Reece McMahon joined the Centre for Advanced Training programme at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2010. During his time on CAT he has worked with artists such as; Phoenix Dance Theatre, Retina Dance Company, Gary Clarke, Candoco Dance Company.
How did you discover the CAT scheme?
I found out about the CAT scheme via my secondary school. I had just really started to explore what contemporary dance was and my dance teacher encouraged me to apply. It was probably the best decision I ever took!
What had been your experience of dance before the CAT scheme?
I started dancing at the age of 7, originally training in Ballroom and Latin American where I competed for the UK for just under 10 years. During this time, I also started to perform in musical theatre and drama productions. I didn’t really know what contemporary dance was until I started secondary school!
What has the CAT scheme taught you?
The CAT scheme was a fantastic platform for me to refine my passion of moving, creating and performing. The exposure that we had to nationally and internationally renowned artists was amazing and really aided in my understanding of many forms of dance, not just contemporary. The amount of knowledge and support we were provided with was unparalleled. Looking back, it was probably the main reason that led me to study contemporary dance at degree level.
Where has the scheme led you so far?
The scheme initially led me to study Performing Arts at CAPA College, Wakefield. From, here, I chose to study a BA Hons in Contemporary Dance at London Contemporary Dance School (The Place, where I graduated with a First in 2017. During my studies, I was further opened up to the diverse array of opportunities that the creative, arts and dance sector provides. I quickly discovered that I had an appetite and the necessary skills to use my training for something other than performing. After graduating, I started working at The Place as a Communications Assistant and then a Projects and Touring Assistant. This led me in to working with Avant Garde Dance Company on their hit show Fagins Twist as well as working for them as a Project Manager on various other projects. I was also introduced to wonderful the world of outdoor arts when I worked with Outdoor Arts UK on their huge bi-annual outdoor arts festival. This all eventually led me back to The Place where I am now working as the Assistant Producer.
What are any of your future aspirations?
I hope to continue working in producing and arts management across the dance and theatre sectors. I am excited to work with incredible artists and create work that will inspire the next generation of young people. I remember seeing some amazing performances with the CAT scheme and I hope that the next generation of CAT students can be as inspired as I was when they see work. Even if you are inspired by the costumes, set, lighting, choreography or one particular performer, these are all important moments!
What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in auditioning?
Do it, It was the best decision I ever made. I was actually ill on the day of my audition and therefore thought I had lost out on the opportunity. Luckily there was another opportunity to audition, I cannot tell you how relieved I was! You will meet people that you will remain friends with and work alongside for the rest of your career. It was only the other day where I was in the same room as one of my fellow CAT alumni as she was auditioning for a project that I was working on! It was fantastic seeing her and how far she had come also.
What impact has the financial support of a Department for Education Grant had on your dancing?
I would not have been able to attend CAT without the financial support DfE gave. It’s incredibly important that these pots of money exist as they break down barriers and enable everybody to partake in excellent training.
Finally is there anything else you would like to add?
The CAT scheme was fundamental in my journey. I would not have been able to attend if it wasn’t for the amazing financial support I received from the scheme. Furthermore, the current Weston Jerwood Bursary I am on is designed for young people who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. If it wasn’t for these opportunities, I would not have achieved anything I have so far. If you have the passion and the desire to achieve something, your upbringing, gender or race should to be a barrier to this.
Photo Credit: Richard Parr