Name of CAT: Swindon Dance (Exeter)
Student Name: Willa Faulkner
Willa joined the Centre for Advanced Training programme at Swindon Dance in 2014 when she was 17. During her time on CAT she worked with artists such as Theo Clinkard and Ben Dunks.
How did you discover the CAT scheme?
My teachers at Exeter College Catherine Lee and Emma Wyke, who encouraged me to audition.
What had been your experience of dance before the CAT scheme?
Prior to dancing in the CAT scheme I had studied GCSE Dance, AS Level dance and had done various contemporary dance clubs. I didn’t have much experience of Ballet or specific contemporary techniques.
What has the CAT scheme taught you?
The CAT scheme introduced me to how it felt to train and dance with high intensity and integrity. Prior to CAT I didn’t know about dance schools and what was possible. CAT prepared me physically and psychologically to audition. I was introduced to new techniques and encouraged me to trust in my individuality. I learnt how to take care of my body and build awareness about my own anatomy and how to use it in the context of dance, and do all this safely. Through CAT I became more self-aware on how I work and was given personal feedback and guidance. I learnt how to give feedback to friends and try out new choreographic ideas within a supportive environment. Within this one year I developed as a dancer and was able to see the path that I wanted to take.
Where has the scheme led you so far (please give details of further training and work you have/are doing)?
I went to study Contemporary Dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, graduating with a First and the Marion North Award for ‘outstanding achievement in performance’. I then attended a Contemporary Dance course at Performact in Portugal for one year.
I am in two co-founded collectives Not Yet, based mostly in France and Mass Hysteria, based in Berlin and London. We collectively make performative work and explore creative ideas together.
I spend time teaching and facilitating dance to different community groups, within schools and in classes that I independently run.
I practice contact improvisation and take part as a dancer/performer in people’s projects as a freelance dancer and performer.
Dancing has made it possible for me to travel and make many friends across Europe.
What are any of your future aspirations?
I would like to be able to financially support myself through my dance practice as an artist and as a facilitator. I would like my dance collectives; Mass Hysteria and Not Yet, to thrive. I would like to continue to work collaboratively with others and to make new ‘works’ and collaborations. The foundations of my dance are based on sensitivity, playfulness, curiosity and making connections, I would like to continue with this and hopefully make a positive difference to people’s lives.
What advice would you give to a young person who is interested in auditioning?
Try to enjoy it as much as possible! Treat it like a workshop and just be curious and go for it! The teachers want you to succeed and to support your passion to dance… Breathe, take your time and smiling helps!