‘Why do you?’

Choreographer Joan Clevillé on creating a new work with Fusion Youth Dance Company

‘With contemporary dance you have to think for yourself, decide what you’re going to do, because it’s you who is dancing.’ This is one of the answers I got from a member of Fusion Youth Dance Company to the question: ‘why do you dance?’ during the creation process of a new short work for the Dance Live 16 festival. Together, we have been exploring this and other questions in a week-long residency at Citymoves, the regional dance agency for Aberdeen and North East Scotland.

We had an intensive schedule, including a morning dance class followed by five hours of rehearsals learning sequences, devising new movement material and crafting the structure of the piece. Every day, for a whole week, regardless of sore bodies or epic weather.

So why do these eight young women and men give up their mid-term holiday to commit to a dance project? What compels them, us, to dance? ‘It’s the freedom. You get to be as creative as you want. There are no guidelines: you can be yourself, and express what you’re feeling, ain’t that it?’.

Yes, pretty much. A lot of the work we have done during this week was related to becoming aware of what is happening in each moment, acknowledging it, and then making a decision. ‘Are we allowed to smile?’ – asked one of the dancers in one rehearsal – ‘I really feel like smiling when I do this piece’.

In a culture where so much value is given to outward appearance and success, dance gives us a precious space to re-connect with a deeper sense of ourselves, to ask questions, to acknowledge and celebrate our strength, complexity, and vulnerability as human beings; and (here’s the important part) to share them with others:

-‘I find it quite hard to communicate with new people verbally, so when I see them dance or they see me dance I can connect with  them.

– Have you changed a lot since you started dancing?

– (Laughing) Definitely, there’s no doubt about that! I am so much more confident, I used to mumble all the time and not want to ask questions… Now I am the opposite of that!

It doesn’t matter whether these young people ultimately decide to pursue a professional career in dance. Dance can help us navigate whatever path we choose in life, regardless of age, background or (dis)ability, and that’s why projects like Citymoves’ Fusion Youth Dance Company are so important. Watching these young people working so hard and accomplishing so much in such a short amount of time has been a wonderful experience, and I invite everyone to celebrate and cherish their work and all the fantastic performances part of Dance Live 16 programme.

Fusion Youth Dance Company performed ‘Why do you?’ on 18th October 2016 at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen as a curtain raiser for Plan B for Utopia by Joan Clevillé Dance. Why do you? will also be performed at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 3-8 Aug as part of Dance Base’s Youth Showcase.  Click here for more information and to book

Photos: See Imagine Define. Click the thumbnails below.