I'm Emily, and I'm a dance artist
Describe your job
I am a Screendance artist who works within contemporary dance. I find inspiration from other artists in different art forms as well as choreographers, and even photographers on Instagram. I also regularly accumulate ideas on choreography, shots and settings for future films I’d like to create. I enjoy taking pictures of beautiful scenery and my cat, and incorporating natural settings into my films. As a bibliophile and an avid reader of crime and fiction, I find books a great source of inspiration for creating work. You can find different content can spark ideas, even from non-dance books, but researching books in your field is always a great way to start.
As well as being a dance artist, 2020 has been the year I gained experience in producing, which was something I never knew I would be able to do. Professional dancers would benefit from gaining producing skills as it prepares you for the freelancing world. The current pandemic has also made it vital for work to move online in order for artists and businesses to keep going, which makes it a great time to familiarise yourself with adapting to the screen. Whether that’s creating an online dance work, an event or a dance class.
I left school and...
In 2014, I trained for two years at Havering College in BTEC Dance Performance and graduated Middlesex University in 2019, with a BA (Hons) in Dance Studies: Choreography. In second year, I studied dance on screen which initiated my interest in creating dance for camera and learning how to choreograph the edit. I was inspired by the endless possibilities of the camera: the change of locations, the distortion of time, the fragmentation of the body. I can take the audience on a journey that’s so different from a live performance. My next step is starting my MA in Screendance at The Place, London, this coming January.
I’m most proud of...
For the ScreenShare event I produced with Alison Thomas, we were honoured to have worked with some fantastic artists who we are so grateful to for being a part of our event. We were excited to announce Botis Seva from @farfromthenorm, James Cousins (@jamescousinsco) and Katrina McPherson (@katrinamcphersonart) as the mentors. Both mentees and mentors had such a warm and rewarding experience.
We also had wonderful independent dancer and choreographer, Lizzie J Klotz facilitate the ‘Introduction to Screendance’ workshop, which gave young people an opportunity to understand the theory of Screendance and further their filming skills with mobile phone cameras through practical tasks.
The ScreenShare panel discussion I co-produced also had an abundance of amazing panellists. The panel chair was Emma Cahusac, the Commissioning Editor for BBC Arts, Music and Performance, who has worked in factual television for 25 years.
Our panellists were Omari Carter (@themdcollective), Creative Director of The Motion Dance Collective, Alice Underwood (@alice_underwood_films), independent filmmaker for various choreographers, companies and organisations, and Jonzi D (@jonzid), founder and Artistic Director of Jonzi D Projects and Breakin’ Convention. We also had Ankur Bahl (@ankurbahl), Director of Content and Audiences at Sadler’s Wells and Miranda Sheehy (@tiny.dances), who with Guilia Coti Zelati formed Tiny Dances, a dance film sharing platform that uses Instagram to make dance more accessible to the general public. Each panellist brought their own perspectives and expertise that enriched the discussions and gave the audience amazing insight into Screendance; what it was, what it is now and what it might become in the future.
My co-producer and I put so much hard work into these events and we were so delighted and grateful to see our efforts pulled off. We had such a rewarding and fulfilling experience that showed us how much we are capable of as producers!
Before I started my career, I wish I knew…
I wish I had thought more about accessibility and providing different versions of my works to enable more people to view them. I think that’s another thing I like about Screendance is that it’s a video, it can be posted anywhere, accessed by anyone.
You can audio-describe it, BSL interpret it. You can make it so that more people can enjoy it. If you’re posting it online, people can watch for free and enjoy it from the comfort of their own home. There’s no access restrictions to a building and no expensive ticket price that prevent some people from attending theatre shows.
Screendance has made dance accessible to so many more people than just other dancers, artists, and theatre-goers. We need to reach wider audiences by catering to their access requirements. It should be normal to provide BSL interpretation, Audio Description and other forms of accessibility with any work or events that are produced. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience dance. This is something I will continuously consider and strive for with future projects.
Here’s my little nugget that first sparked my interest and realisation for my skill in creating dance for screen:
A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...
Remember to take time for yourself. I was recently told something that has completely changed my mentality: the work will always be there, but your health will not.
It made me realise that all the times I had spent sat at my laptop, trying to work my way through my long to do list in a bid to get it done all at once was not good for me. I would always have the mentality of get it done now and then you can relax and don’t have to do it later. But the work is always there. There is always a to-do list. So it meant I was never relaxing or if I was I was relaxing at 2am after I had spent the whole day working away. I was never taking time for myself, always on the go. I was burning the candle at both ends, as my nan would say. So I would like to save others from burning their candles out, it’s okay to take a break and take some time for yourself. Your health and happiness is important.
So, what’s next?
After my masters, I hope to work as a Screendance artist, creating work and collaborating with other artists. I’ve always been inspired by collaborations with different art forms. It would also be lovely to work with Alison Thomas again, my amazing ScreenShare co-producer. We created events that were so relevant and rewarding that it would be fantastic to obtain funding and produce ScreenShare again for other young people to experience.