The next in our series of Tutor Tuesdays is Stina Sommerlade, one of our lecturers in dance. Find her at @
Siobhan Mitchell from the University of Bath has written a wonderful review of Dr Angela Pickard’s book Ballet body narratives: pain, pleasure and perfection in embodied identity.
Below are some highlights and a link to the full article.
“Pickard’s ethnographic exploration of the social world of ballet is an excellent resource for dance
enthusiasts, dance teachers and academics alike.”
“Pickard uses compelling excerpts from the lived experiences of young dancers from her
research to illustrate these ideas. Using Bourdieu’s logic of practice Pickard describes how the
values of classical ballet are transmitted and perpetuated via the ballet school and ballet class.”
There has been a great deal of work going on with the research side of our dance department.
Firstly, the latest copy of Research in Dance Education, edited by our Dr Angela Pickard, the subject lead for Subject Lead for Dance, Drama and Performing Arts and Principal Investigator Dance for Health Research at Sidney De Hann Centre for Arts and Health has been released recently. This issue, focusing on the teaching of dance and different aspects of world dance curriculum, is part of an ongoing journal looking into dance education and is well worth a read. (Please see link below)
As well as this, the Canterbury Dance Company (formed by Dr. Pickard in 2009 and is currently Artistic Director and choreographer), a 14 strong auditioned group made up of undergraduate and postgraduate dancers, have had a number of performance projects throughout the year. Previous work has involved collaborations with classical and jazz musicians and sound artists and has been choreographed by Angela Pickard such as Gravity Falls (2012), Piano in the Woods (2014) and Lamentation (2015). They have also had guest choreographers such as Matthias Sperling and dancers from Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company as artists in residence.
This year they undertook Dance Re-Mix – a showcase performance of student choreography in Anselm as part of Canterbury Festival and a lyrical piece for the Carols by Candlelight in the Cathedral accompanied by the Top Voice University choir. The current piece they are working on is being choreographed by guest choreographer Ash Mukhejee.
4 Christ Church students have been working recently on The Avanti Project in Kent. It had been developed by Dance United artists and CUE in partnership with Kent County Council Early Help and Preventative Services and Canterbury Christ Church University and funded by Kent County Council. 8 young people, 4 students studying Dance Education at Canterbury Christ Church University: Katherine Button, Ben Hughes and Abbie Shepherd were engaged as role models throughout the project. Aaron Smith is currently studying Masters of Arts in Arts and Cultural Management was a dance artist for this project. Here is his account of working with them.
Through my time at The Avanti Project I had learnt a variety of skills and unknown qualities about myself as a teacher/performer, but it was through Avanti that I found a passion for teaching. The first week as a dance teacher trainee, I was very nervous but excited as I didn’t know what to expect, all I knew was that we’d be teaching dance to marginalised youth. This was very nerve racking because as I have experienced when I viewed myself as a marginalised youth, dance did not appeal to me as a male. This was because the friends I were socialising with were very against dance and saw it as ‘gay/only for girls’. The Avanti became very personal to me, as I have experienced the struggles that some of the young people were going through. It was only when I saw my first London theatre performance I was inspired by performing and changed my A-Level from training with the Football Academy to Performing Arts. It was since then that changed my life and found my passion for Performing/dance. Finishing my BA Hons (performing Arts) at Canterbury Christ Church University to now taking my knowledge further doing an MA (Arts and cultural management) has led me to believe that dance can change people’s lives; whether this is developing dancers/teachers or to evolve a variety of skills that is needed in everyday life.
From the first taster session at Avanti, I was thrown into the deep end and was teaching 3 exercises and a phrase of movement, as the weeks progressed my nerves subsided and I enjoyed working on developing dance and dancers. I worked on perfecting the choreography and offering support and challenge. With the support of Ellen Steinmuller and Kwesi Johnson and also everyone involved within ‘The Avanti Project’, I had an enjoyable and incredible teaching experience that I will never forget. From my view, projects like this provide an opportunity for youth with difficult backgrounds to sacrifice what they are, for something that they can become. creating an environment where failure is praised and achieving is worshipped.