Recently re-locating to larger, private grounds, professional touring dance company, Company Chameleon aim to continually develop through not only their professional practice through national and international tours, but introduce dance to a new up and coming area in Manchester and get local communities involved with their work. Having done my under-graduate degree in theatre dance at London Studio Centre and previously working professionally as a dancer, being given the opportunity to see how everything works from a different perspective has been extremely interesting and useful for my career development.
During my time at the placement, Company Chameleon were launching their first ever ‘Saturday Sessions’, opening up their doors and expertise to the local community by providing creative dance classes to 8-16 year olds in the local area and the rest of Greater Manchester.
My first few weeks involved extensive work on not only researching the local community and possible target audiences to engage in the sessions, but on marketing the sessions, ensuring large numbers of people were reached out to, whether this was providing leaflets locally, or visiting numerous local community organisations to gain partnerships and their audiences whom may not be aware of the company’s arrival. After witnessing the vast success of this marketing with numbers seven times higher than anticipated, it was extremely rewarding to see how the hard work of the company had paid off, knowing I had participated.
On-going tasks set to me included documentation of their dance and mental health projects where they had worked closely with a PHD researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University and local schools. Here I gained further knowledge in transcribing interviews, data collection and gained an insight on what other projects they are holding in schools to benefit the younger generation.
The last few weeks spent with Chameleon were where I felt I gained the most professional experience. After the company learned about my background in dance, they wanted to use my knowledge of the movement and creation to produce a write up of their educational dance workshop archives. This was the first time the company had produced any documentation of this type and ensuring it was of a high standard was imperative not only for the company use when providing the workshops, but as a marketing tool to ‘sell’ the workshops to schools. The archives consisted of in-depth descriptions of their previous repertoire, the creative process to produce the choreography and possible educational tasks to use within the workshops – whether these be physical creative tasks or essay questions regarding the repertoire in hand. Being one of the three people producing these archives meant I was able to output them into my professional portfolio in regards to learning and participation and marketing experience.
Overall I had an excellent 4 months spent with Company Chameleon. Being part of an intimate, caring and extremely passionate team was an experience I will hold close. I look forward to seeing how the company grows in its new community and seeing how my experienced gained with them will develop in the future.
Paige Langley-Shaw is a MA student in Arts Management, Policy and Practice.