Case Study: DJ and Nicole from Corali Dance Company

DJ and Nicole are both dancers with Corali Dance Company, a UK company who focus on performers with learning disabilities, pairing them with collaborators from the wider dance world, offering career development and training opportunities. Here we meet two of their dancers who have completed Arts Award, at Bronze and Silver.

Case Study: DJ and Nicole from Corali Dance Company

DJ, Silver Arts Award achiever

When did you realise that you wanted to be a dancer?

When I was aged 5 or 6 years old it was something that was inside of me and I wanted to express myself. I wasn't afraid of getting up on the stage and dancing and showing off. That inspired me to continue with dancing and being in the spotlight.

How does dance make you feel?

It gives me a focus; it is part of me and how I express myself. It really helps me feel warm inside. It really gets me into the zone and get into the spirit, its brings me into a much happier self. Dance shows a very strong story and helps me get across my personality.

How did you find Corali, and was that your first experience of dance on this level?

I came across Corali in a workshop at Sadlers Wells, that is how Corali Dance Company found me. The workshop was a chance for me to get to know how Corali Dance Company work. I approached Corali and asked if I could be part of their company. I had done a lot of training here and there with lots of different styles, but I felt ready to be part of a company.

When did you decide to take your Arts Award?

Corali introduced me to Arts Award when I was starting to up my training. I was the first person with a learning diability to get a personal development grant from the Arts Council which I used to embark on my Silver Arts Award journey - which was overseen by Corali Dance Company. It was a first of its kind as there were no formal training opportunities for emerging artists with learning disabilities. I then sought out three placements with Wayne McGregor/Random Dance, Jonzi D productions and New Adventures who all helped me with my dance skills as a performer and dance workshop leader.

What was the most positive thing about taking an Arts Award?

The placements provided me with valauable advice, opportunities and developed my practice. All 3 of my placements were very different but very inspiring and I learnt lot. I learnt about difieerrent ways of devising and how to apprach choreography and be part of team. I created new links and built up relationship with other companies, directors, dancers and organisations.

Do you feel Arts Award has helped you work towards becoming a professional dancer?

ITS HAS INDEED! It has helped me boost my confidence and gain new skills, it has increased my profile as a dancer and leader. I have since taken on more paid work and has furthered my career.

Where do you see your career in ten years time?

I want to be creating and developing my own work and getting recognised for the work that I create. I want to continue being a leader, a role model and a facilitator.

What more can be done to provide creative opportunities for young people with learning disabilities?

More groups working in partnership with each other and more organisations working inclusively to encourage young people to be part of creative opportunities. A great way to encourage people to join is by having more role models to inspire and motivate each other.


Nicole, Bronze and Silver Arts Award achiever

When did you realise that you wanted to be a dancer?

From a very young age I have always liked dancing, everyone knew that I liked dancing. When I got to college I knew I wanted to take it more seriously but struggled to find the right courses for me. Unfortunately my college did not have anything for me and felt forced into childcare. However working with Corali I have been able to take my training and learning to further my experiences.

How does dance make you feel?

It makes me feel happy and full of energy! Dance always excites whether I watch it on stage or on film or if I am in the studio dancing myself. You never want dance to end, I just want to keep carrying on, and on, and on...

How did you find Corali, and was that your first experience of dance on this level?

I found out about Corali through my Support Manager, Hana, she recommended Corali Dance Company to me. Hana recognised my passion for dance. So I first came along to a Corali open day and it was then that I was invited to go along and watch a professional development class. I liked what I saw and decided to join Corali on their Wednesday session. By joining Corali it helped me understand the different ways of how they teach, the different styles they use and the type of staff they have working and the roles they play.

When did you decide to take your Arts Award?

So after joining the professional development class I then went on to do my Bronze Arts Award as part of the Kick Up project which is a 6 month project working with 14-25 year olds. I was very keen to continue my professional development and wanted to do my Silver Arts Award. My Silver Arts Award experience gave me the confidence to build on my leadership skills; it helped me understand where you can go and teach and how to approach your teaching styles with different ages. It helped me to realise the qualifications that you need and how to find the right places to get the qualifications.

Corali asked me if I could come and support during the Kick Up project as a Support Artist. I led warm ups and cool downs for the Bronze students at Corali. I went along with Corali and talked at a conference on how to lead Arts Awards at Libraries. I watched different dance facilitators teaching in sessions to learn about different teaching techniques and found this very useful. I uploaded my story and journey of my Arts Award on a blog. I passed my Silver Arts Award and was very pleased that my hard work paid off.

What was the most positive thing about taking an Arts Award?

By doing the Arts Award it gave me the confidence to push forward my teaching skills and gain qualifications at the right level.

Do you feel Arts Award has helped you work towards becoming a professional dancer?

I am now getting paid employment from Corali Dance Company and Oval House. I am working on a project called Demonstrate. Demonstrate is a project for all disabilities from 8-14 years old and they receive 1:1 support and they work towards sharings and performances and they are focused on the kids ideas. I am also a Support Artist on Wandsworth Disability Dance Project, which works with two different groups one morning and one afternoon. I have also supported at Youth projects such as Fast Forward and I am also continuing with Corali's Professional Development class and phase two of the Support Artist training.

Where do you see your career in ten years time?

Working more in the dance industry with similar ages that I am working with now, as this is what I enjoy. I would like to increase my hours so I am working part time as a freelance dance Support Artist.

What more can be done to provide creative opportunities for young people with learning disabilities?

I would like more colleges and arts organisations to lead projects that push young people into becoming leaders or Support Artists in dance. There is a lack of training for people with learning disabilities and not many of those people will be able to access University or other training. There is a gap in training. More companies need to take on young people with disabilities to give them work experience and a chance to learn more skills.


Find out more about Corali

Find out more about Silver and Gold Arts Award

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DJ dancing with Corali

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DJ dancing with Corali

Author

Emily Steer

Emily Steer Voice Team

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