In the afternoon the Alumni took over, running five different workshops. Tim Clark, a graduate in 2013, explored the audition process. He also spoke about the benefits that we can take away from this sometimes impersonal process. Bridget Lappin passed on her advice for managing the realities of the freelance lifestyle, including what changes when you no longer have the amenities an institution can offer. The Sparse Collective came back to share how they navigate working collaboratively, giving their advice on managing a large group and the various timetables that each person may have. After three very practical sessions, explaining the realities that new dance artists face, Daniel Persson shared his insight into applying what we have learned as dance students to other creative fields. According to Daniel, this can be either to make extra income or simply diversify your resume. The final workshop was held by Eddie Nixon who passed on his knowledge about chorographic applications. Eddie graduated in 1995, after a career in dance he became the Director of Theatre and Artist Development at The Place. After reading a multitude of applications, as his job entails, Eddie had a lot of interesting insight into what excites the reader and how to really sell your work.
After a great afternoon full of tips and lessons learned, the panel discussion took place to finish off the day. The panel consisted of alumni from London Contemporary Dance School, all with diverse working backgrounds and current positions. Anaish Nathan Parmar has had a varied career with an interest in administrative roles since graduating from LCDS in 2009. He is now an Events Executive for Cancer Research UK. Eddie Nixon has held various jobs with dance companies throughout the UK (New Adventures, Protein Dance, DV8 Physical Theatre, and Mark Bruce). He began working at The Place in 2005 and was appointed Director in 2009. Clare Connor, who graduated in 1991, is The Place’s incoming Chief Executive. Claire has an extensive resume beginning with her dance career and later transitioning into education. The final panel member was Sue Homeyard. A 1981 graduate, Sue had a career in dance before moving into market research. She is now the MD in charge of Operations at a market research company. All four of the panelists have used their skills gained from dance training to successfully follow alternative pathways and careers. We gained a wealth of advice from the panel members. One student asked, ‘How difficult was it to move away from dancing, into something new?’ Each panel member dealt with this transition in his or her own way but it was clear that their love of dance never faded. They have carried that love throughout their lives. They encouraged us to trust the skills gained from our training to translate into other careers, emphasising the importance of an artist’s innate creativity to problem solving in the work place. We were reminded that we can be activists as artist and use our unique paths to close the gap between the dance world and the outside world. The discussion was inspiring and motivating for the students listening.
This year’s student conference was a testament to current conservatory dance training. Training is an asset, preparing individuals for any career path desired. As students either still in training or awaiting graduation, we were reminded that confidence in our value as artists is essential for navigating though time after The Place. Once you have trained at The Place, you are apart of a network bursting with unique individuals and defying the expectations placed on dance artists. After this day, it is clear that we can pursue our dance careers knowing that it is just the next step on an exciting path in our lives.