Hi Anna. Great to hear from you since you completed your Gold Arts Award. What would you say are the highlights of your career to date?
I recently graduated from the BA (Hons) Dance Performance and Teaching degree at UCLan with a first-class degree, where I also completed my Gold Arts Award. I am in the initialising stages of my career in which I have already begun to explore my interests within the dance field.
I am particularly interested in choreography, community, and education within dance. I have been given opportunities to share pieces of work at events such as Wigan Arts Festival, Big Up North, Originate and Blaze Arts Festival. I am proud to have my pieces chosen to be presented at the showcases and honored for the continued support and dedication to the dancers involved. The performance events gave a chance to explore new settings and environments to perform the pieces in whilst gaining new connections within the profession. I have been volunteering for different companies and events for the past few years which I have enjoyed and gained so much knowledge from. This year, I was recognised by gaining the UCLan Student Volunteer of the Year award and the Lancashire Arts Festival Performance Award. One of the companies I've volunteered for is inclusive dance company Dance Syndrome who I performed at the Edinburgh Fringe with this summer.
How did you end up taking a show to the Fringe Festival? What were the challenges involved?
I have been a volunteer for DanceSyndrome for two years in which I participate and support the lead dance artist and participants. I originally became aware of DanceSyndrome when I began studying at UCLan, I saw one of their performances and was keen to be involved. I met with the Managing Director, Dawn, and began volunteering. I also used DanceSyndrome within my Gold Arts Award portfolio.
Dance Syndrome performed at the Edinburgh Fringe last year, however, I was working aboard so could not perform with them, although I was able to join this year! DanceSyndrome created the piece ‘Lit aDrift’ which explores one man’s path as he uses light to guide himself to destinations of reflection and connection. We performed at Surgeon’s Hall for three performances and gained a large audience. We also had a performance slot on the Mercat Stage on the Royal Mile which was an incredible experience! The rehearsal process was a busy time but worth it. It gave all the performers the confidence to perform to large audiences in a new setting. The overall experience was inspirational, I would love to perform there again or take a piece of work of my own.
In what ways do you think your Gold Arts Award has helped you in your career?
Gold Arts Award has allowed me to experience aspects of my potential career that I didn’t consider before. During my Arts Award, I co-managed and planned a dance event where I became the stage manager, previously hadn’t thought of going into this field. Now I'm heavily interested in being more involved with the backstage crew. Gold Arts award has supported me to have confidence in myself, this came from having the responsibility of the events I co-delivered. I am now able to see my strengths when working on a project and can identify areas for improvement and actively seek ways to progress.
What do you love about your job?
The people! I thoroughly enjoy working with and meeting people. Especially when you are all invested in the same upcoming project.
I take pride in seeing development and growth within the people I work with ranging from young children to adults.
You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 14-year-old you. What do you say?
Be confident, go for it and speak out.
Do you have any advice for other young people interested in a career in dance?
Go for it. Reach out to people and take part and volunteer as much as you can to gain an insight into what is out there within your interests.
Where can people find out more about you?
On my social media pages:
Facebook Anna James-Dance
And what has Anna been up to between September 2018 and February 2019?
Lots!! AJDance Company is taking off and they've been delivering dance workshops as part of schools’ curricular and for extra-curricular classes. They've also been creating performances pieces that have been selected for events such as Innovations Dance Platform in Chester and Big Up North in Lancaster.
AJDance Company have also been awarded the Propeller Enterprise Award to fund the community dance project 'Small is beautiful'.
Anna continues working for companies such as Blue Moose Dance Company and Dance Syndrome, delivering inclusive workshops within schools and communities, and with Burnley Youth Theatre delivering dance workshops which she says is "a creative and engaging environment".
In addition she is working for North West Dance at The Lowry as one of their Youth Dance Intern’s; co-planning, managing and delivering UDanceNW 2019.
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