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  • Charlie Ranken

4. [reclaiming my artistic health]

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

When I was training at Chichester University in dance, I remember discussions about the life of a dancer being short. A bit like a footballer. These conversations or thoughts might have been between the dancers themselves or through the lens of the industry at the time (2003-2006) but it has always stayed with me. Because of this, sixteen years later, I can feel past it but I don't want to give up. I fight constantly against my own inner ingrained culture and that which follows me around.

When I applied to be part of the Alleyne Dance Artistic Development Programme before Christmas 2021, I did so as another act of reclaiming my artistic health. I did the same thing when applying for the Dance and Physical Theatre Post Graduate at Royal Holloway with Jasmin Vardimon in 2010 and when I finished my Masters in Contemporary Performance Practices in 2019. I also did the same thing when I became an Elf on the Train to Christmas Town. Yes, it's true. I'm not joking.

Over the past 4 months, I have been using the studio space at the Barbican Theatre every Monday between work to follow an online Alleyne Dance Class. I have also had the pleasure of meeting Kristina or Sadé over zoom through 1:1 tutorials. I cannot get over how wonderful this programme is for a parent. The online sessions mean I can fit them into my routine whilst still receiving professional training and having time to digest them and revisit ideas. When you are working and caring for a family, swapping roles from one to another throughout the day, the pressure of learning new skills and playing with new perspectives, within a tight timeframe, can tend to not embed. Even in a physical workshop, the physicality would be stretched across a number of hours maybe days and I would immediately be accessing my short term memory to cement phrases in. The longevity of online classes, has enabled my movement memory to start changing shape, adding to my vocabulary and enjoying a new sense of movement*.

The 1:1's have been eye opening and quite emotional. To be honest, the emotional bit took me by surprise. Kristina or Sadé have the ability to navigate a conversation, filter out the unnecessary and focus in on the essence. They are strong, gentle and empowering people and I have found each hour liberating, productive and encouraging. They are already on your side from the get go and they really want to help, support, uplift and build up those around them. For me, both Kristina or Sadé have helped me filter and polish my direction, making sure I am at the helm of my creative decisions and where I want to invest so I can move forwards confidently, knowing I have something to offer the world.

Here are some of the impacts of the artistic programme:

  • Created a new website that is clear about what I can offer from 1:1 discussions

  • Prioritise work and filter, enable Movement Direction to come to the forefront

  • Push into my practice of Kinespheric Movement daily and deliver this to support the awareness of the human body and how we interact with the world as ourselves, as dancers, as actors.

I will finish with a link of a rehearsal clip from an online class and the link to the Alleyne Dance Mentorship Programme. If you are looking for some artistic input, Alleyne Dance has a range of different professional threads you can look through. Alternatively, check out my website. Always happy to chat especially if you are reclaiming your artistic health.

* I would also suggest this type of professional training would support someone with additional needs or different learning styles. I have phonetic skills disorder which plays into how I process information and language. The benefits of online sessions which I stated also worked for the way I am mechanically connected as well as my lifestyle.

Selfie at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth

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