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During the challenging and uncertain times of Covid-19, the Dance4 Centre for Advanced Training team kept young people connected online through their love of dance with CAT Saturdays via Zoom and a collection of digital guest artist workshops.

We caught up with some new students who joined the programme during the pandemic to hear about their online CAT experience. Find out more from our CAT student Kaiden.

Tell me, how have you found joining the Dance4 CAT programme during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Joining the Dance4 CAT programme during the pandemic has been a kind of experience I have never experienced! At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to talk with current CAT students and I was also nervous that I wouldn’t enjoy it as I expected as I would be at home. How wrong I was! This opportunity has presented many things to me, even while being at home, like new friendships. I felt so welcomed straight away and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. The CAT programme offers insane levels of dance and there’s versatility even in one style. I do not feel as though I am missing out. Even at home, the remote learning with Dance4 CAT has been incredible. We have continued working with a vast variety of artists, all unique and amazing in their own ways, while giving us, as the students, the knowledge and ability to broaden our choreographic vocabulary. I feel inspired every Saturday and during the pandemic, it’s hard to be inspired! Sometimes, getting up on a Saturday morning isn’t for me, but once greeted with bright, lovely and joyous smiles, the day feels better within seconds.

What are you most looking forward to about returning to the studios?

I am beyond excited to be in the studios experiencing the CAT programme first-hand. While being online, I’ve gathered how the typical CAT Saturday runs and with that, I am so looking forward to dancing with the other students and being able to work with amazing artists in person. Working with artists in person is a whole new thing and the opportunities that CAT presents assure me that the in person lessons will be 10x better than the already insane experience I’m having now! I so miss dancing with other people and feeling the connection to the music in the studio. It motivates us to push through the aches and sweats and that is what I am most looking forward to when returning to the studios.

Being on the Dance4 CAT prograame, in what ways do you think you’ve developed in your dancing so far?

So many. Before joining the CAT programme, my understanding of dance was very little compared to now. During the programme, I’ve come to understand that dance doesn’t always have to be pretty. I know that dance is about telling your story or feeling the reach and the pull when moving. The power of isolated movements and contrast in whole space activity. The creative box in my choreographic brain was untouched until I joined CAT, now I understand the power of influence and willingness to let the body move and allow each move to be its own. My range of dynamics has improved drastically! I now understand that dance is more than arms and a few leg swings, it’s including each part of your body. Feeling the movement in my fingertips, my hips, neck, elbows, toes, ankles. The CAT programme allows you to have that knowledge and gives you new chances every week to add new things to your style of dance and to your story as a dancer. The CAT programme has also made me realise that mental health in dance is just as important. We forget that we must look after our body and this programme for sure opens that bubble of thought and includes that conversation a lot!

How has it been having the opportunity to work with lots of different choreographers?This is something I’ve never experienced before. I’m so used to one teacher every lesson, 3 days a week for hours and learning a specific routine. Having the opportunity to work with different artists so frequently has allowed me to understand that everyone dances differently, everyone has their own ‘style’ of contemporary dance and their own story to tell. This opportunity has made me a better dancer because now I have lots of experience with all interpretations of a very broad style which allows me to expand my horizons in dance. Taking these skills from all artists elsewhere gives me much more confidence in accepting other peoples’ styles and not just sticking to a leap and leg extension. Working with lots of artists has really taught me that dance is about range of dynamics and how powerful it is to use extension, isolation, contraction and throwing in strange shapes. Make it fun – that is a brilliant lesson I’ve discovered through working with a variety of artists!