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Empower, connect and develop
Date posted: 06 March 2019
People Dancing's Summer School 2019 is just around the corner and so we spoke to Community Dance Practitioner and Creative Director of Bodyrox Dance Company, Leah Waterfield about the impact of getting a bursary and taking part last year

How did you find out about the People Dancing Summer School?

I came across People Dancing's Summer School when I was searching for some CPD (Continuing Professional Development) early last year. I was keen to find something to feed my development in community dance which was within easy travelling distance for me, so I could return to my own classes in the evenings. I was in the process of renewing my membership online when I came across the summer school workshops and contacted People Dancing immediately to find out more.

Did the opportunity to apply for a bursary encourage you to apply?

Yes! Running my own business, having a toddler and running a household proves tough when it comes to actually creatively treating myself! Seeing the words ‘bursary’ was a no-brainer… I had to fill out a short form online whilst applying to the summer school courses I was interested in. It was like a shopaholic had been gifted a very big voucher for their favourite store...YES!

Photograph: Theresa Haworth.

What three things would you say have impacted on or made a difference to your dance practice since attending the summer school?

Empowering the youth through dance has always been my priority and attending the Developing Youth Dance Practice course really solidified my learning about different approaches to the theories behind teaching and gaining ideas for empowering young people. I would say I am at my most confident right now as a practitioner and it really has stemmed from being in an environment which projects support to other practitioners attending the courses. It felt great to be back in a creative setting that, for me, was self-indulgent and I soaked up ideas from senior practitioners in the field who give their time to speak to me as an individual and were interested in my own practice. The courses have made a big impact on my practice since attending and as a young practitioner my tool belt has become bigger and I have implemented some changes to my practice since with the valuable information was provided.

What other things did you find beneficial about the summer school?

The networking was incredibly beneficial! Across the week I connected with people from all over the UK and some from different parts of the world! I have gained friends through this course who I speak to regularly about our practice and we bounce ideas off each other. It’s become a place that I know I can go to creatively engage, learn tools, make firm friends with others in the same boat as me and feel revived with CPD.

Photograph: Theresa Haworth.

Is there one thing that you have done differently since attending the summer school?

Yes, understanding that what I do is needed in the community and acting on my ideas much more immediately. I’ve gained confidence to try and make that connection that’s been in my notebook for months and developed a sense of pride in my practice.

What would you say to a younger practitioner, perhaps a new graduate to encourage them to apply?

As they say there is ‘no time like the present’! Absorb as much CPD as you can - as a new graduate/young practitioner your senses will be eager to find something you can sink your teeth into creatively. Not all workshops may resonate with you right now but think long-term and understand that as someone who has dedicated years of their life in an artform you could widen your skills and find yourself a new way of projecting income through mixing your existing knowledge with gained knowledge over the week.

Creating income as a new graduate can understandably be exhausting and every penny counts. Filling in a bursary form to attend the summer school takes minutes - go for it!

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Leah Waterfield, Community Dance Practitioner and Creative Director of Bodyrox Dance Company, aged 28, Northamptonshire