Megan Kingdom Davies blogs about her time at Dance in Devon as a University Intern (April-August 2014).
Since my placement with Dance in Devon in April, I have had time to reflect on my jam-packed three weeks. I have been thinking about the great value of these experiences before beginning my career in the arts.
Prior to starting my placement, I really wanted to cement the endless amounts of theory from my lectures into real practice. I was asked to help run arts wave devon POP-Up events over the Easter period and summer period, and this is where I really began to learn. It was the experiences of when things don’t go to plan that you can never create in a lecture theatre with a textbook. This was invaluable to me. I realised that you have to be prepare for the unexpected. Things go missing, people are late and it almost always rains! The main thing I have taken away from my work is that adapting to different situations and different people can really make a difference when facing a challenge or solving a problem.
Running POP-Up events wasn’t the only new experience I was involved with. My placement was very varied including attending meetings, site visits, marketing, helping to run dance workshops and attending performances. I really got a feel for the day to day running of the organisation, and all the parts that make a whole. An essential part of building my career as a manager in the arts sector is networking and making strong contacts. My work with Dance in Devon allows me to gain experiences through working practically whilst building a strong network of people- the experience I have been offered has been so valuable.
I was lucky enough to be asked to be on the panel of the Creative Conversation at The Plough in Great Torrington, to offer my opinion on Youth Dance in the county. As a young person totally passionate about Dance when growing up in Devon, I felt honoured to be given the chance to talk about this with other artists, teachers and students and share my experience.
Dance has given me a sense of belonging in Devon, as I spent almost all of my childhood attending regular dance classes. The network and strong friendships remains one of the most important things to evolve out of my dance training. As I lived in a fairly rural part of Mid Devon, dance offered me a connection to people once or twice a week outside of school, which kept me focussed and given me a sense of independence. I went on to train in dance at Exeter College, which gave me endless opportunities, including being involved in shows, festivals and competitions and working with very talented dancers. On reflection, it was these opportunities that impacted on where I am now.
I am currently at University away from Devon studying arts management, but dance is still very much a part of my life. I use dance classes as a way to keep fit, socialise and keep me motivated. Dance has got me hooked because it’s so universal. It can take so many forms- it can be fun, energetic and easy to watch, it can also be moving, inspiring and totally capturing. I’m sure everyone, everywhere has had a connection with dance at some stage?
One of the questions I have been discussing with Dance in Devon is whether or not Devon needs more opportunities for youth dance. I would say yes, but that we should encourage advocacy and participation in what currently exists first. From my experience, Devon is packed with a variety of classes, workshops and master classes, however if the demand isn’t there for new and different dance forms then it won’t develop. So I say – Go to classes, spread the word, and be vocal about what’s wanted and needed.
I have now come to the end of my Placement with Dance in Devon- it has been jam-packed with a huge variety of different work. It has been a wonderful experience to be fully immersed.