May we dance?!

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How did you get involved in contemporary dance?
When I was little I loved to make up dances in my bedroom and perform to my parents. My first experience of contemporary dance was at high school. I had an incredibly inspirational teacher who was passionate and moved beautifully. She introduced me to the work of Pina Bausch, Leah Anderson and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker - these women inspired me to study dance further and I trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance for three years.

How did you become involved with LGBT Foundation’s Trans Programme?
I moved to Manchester last year and was keen to get involved with the LGBT community so I signed up to volunteer at the LGBT Foundation. I facilitated a taster workshop at Sparkle in July and the response was really positive.

What does the term physical wellbeing mean to you?
It think that everyone has a unique, and sometimes complicated, relationship with their body and factors like stress, change or fear can affect both our physical and mental health. Dancing offers a way to explore and delight in our physical being and feels like a necessary and enjoyable addition to the Trans Programme.

You’re running a series of free contemporary dance workshops next month, what can attendees expect?
The sessions will be inclusive and energetic. A great way to get in touch with your body, express yourself and learn a new style of movement.

To begin, we will focus on the foundations of contemporary dance technique to improve strength and coordination. Then using great music, we will master new skills and dance routines. There will be space to explore your individual movement style and also chance to create your own choreography. Each session will build from the previous, so clear your Friday evenings and come and dance with us each week.

Please wear comfortable clothes that you can move in, and be aware that we will be dancing in our socks.

How do you think that barriers to accessing sports and physical classes can be combatted? 
Often, even the thought of engaging in group exercise or creative activity can feel intimidating, expensive and inaccessible and it’s such a shame that there are so many perceived barriers to dancing. Many commercial and classical styles of dance promote a specific body type that can feel alienating and unrealistic. I hope that contemporary dance can combat some of these barriers, in that diversity is celebrated far more and training focuses on each individual rather than striving to mould all dancers a certain way.

Contemporary dance classes can also include improvisation and choreography, giving participants space to dance their own dance and take ownership. It would be great if Manchester could be a place to offer accessible and diverse classes. This month of workshops at LGBT Foundation for the Trans Programme could be the pilot for many more.

Barriers can be combated by offering classes for free, running them in a safe and accessible environment and recruiting teachers who have experience working with many different groups of people.

For further details about May's free contemporary dance classes please visit this page.