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Participate - Issue 4

Jack Robinson Reflects on his career

My first memory of Cheshire Dance was being in a school PE session with my trackies and cap on when this stranger walked into the sports hall. This was the early 00's and it was my first dance class with a Cheshire Dance Freelance artist. I didn't know what to expect, and I never expected to make it my life. I was always into hip-hop culture and music but as I became immersed in the vibrant, fun Cheshire Dance atmosphere, movement immediately became my passion and I never looked back. I remember a class mate exclaiming “I need to soak my bones” at the end of the session, yet we were so full of energy.....from that day we became great friends.

I soon began to map my own personal movement journey through the variety of residentials, retreats and sessions Cheshire Dance had on offer. I became a member of Jam’d and the aptly named Vivrant group, where my animated spirit could thrive in these energetic environments. My curiosities were stimulated and I became committed to exploring my own movement & dancing in more depth. I began to see how dance could reach so many communities of people; it seemed to be a universal language that brought so many different people together. As I progressed my passion into a career, Cheshire Dance gave me the opportunity to work with underprivileged children, early years, older adults and disability groups. I learnt to facilitate not teach and to respect the participants for their individual contributions to each session. My delivery became my learning. This was such a vital moment in my life as I realised that dance is a far more powerful medium than I could have ever imagined when I started.

I went on to train with other crew’s, competing in competitions throughout the UK & winning the UDO World Championships. At college, my mum was ecstatic as I received 3 distinctions in Dance. I decided to travel to California where I taught Dance for 3 months at a summer camp and went on to train at the famous Debbie Reynolds and Millenium dance centres, with many amazing L.A based choreographers. I was so inspired returning to the UK and so began my career as a freelance dance artist, working in education, community and professional contexts across the North West.
For the last four years I have lived and breathed DOPE Male Performance Company. The boys came together from across Cheshire for Cheshire Dance’s Cultural Olympiad Performance project, The Moment When...in 2012. Seeing them remind me of my Jam’d days, eager to learn and perform, finding a common passion and having the best time with a group of new friends. DOPE was born! The urban dance culture is so important to all of us and for the past 4 years, we’ve had the opportunity to share it with the wider dance sector and many and varied audiences through the support of Cheshire Dance. We’ve performed in U.Dance regional and national platforms, worked with professional artists on a range of outdoor, sited and film-based projects and been signposted to opportunities such as Matthew Bourne’s Lord of the Flies, where I performed in the Liverpool show.    
For Cheshire Dance, I have never been asked to perform, move or be like anybody else; my authenticity is welcomed and in turn each DOPE member is supported to grow to be an individual dancer & future leader. Most importantly, we are all seen as artists. We aspire to be a professional company and are making some steps towards this. To be logged in to the bigger picture is recognition of an intensifying commitment Cheshire Dance has on person centred practice and artistic excellence. My Story and DOPE’s journey is a grain of sand on the beach that makes up Cheshire Dance’s impact over the last 40years. They have got a lot of things right, they are warm and welcoming, and if you ask for advice they give you time and help. I wouldn’t be the artist I am today without Cheshire Dance.

(L-R) Zach McCullough, Max Ashbrook, Cieran Evans, Ben Worsley and Sam Davison, DOPE Male Performance Company, In The Mood, NW Regional U.Dance Platform at The Lowry.

Photo: Brian Slater

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