action towards making things happen for you.

Richard Alston Dance Company’s artists have been able to transition into their next chapter into a diverse range of retraining and careers in psychotherapy, web design, film making and media and cultural management, as well as fields such as yoga, pilates, teaching and choreography.

We wish all those in the company the very best and look forward to continuing our important work supporting all professional dancers in the UK.

To find out more and to support our work or if you’re a dancer wishing to access our support, please get in touch at dancers@thedcd.org.uk.

 

Photo credit: Richard Alston Dance Company

Embracing the Unknown

DCD’s EVOLVE workshops are about inspiration and finding out what resources you already have and how you can use them.

We recently had the privilege to hear first hand from DCD supported dancer Adam Ellis, now Head of Education and Customer Experience for Jo Loves, the worldwide renowned fragrance brand, created and owned by Jo Malone CBE, and DCD supported dancer and Patron, Zenaida Yanowsky, former Principal with The Royal Ballet. Both shared their personal experiences of transitioning beyond a performance career at our last EVOLVE workshop, held at the Royal Opera House in London in November.

Here are just a few fascinating insights…

Adam – “I had 13 mostly glorious years of performing in Musical Theatre. Even at the height of my career, I felt there were other things I wanted to do and I had more in me. I talked to DCD and decided to take a foundation course in medicine. I thrived in the learning environment, even though I’d never focused on academics before. It had opened up my mind to all the amazing things that we as performers can do. We have an incredible set of transferable skills. I decided not to pursue medicine, and listened to my heart and I continued performing. I had a panto contract but decided not to do it, I was burnt out. I got a temp job at Jo Loves for the Christmas season. I worked the shop floor and had lots of fun and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. After 2 weeks I met Jo Malone. She offered me an assistant manager job, which I took. I was still auditioning, it has been a long process. Within 6 months I became events manager and then they created the role of Global Head of Education and Customer Experience. I could never have imagined in a million years that I would have ended up working for a perfume brand, something so different to the world of theatre. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I have a very strong work ethic which comes from being a performer, and I’m still ambitious. But I’m happy with my lot, I’m content. Your life will change, but you take the skills with you. Embrace that.”

 

 

Zenaida – “I spent 23 years at the Royal Ballet, and the time went so fast. I experienced so many wonderful and also tough creative moments. I decided to leave the company but continue with dance projects until I was ready to stop. I felt very confused about my decision and my identity. When I retired from performing, I was ready to stop. I spent a year asking myself why I wanted to retire, and what I would miss the most. I was lucky to have my husband’s support to take time out. I mattered in the dance world – but would I matter in the world outside? It took a while for the anxieties to dissipate and feel content with my choices. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, but I feel calm and excited for the future and all its possibilities.”

When did you last step out of your comfort zone, and what did you learn about yourself?

Sign up to our next EVOLVE workshop in Edinburgh on 22 March 2020 and find out…

thedcd.org.uk/evolve

#DCDEVOLVE

 

Photos taken by DCD supported dancer and photographer Amber Hunt

Planting the seed

DCD’s support for dancers begins from the earliest stages of vocational training, throughout their performance career and through retirement.

Research shows that early preparation for career transition can help avoid the challenges some dancers face when they retire from professional performance and even lead to a more fulfilling and successful post-performance career.

DCD’s Schools and Conservatoires programme, kindly supported by the Linbury Trust, works with students in their final 3 years of professional dance training. The first programme of its kind in the UK, this unique programme is a hugely important part of our work supporting dancers.

I learnt how versatile and adaptable performers actually are”. “[The workshop] opened my mind to what else I could do”.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance student workshop participants

This past year DCD has delivered workshops at The Royal Ballet School, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Elmhurst Ballet School and we have an ongoing relationship with Rambert School, English National Ballet School and The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The programme continues to expand its reach as we are working with schools from across the dance sector, from ballet to contemporary and Musical Theatre, across the UK.

As a result of the programme, professional dancers who originally came into contact with DCD through the Schools and Conservatories workshops are now taking part in DCD support programmes from early in their professional careers, better equipping them to deal with the transition beyond a performance career.

To find out more or to join the Schools and Conservatoires Programme go to: https://thedcd.org.uk/why-work-with-dcd/dcd-schools-and-conservatoires-programme/

Dance Mama Live!

As DCD works with hundreds of dancers each year, it has not been hard to spot that there is a correlation between the point in life when dancers are transitioning and when they are becoming parents.

Parenthood is a huge transition in itself and can present financial, logistical and practical challenges for professional dancers to continue working in the same way. It can be a strong factor in a dancer’s decision to change their working life.

DCD was delighted to recently have been a part of the very first ‘Dance Mama Live!’ event at Sadler’s Wells, hosted by Lucy McCrudden.

This free event was an opportunity for parents in dance to come together (and bring their children along with them) to share experiences, challenges and solutions to maintaining a career in dance alongside parenthood.

DCD are a part of the support available to dancers who are parents or may become parents in the future.

Firstly, to help ensure that dancers can continue performing for as long as it is right for them, regardless of their circumstances. Secondly to ensure that those transitioning within or outside the dance sector have knowledge and access to the best possible conditions for balancing their work and home-life priorities. These factors can allow dancers to reach their true potential in their performance career and beyond.

We are proud to work alongside Dance Mama and Parents in Performing Arts to contribute to this important conversation.

You can read Dance Mama’s blog about the day here: https://www.dancemama.org/post/dance-mama-live

Best practice from around the world

Last week, representatives from 11 countries around the world came together in Warsaw, Poland to discuss support for dancers in career transition.

Hosted by the Polish Career Transition Program for Dancers, this was as part of the annual conference of the International Organisation for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD) – the international network of organisations dedicated to offering professional dancers the resources and support they need when facing the end of their performance career and preparing to pursue a new career.

DCD is a founding member of the IOTPD and we were delighted to share our expertise on a panel discussing best practice in supporting dancers through career transition from around the world.

There was much discussion during the conference around the unique nature of dancer transition and the parallels that can be found with other fields, including for example, sport and the military. The Dancer Transition Resource Centre in Canada, for example, are looking to pilot their transition model with other artistic mediums such as musicians and actors.

We took inspiration from the range of support being offered to dancers in other countries, such as in house workshops in ballet companies in Germany; transferable skills grants in areas such as web design and virtual reality in Canada; innovative membership structures and grant giving policies in the Netherlands; online resources and webinars in the USA; skills assessments with a psychologist in Switzerland; and career counselling in France.

DCD are pioneers in the sector, being the first transition centre in the world. Due to our unique funding and structure, DCD is able to offer a bespoke range of support programmes, responding specifically to dancers’ needs in the UK.

We’re excited to see more transition centres being set up around the world and to continue to share our expertise.

To find out more go to: https://thedcd.org.uk/support/grants-for-international-dancers/

Supporting BBC Young Dancer 2019’s Finalists

DCD works in partnership with many of the UK’s leading brands and organisations within and outside of the dance industry. We are proud to count the BBC as one of these prestigious collaborations, working together as part of the BBC Young Dancer series.

Since 2015 DCD has provided confidential, bespoke career transition support to the finalists of this exciting competition, and we continue this work with the 2019 cohort of finalists.

 

The [DCD] session was hugely beneficial and rewarding for everyone involved. What it highlighted for me was the need for young dancers to have guidance and support in dealing with being thrown into the limelight at such a young age, managing the pressures of turning professional and coping with the emotional strains involved with being a performer…” Previous BBC Young Dancer finalist

 

The competition celebrates and showcases the exceptional talent of young South Asian, Contemporary, Ballet and Street Dance dancers in the UK.

Through a bespoke programme of high-quality and meaningful support, including individual coaching sessions and group workshops, DCD is working to help equip the finalists to help them in their dance careers and beyond.

We are also delighted that this year’s mentors include several DCD supported dancers mentoring the finalists, including Mbulelo Ndabeni, Avatăra Ayuso, Urja Desai Thakore, Begońa Cao, Iain Mackay, Bethany Kingsley-Garner and judges Seeta Patel, Ben Wright, Zenaida Yanowsky, as well as David Bintley, Director of DCD Partner Company Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Work began in March in Manchester, where DCD delivered workshops to each group of category finalists. We we look forward to the workshops planned for the upcoming year, covering areas such as career navigation, resilience, self-esteem as well as networking and handling social media. The finalists will have the opportunity to share their experiences of taking part in the competition and also hear first hand from established artists and former competition finalists.

 

Make sure to catch BBC Young Dancer 2019 on BBC Four from 19 April: www.bbc.co.uk/youngdancer

 

Celebrating the life and legacy of Brenda Naylor

DCD last month celebrated the legacy of eminent sculptor and dance artist, Brenda Naylor, on the anniversary of her death. We celebrate her extraordinary career and pay tribute to the kindness and generosity she showed in leaving a legacy to benefit dancers in their lives beyond performance.

Brenda Naylor (5 July 1926 – 11 March 2016) was an artist and sculptor for whom dancers inspired a prolific legacy of work. She was known for her bronze sculptures, for the inimitable and intimate style of her studio, rehearsal and performance sketches and for her vibrant, determined character.

Brenda left instructions that her art created over many years should benefit charity after her death, and particularly help dancers move on to second careers following their lives on stage. 75% of the sale price of artworks purchased via Brenda’s website is donated directly to DCD, and there are unique pieces still available to purchase here.

Speaking of her decision to support DCD, David and Annie Lade, Brenda’s nephew and niece-in-law explained:

“Brenda was an artist, but she was also a very practical person. Brenda knew that DCD is an organisation offering very practical help to dancers coming to the end of their stage careers. She took up sculpting in her fifties, and knew better than most that we can have more than one career. She greatly admired the incredible hard work and dedication of the dancers she encountered, and cared very much about them and their future lives.”

 

Top Left: The late Brenda Naylor, 5th July 1926 – 11th March 2016; Right: Mark Morris Dancers, studio sketch by Brenda Naylor; Bottom Left: Bronze of Marion Tait in “Confessional” by Brenda Naylor

 

Brenda trained at St Martin’s as a fashion sketch artist before being selected in 1943 by the royal dressmaker Norman Hartnell to be his sketch artist and later assistant. Brenda had a longstanding artistic interest in movement, gained initially from a passion for drawing horses and later skaters, which developed into an interest in ballet and deep appreciation for dance and dancers.

In the 1980s, she received permission to sketch and photograph dancers of the Royal Ballet. From these she made sculptures, an art form for which she was entirely self-taught, capturing the beauty in movement of those dancers she most admired. As she gained recognition for her ability to capture movement, many of her sculptures went on to be exhibited in London galleries and theatres and came to be sought after by collectors.

To date, the sale of Brenda’s artworks have raised over £40,000 for DCD. There are still a number of beautiful artworks remaining, which can be viewed and purchased via http://brendanaylor.co.uk/ or please contact Clare Davis at Clare@thedcd.org.uk, to arrange a private viewing of the remaining collection.