Molly, a recent Queens graduate, is completing an internship with TheatreNI, and kindly answered our questions regarding what motivated her to work in the arts sector and how she plans to create her own dance studio in the future.
What did you study for your undergraduate degree?
I attained a First-Class Degree in Dance Practices at Liverpool John Moores University. The course centred around contemporary dance however we often had guest artists coming in also to teach styles such as jazz, hip-hop, vogue and ballet. I feel the whole experience shaped me into a versatile dancer. Through doing that course also, I had numerous opportunities to choreograph works and was lucky enough to have my work selected and performed at LightNight; Liverpool’s major art festival that shines a spotlight on the city and celebrates world class cultural offerings.
What made you want to apply for a Masters in Arts Management in Belfast?
After finishing my degree, I took a year out predominantly performing and teaching but didn’t really know what I wanted to do. The Arts Management Masters just seemed like the perfect choice as I am not naive and realise that in this industry your body will not last you forever therefore I knew I needed something that could give me the skills that will leave me prepared for the future.
And then I’ve always loved Belfast. I travelled here a lot during my year out because I had friends here from university. After deciding I wanted to do a Masters, I noticed Queens offered the Arts Management course. I had always heard how Queens was such a great academic establishment to study within and I was not wrong. I’ve loved every minute of teaching and studying in Belfast and hope to stay here for many more years!
What made you want to complete an internship with TheatreNI?
Because I’m so involved in dance, I knew I wanted to experience a different side of the sector. I feel like in this industry today you can’t just be one-sided and only be educated within one art form – you must know and appreciate other art forms in order to get anywhere successfully. I’ve always loved drama from studying it at GCSE level however my pathway led me into dance, so it is so nice to be back engaging with the theatre sector.
How would you describe the creative opportunities available in Northern Ireland?
I think there is a lot, but you must know where to look. If I had just moved here and not done my degree, I believe it would have been a lot harder for me. My degree gave me contacts and opportunities. I was put on a fantastic placement with Dance Resource Base which lead me seamlessly into working with TheatreNI. I think here in Northern Ireland, in comparison to Birmingham and Liverpool where I have also lived and worked, it’s very much about who you know in the sector and who you have already worked with. This makes sense to a certain extent as that way you already have an idea of the teaching quality and if the individual is right for the job however it can take away an opportunity for an equally deserving individual. Saying that, I do feel like I’ve had loads of opportunities to teach since moving here. I have taught in numerous primary schools and dance schools in and around Belfast, so the work is out there if you are willing to put your all into making yourself a success.
What have you learned through your time at TheatreNI?
Being with TheatreNI has taught me how different it is to physically put learnt skills into practice. Things are constantly changing within this whirlwind sector we find ourselves in – you must be willing to roll with the punches and go with the flow to make your event/organisation a successful one, rather than be stuck in your own set ways of working and what you envision.
TheatreNI has also taught me so much about my own discipline, dance, as well as theirs. I have learnt how important it is to continue your own personal development not only to better yourself but to better the quality of work I am offering to my students.
What are your ambitions for the future?
Within the near future I would love to have my own dance company/school. I am so passionate about teaching and educating other people in the beautiful artform that I have found myself within. Dance offers so much to society and can impact an individual’s life in so many ways and I want to share that with as many people as I can. Our bodies thrive of movement and we can learn so much about ourselves through dance.
What are the first steps you are going to take in the creation of your own dance business?
Since moving to Belfast, I’ve already taken my first steps through teaching for both dance and primary schools. Having finished my Masters now, I’m starting to write up a business plan of how I’m going to go about starting my own school such as; how I’m going to find a studio, where I’m going to base the business, class schedules etc. I’m also seeking financial advice to set myself up in the best way possible and using the supportive team at TheatreNI to guide me in the right direction.
What motivates you to be your own business leader?
I want to be my own business leader because I know how I want my business to look. Being a dancer myself, I am aware of how hard it can be both mentally and physically and I want to create an environment where those I teach don’t feel tremendous pressure and enjoy coming to my lessons. I myself suffer with anxiety and extremely low self-esteem. I feel this stems from the constant pressures I put on myself as a young dancer to be the best version of myself every class and to look a certain way. I was always conscious of my weight in comparison to other dancers around me and my appearance for years; never feeling confident in my own skin. I would never want the adults or the children that I teach to feel any other way than happy within my business environment. I want to give a positive dance experience to everyone.
What do you think makes a good facilitator/ teacher of dance?
Hard work beats talent if talent isn’t prepared to work hard. You must be willing to give everything you have in order to get the best out of yourself and your students. I think it is also important to be versatile. I myself have trained in numerous different styles over the years and am constantly looking to expand my offering as a freelance artist. I also trained in Dance for Parkinson’s and dance for individuals with an array of special needs. I was lucky enough to be accepted into the dance company JMUp IN(tegrated) which is a project-based learning community of practice in which we as dancers went out into a specialist sports college and taught dance alongside the students. Learning these skills meant that within my practice nobody can be ruled out and everyone is provided with an equal opportunity.
What do you think the future of dance and theatre in Northern Ireland looks like?
The future of dance and theatre in Northern Ireland can be whatever we want it to be. I know so many people in Northern Ireland who love and support theatre, dance and the arts so the future must be a positive one – if we make it!