Natifah White is a third year student studying BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance at London Contemporary Dance School. As she heads into her final year, she reflects on her experience so far…
Why did you choose London Contemporary dance School for your BA?
I chose LCDS because I was really interested in the variety and the options that the school offered. In terms of technique, I was very interested in learning about Cunningham and Flying Low, but also release and floor work – there are so many interesting techniques that we do.
What advice would you give to future potential students?
Be ready and open to challenge what you already know and develop it further. There are so many options and opportunities here that test and challenge you. Be open to the possibility that it may change or develop; it may form you as a better dancer, a better artist, a better person in general. That’s what I think is the most interesting – yes, you are at a dance school but also you are developing yourself as a person and an individual.
What was unexpected or surprising about studying at LCDS?
I discovered the feminist society; a very interesting group of students who come together every week to discuss feminist or gender topics. Also, Critical Studies was a really interesting lesson in first year. I learned a lot about philosophy – Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud – that I was very surprised by. I actually enjoyed it!
Do you need previous experience to study at LCDS?
I first started out in contemporary dance when I did a CAT [Centre of Advanced Training] programme back at home in Nottingham, and that was the only contemporary training I was exposed to, so I was very much open to what the school could offer in terms of intensity and different levels. I am not from a balletic background so it was nice that we were able to start off at a level where we could train and develop the technique together. I did train in other styles such as hip-hop and house, which have influenced the way I present myself here at the school. It was very nice that the school was able to allow us all to start and develop together, especially coming here without much technique experience.
What kind of support is offered and how has that helped you studying?
Support at the school is very good. I have a lot of financial assistance which I’m very grateful for. The school provides automatic bursaries and also bursaries that you can apply for such as The Fund for Excellence. In terms of wellbeing, there are counselling options which a lot of students, including myself, utilise. It was very helpful for me. There’s also academic support, help for dyslexia and dyspraxia, and a lot of other options and opportunities to help you be the best you can be, which I think is really important.
What is the most challenging part of studying at LCDS?
For me the most challenging part of the course is being decisive when it comes to picking options. When you transition from first year to second year, the options are so vast that it is hard to pick! Being decisive is very important in terms of what do you want to explore more, especially when it is about independence and finding your own interests. Even if you already know something, you have to ask yourself how you can develop your knowledge or understanding of a certain subject.
What is your favourite part of the course?
There are a lot of performance opportunities, or if you are more interested in improvisation, there’s a partner-work devised project you can do which is very interesting. It’s going beyond just improvising, exploring how you devise or how you choreograph authentically, which I think is really nice.
Students at London Contemporary Dance School study a three-year undergraduate programme leading to a BA (Hons) in Contemporary Dance. The programme is highly intensive, with studio-based work at its centre, enhanced by a range of contextual studies that directly relate to the experience of performing, making, researching and understanding dance.
The programme offers the flexibility to specialise in performance or choreography, or to develop expertise in both fields. Students learn a broad base of skills, supported by a range of movement practices and have valuable performance and creative opportunities throughout the programme.
As they complete their degree and begin to explore their next steps in dance, students are supported as they graduate into professional employment, independent practice or postgraduate study. The BA (Hons) Contemporary Dance degree is validated by the University of Kent.
For information on LCDS visit www.lcds.ac.uk