I was invited by Artistic Director, Polly Crockett-Robertson to join 3rd Stage Dance Company two years ago. 3rd Stage is a company designed for trained and professional dancers wanting/needing to return to dance or performing. Some members may have had a break from dance because of family commitments, a different career choice or some may teach dance but don’t have the opportunity to perform as often. The company is filled with a wealth of experience and it is delightful to be surrounded by other dancers on the same wavelength in a supportive and entertaining environment. Many company members have a busy teaching timetable and it is uplifting to have the opportunity to perform with these amazing dancers and to be inspired with new ideas.
3rd Stage Dance Company are performing in a couple of weeks in Bath and Bristol on 24th (The Edge Building,ICIA, Bath) and 25th (Arnolfini, Bristol) June and will be presenting a brand new work, Mementos. As part of the project, 3rd Stage have collaborated with the well known Bower Brothers who have created an atmospheric score for the piece. Mementos addresses the theme of death and how different cultures react to loss. For some there can be deep mourning but for others there are a set of rituals practiced and a celebration for the life lost.
I recently caught up with Polly to discuss 3rd Stage Dance Company and about the performance of Mementos in June…
Hannily: Tell us more about your tag line ‘we keep dancers dancing’ and the importance of it to 3rd Stage Dance Company.
Polly: 3rd Stage Dance Company look to identify and remove systematic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion, giving dancers the time, space and support to learn to love dance again. It began in 2008 originally providing opportunities for former professional dancers to return to the stage after time away. This soon evolved providing further opportunities in class, in the studio, in choreography and teaching. The key to 3rd Stage’s reputation is its understanding of a dancer’s identity. We understand how difficult it can be for a dancer to return to the studio, but how important it can be to tap in to this ‘healing process’. By providing a supportive environment, community and structure the returning dancer can begin to manage over-whelming feelings and thoughts and re-connect with forgotten inner resources e.g. technique, experience, knowledge, creative ideas. Connecting with others who love to dance, inspires the returning dancer, fosters the development of trusting relationships and tests the relationship between the inner voice (“I can’t dance”) with the outer reality (“I am dancing”). We are proud to say “we keep dancers dancing”.
Hannily: You mention on your website that for professional dancers returning to dance after a long time, it can be difficult and the healing process can be a painful experience. Can you explain this further?
Polly: Not dancing, for the professional dancer, is a shift in lifestyle, identity, habit and programming. A professional dancer lives and breathes dance; they walk as dancers, talk as dancers and present themselves as a dancer to everyone in their life. But, sometimes life presents itself in ways we cannot control and interrupts this programming. Injury, age, money, health, family……., the list of reasons for stopping dancing is long. Dancers often have to make very difficult decisions to stop dancing and start re-building their lives in a different ways. However, try as one might, the identity of a dancer remains in the blood, no matter what life they may be leading. Re-visiting this identity is a brave journey, often a difficult one. Any period of not dancing means a reduction in flexibility and strength. The dancer relies so much on this physical ability. This stage of thinking that the body is ‘no longer good enough’ can profoundly undermine self-identity and social inclusion causing a bereavement for who the dancer was.
Hannily: What is Momentos about and why were you attracted to the project and theme?
Polly: Momentos is a project that started two years ago, thanks to working with Kerry Biggin who choreographed a piece for us called ‘The Parting’. The piece explored the concept of ‘loss’ and how we respond when we have lost something or someone. Over the months the project grew and branched into different areas. We have had the enjoyment of working with many different groups of people taking the concept further and providing community participants with the creative tools to explore loss and what matters in life, what we would like to be remembered for, what we remember others for and what we celebrate about individual lives and each contribute. Intergenerational dance workshops came alive, with participants from age 9-90, and beautiful pieces of dance were performed. Mementos – meaning ‘remember that you will die’ – has been an extraordinary project. This lead us to Mementos – The Journey. It is 3rd Stage Dance Performance Company’s opportunity to explore the subject further. The dancers explore how different cultures process losing those close to them, and how death features as a key chapter in one’s life. It is visually gripping and takes us through from the dark to the light. Exploring a subject that is often considered taboo. It is a performance not to be missed!
3rd Stage Dance Company are performing Friday 24th and Saturday 25th June.
To book tickets: http://3rdstagedance.com/mementos/
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