Dance, Professional Development, Travel

Reflection of Candoco Dance Company

Wow!  For the last two weeks, I had a great time observing, networking, participating and learning new skills.  I really appreciate to be given the opportunity to do a two week placement with Candoco Dance Company.

Company Classes

DSC_0005The first week, we worked with Pedro Machado for two days to do creative exploration of the exercise that were being given.  It was essential to explore the language of the movement without analysing it.  Interesting lesson and it is a good reminder to take time to do basic contemporary movement with body awareness.

The last three days of the first week, we worked with Adam Murby.  Knowing myself, I have no patience for mindfulness exercises although it was a good reminder for myself to take time out to do yoga in a relaxing way.  When we do the close your eyes exercise, I literally fall asleep, when we are supposed to cleanse our mind and be aware of our body.  Although Adam Murby did a very good job of approaching everyone and asking each person, what needs to be done.  He approached me every morning to tell me what will happen and what he will tell everyone when we do the mindfulness exercise.  He made the effort to ensure everyone was fully accessing his teaching.  That is what I liked about Adam and he tried his best to ensure everyone was able to participate fully.

The second week for four days, we worked with Leila McMillan on floor work which is also known as “Flying Low”.  This is completely new to me as I never worked with “Flying Low” in the contemporary classes back in Brisbane.  Mostly we explore the body movements and lyrical movement.  It was good to learn a new skills set from a different dance instructor as I only worked with one dance instructor for half of the year last year.  This class is the class that I got lots of bruises with, as I kept hitting my elbows and knees on the floor rather than sliding as I should.  I will certainly keep practising the flying lows.   I really enjoy this class.

The company classes varies each week to allow the dancers to learn new skills and to revise their current skills set to prevent them getting narrow focused on particular skill sets.  I like this concept and it makes sense to keep the skill sets open and to expand the existing skill sets.  It is a good thing as this is what happens during the classes at Vulcana Women’s Circus – we never get the same circus trainer for each term we do the class.  Each trainer has their own preference however it prevents me from developing my own preference so I enjoy the wide variety of new skills that being taught.

Observation of the rehearsals

The choreographic processes during the rehearsals were interesting to observe – the way the choreographer gives the dancers the exercise to work with and they are to explore the relationship with the specified movement and the space with/without nuances.  During the rehearsals, it was about physical exploration and contextual research through various contemporary techniques toward an outcome.  He was exploring different types of techniques, scenarios, styles and nuances, for example, how would you response to this particular song? When he did this exercise, I was thinking to myself, how do I response to this song as I am Deaf myself … although interesting to watch him work.

Also the way the dancers response to choreographer’s given exercise really varies amongst the dancer.  All dancers have their own personality and how they response to the exercise with their own ideas of what it means.  Half the exercises that were given, the dancers were able to immerse themselves into imagined scenario and through their own creative thought process, they were able to execute with energy and quality.  While the other half of the exercises, I could sense frustration from some of the dancers as they felt they weren’t given a clear direction of what to do.  Although this is what creative development process is all about.

Overall, I enjoyed watching how both choreographer and the dancers worked together to tap into a diverse range of techniques, mixing a range of movement and influences to form a new contemporary performance.  This has allowed me to think outside of the box for two of my projects that I am currently developing.  I am working with two different choreographer – aerial dance and contemporary/interpretive dance choreographers. I am just a performer and I am looking forward to developing new techniques and movements to create an exciting performance piece.

Youth Class

Such a very diverse dancers within the youth class.  I participated in the “check-in” to introduce ourselves and a movement that mimics a favourite movie.  This is a new game I have learnt and I will teach the other trainers back home.  I observed the class with open minded and trying not to over-analyse the class.

At one point throughout the class, It was quite funny when the teacher decided to go back to basic of contemporary dance and half of the class weren’t impressed.. One of the exercise, was to be buddied into pairs and do basic body movement on their partner through touching one part of the body – for example, hand, one person touch the hand to allow the other person response on the hand in a different way – may it be forced against or moving away.   I remember feeling why do we need to do this type of movement until I understood the need to do basic body movement to allow our body become more aware of our own core and its movement.

This class reminds me of being a trainee trainer as I co-teach the circus workshop to a diverse group of children.  You set the limit to what you can teach and you learn along the way with trial and error.  It was enjoyable watching the youth class and I can take home some ideas from observing the class.


I had an opportunity to network with founder and staff from Candoco Dance Company and other other dance companies such as Diverse City.  I really appreciate for Candoco Dance Company to organise those meetings as they really do benefit as in understanding the long-term sustainability of the company.  The insight of how the company really work, sustaining on a long term basis and understanding the logistics of the company.  I really appreciate the opportunity to meet and network as its give me a fair idea of what I can work with when I return to Brisbane.

Overall experience with Candoco Dance Company

Now reflecting back to the last two weeks, I didn’t have such expectation other than to learn new skills and to observe the creative development process… Now since finding out that Candoco has an ex-dancer whom was a deaf dancer and now a choreographer based in UK, I was bitterly disappointed that I weren’t able to meet her within the two week that I was in London.  I have the chance to meet with her when I return to London in mid-February prior to leaving UK and I look forward to sharing experiences with her.

Prior to arriving in UK, I spent majority of my time searching for deaf artists that are dancers and circus artists, I didn’t have much luck so I wasn’t holding high hope to even meet one when I am in UK.   I tried with few companies prior to contacting Candoco although they weren’t helpful.  I should have made enquiries to Candoco to request to meet few deaf artists in UK and I would have fair idea of what I will be working with. Now I know and in the near future, I will certainly make many enquiries regardless of answers that I was given.

I personally felt that two weeks is not enough although I can’t stay in London forever so it has given me enough to go on and take the knowledge and skills to home to be distributed to others.  Being on this placement has exceeded my expectation as a high quality performance company and I would like to see something similar to happen in Brisbane. It has gave me something to think on and now I am determining which direction to take … weather to start training with a tertiary education or do intensive training to learn many skills in dancing and aerial dancing.  I have a full year to work on my projects and to decide which direction to take.

3 thoughts on “Reflection of Candoco Dance Company”

  1. Hey Racheal! I’m a circus and integrated dancer TOO. I was born without my arm and, though I’m currently in NZ and moving to the UK in April, I’m *desperate* to spend some time at Condoco. Would LOVE to connect with you please! ❤

    1. Hi Deb,
      Certainly we can connect with each other. For some reason, I recall you name and I has to do a search … turned out that I did listen to your presentation at the LFT Program last year in Sydney and really enjoyed your work. I am in the last group of LFT program. 🙂

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