Sharol Mackenzie joined the Centre for Advanced Training programme at Swindon Dance- Exeter Contemporary programme in 2008 when she was 13. During her time on CAT she has worked with artists such as; Merville Jones, Nuno De Campos, Tavaziva ,Helen Gamberg, Russell Maliphant, Maryam Pourian, Glen Wilkinson, Lisa Phillips, Robert Bell and Banxy.
How did you discover the CAT scheme?
Through my secondary school. The scheme came to give a workshop and recommended that some of the students should audition. I was one of them and auditioned successfully.
What had been your experience of dance before the CAT scheme?
I had weekly ballet classes since I was 3 but didn’t really take it seriously. My first taste of contemporary dance was in secondary school with the school dance company.
What has the CAT scheme taught you?
It taught me of the different possibilities there are in dance. The scheme gave me a taste of what dance schools would be like and through working with such a variety of different people gave me a glimpse of how broad contemporary dance is. I think the variety made me a more well rounded dancer. It gave me tools for creativiting and gave opportunity to develop my own artistic voice. Whether that be within a choreographers process or choreographing a piece. It taught me to be disciplined and dedicated.
Where has the scheme led you so far?
Whilst still doing the CAT scheme they informed me of National Youth Dance Company(NYDC), which I auditioned for successfully in 2012. This opportunity, as well as working with many in the industry from the CAT scheme, has given me a large network of people I know and the connections that have been made years ago are still there now. In 2014 I began training at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance and graduated in 2017. Upon graduating I worked on short projects with Richard Chappell Dance, Mark Bruce and Arielle Smith Dance. I then joined Verve (the post-graduate performance company at Northern School of Contemporary Dance) in September 2017. After graduating from Verve in August 2018, I began my career as a freelance dancer. I worked with Mark Bruce Company on some research and development. I then joined Richard Chappell Dance for a UK tour of At the End We Begin in October 2018. In the new year I will be going on tour with the company, performing the same work as well as doing research and development for the companies next piece. In addition to this I will be assisting Richard in creating and new piece for the Exeter CAT Scheme. After the tour ends I will go on to work with Matthew Bournes: New Adventures on the new production of Romeo and Juliet.
What are any of your future aspirations?
I like the variety that comes with Freelancing so I hope to continue to work regularly as a freelance dancer. I would love to work outside of the UK at some point in the near future.
What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in auditioning?
Just go for it even if you’re not sure dancing is for you. It might help you decide, it’s better to have the option.Be open minded and willing to give everything a try you can learn something from everything that you do. For auditions be warm, welcoming and kind to the people you meet. Show that you are willing, interested and curious. They are looking for potential not a finished product.
What impact has the financial support of a Department for Education Grant had on your dancing?
Accessing a grant to train really allowed me to take part in all the opportunities that came my way. Without all the opportunities the CAT scheme gave me, I may not be where I am today.
Photo by Jack Thomson.