ENBYouthCo: Kinetic Echo

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As ENBYouthCo carry out their final rehearsals for their new piece Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Voices, choreographed by Cameron McMillan, we caught up with dancer Emma Farnell-Watson, to talk about what being in English National Ballet’s Youth Company means to her…

Go to photo Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. © Photography by ASH

Emma told us why being part of a youth company appealed to her;

I was preparing for auditioning at vocational school so I thought ENBYouthCo would be a great opportunity to gain experience and develop further as both an artist and a performer.

And did ENBYouthCo stand out from other potential options?
I knew it would provide me with the insight into the workings of a company. Joining a youth company within a professional dance organisation was a vastly different experience to anything I’d had before. It was incredible to be passing by principals of ENB on the way to the studio.

Does this professional environment extend into your work within the youth company?
Yes the professional atmosphere carries through into class too and it really gave us an idea of what company life would be like. We often had chances to see the professional company, watching dress runs at the London Coliseum and even performing alongside them in Petrushka. Having the youth company under the name of ENB gave us a big responsibility; we are representing the company whilst performing, and were proud to have this opportunity.

And you are now an alumni member of the company; having moved on to vocational training in the last year. Did ENBYouthCo help you decide what your next steps would be?
Being a member of the youth company confirmed that a career as a performer was definitely what I wanted. The regular rehearsals and variety of performances gave me a taste of the career as a performer that I’d love to have. We were given so much help and advice about vocational school auditions and support through this time of uncertainty and of course audition nerves. I was very grateful for the guidance as it made clearer my options and pathways.

Have you enjoyed this opportunity to come back and work on a creative process like Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves, as an alumni ENBYouthCo dancer?
It feels very different! I didn’t realise how much I’d changed until I came back to the youth company. It’s great to transfer and apply the skills I’ve learnt at vocational training into a different environment. Having been in vocational training I was able to see the process in a more open and experienced perspective, applying my new knowledge and understanding, which I only realised I had gained since returning to the youth company

I have also gained an understanding of how important it is for you to take responsibility and ownership of your place within the piece. I found I had far more confidence, being able to just throw myself into things, take risks and challenge what I was doing and the way I was thinking.

Go to set Kinetic Echo - Our Dancing Selves in Rehearsal

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

  • ENBYouthCo in rehearsal for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves choreographed by Cameron McMillan. Photo: © Photography by ASH

What are you enjoying most about being a part of the creative process for Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves?
So many thanks! This project with Cameron McMillan has definitely been a highlight of my time with ENBYouthCo; perhaps because we were able to have so much time working with him, allowing us to really delve into the concept. Having more time for the process meant that we could each find ourselves in the work, and really explore what the piece meant to us.

Cameron has created such great atmosphere in the studio, encouraging us to use it as a safe place to take risks, fall over and look silly! He’s supported us through the challenges and just experiencing the way he works during the creation process has been so inspiring. I feel very fortunate to have been able to receive such rich knowledge from someone with so much experience.

With the concept of self and place and the idea of identity being so relevant to us as artists I have really enjoyed exploring it and having discussions as a company. It has brought up some very interesting questions and made me think more about how the digital age affects and influences me as an artist.

Do you have any special insights you could provide the readers into the choreography of Kinetic Echo?
We have played a lot with the idea of tumbling, a concept drawn from the constant over flowing of information on social networking sites. Watch out for sections of constant falling, tumbling and over flowing.

We also played with the idea of initiation and echo. What is the reaction of one post on Facebook or a picture on Instagram? What happens next; what is the echo that subsequently follows? We played with this in many areas of the piece. You can watch out especially for how this happens in our bodies. As we initiate from our hip, what is the echo in the rest of our bodies?

What should the audience expect to see from you as a dancer in this piece?
They should expect to be questioned, challenged and consider their place in the world we as a company create on stage.

Any last comments?
It has been a real pleasure to come back to the company and see how it has evolved and changed. I have loved working and collaborating with new people, it’s been very inspiring!

You can see Emma and the rest of ENBYouthCo performing the site-specific piece Kinetic Echo – Our Dancing Selves, live in the North Atrium at Westfield London (W12) on Saturday 12 July in the North Atrium at 2pm and 5pm.

Kinetic Echo is co-commissioned by English National Ballet and the Foundation for Community Dance for the Big Dance Weekend 2014 and Westfield Presents.