FEATURE: Get Into…Dance | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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All images are Kate Jackson in The Sense of an Ending captured by Chantal Guevara, created by Nadia Iftkhar

Our newest feature in the magazine, welcomes a monthly guide on how to find a new cultural passion, and get yourself lost in a new world. We talk to experts across various fields, to break the walls down for the favourite art-forms and welcome in some new fans. This month, it’s Nadia Iftkhar of Company of Others, talking us through the world of dance. Over to you Nadia…

I’m Nadia, an artist, lover of movement, leader, dancer, organiser, choreographer, woman, collaborator and Artistic Director of North East based Company of Others.

I have been delivering dance workshops, classes and performances across the North for over 15 years and have been lucky that my work has taken me to the furthest and most interesting areas of the world.

Company of Others creates work with people in our communities that tells their stories, the way they want them to be told. We do this in a range of ways including Company of Others II – a performance company of dancers over the age of 65 and we collaborate together to create meaningful conversation about age. We lead Walker Youth Dance Project at Walker Technology College (also my old school) and we make work that comes from the challenges and joys that young people want to share with audiences.

I didn’t see any of this coming when I started Disco classes at Allendale Community Centre for 20p per class in 1986. So, I know all too well there are many ways to get into dance and it can lead you on the most brilliant adventures as a performer, choreographer, audience member or enthusiast.

It’s all about finding your thing. Like many art forms, there will be some dance you love and some you hate, it’s all a matter of taste so the best thing to do is try a variety of styles before you decide it’s not for you.

For me, movement is the most honest form of expression. We use our whole being to tell audiences stories that can be so beautiful, joyful or traumatic that there are just no words that could adequately express the same meaning. We can share the unspeakable and create understanding of our very different human experiences – true connection.

There are many ways to get into dance as a participant, Dance City has classes in a variety of styles for all ages, I teach the Contemporary Performance Group there for anyone over 16 who is interested in performing, it’s a great class with a real sense of community and you can come along if you’ve never danced before and feel very welcome.

If you’re over 55 you could come along to Company of Others II, we train every Monday and love having new members join us; more details can be found on our website. Our dancers feel energised and more alive since joining the company and we have great fun.

As an audience member, watching movement live is the very best way to experience it and the North East has some great shows coming up. I love the magical productions that balletLORENT create, they’re currently working on a new Rumplestiltskin which will premiere late October in Newcastle.

For some stunning Indian Classical Dance with live music, GemArts are bringing Kadam Pulse to Sunderland Minster on Friday 12th May. This is a great opportunity to see a style that rarely visits the North East in a beautiful setting.

Platforms like the recent Northern Platforms at Dance City, which featured work by North East artists Peter Groom and Alice Henry are perfect if you’re new to dance because the works are short and generally programmed to give audiences an eclectic mix.

It’s not always possible to make it to a live performance, thankfully there are some interesting websites that feature movement for camera such as nowness.com and tendu.tv, which has a great catalogue of filmed performances and dance films.

The choreographer I (and many other artists) adore is Pina Bausch, she was Artistic Director of Tanztheater Wuppertal for over 30 years and was known for blending movement, sound, text and set design to create powerful and emotive experiences. Pina is a film directed by Wim Wenders which features some of her most incredible work and interviews with the dancers who performed it. It’s a work of art in itself but also gives great insight to her working methods and artistic life.

The most important thing to remember when getting into dance is that there are no right or wrong ways to do it, just give it a go and enjoy the journey. If I can help in any way drop me an email nadia@companyofothers.org.uk and sign up to the Company of Others newsletter to keep up to date with our performances and dance opportunities.

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