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A week with Scottish Dance Theatre - blog by Jia


When I woke up this morning I was ready to catch the train to Dundee because this is my first time work experience with the Scottish Dance Theatre.

When I arrived at Dundee Rep Theatre, I met some of the staff and Dawn, Head of Creative Learning for Scottish Dance Theatre, took me on a tour of the theatre. When I was inside the building, it felt like a bit of a labyrinth; it was very big. There are different areas for props, stage management, lighting, technical, producer and production.  There were lots of different jobs and the staff appeared to be happy and enjoying their work. In the dance studio, I met the company dancers one by one and Dawn explained to the dancers about my work experience and about Deirdre doing interpretation as I am deaf. We finished the tour and returned to the dance studio with the dancers and joined in the warm up, stretching and voice warm up as preparation for the show named ‘Innocence’. As the show was fully booked, I couldn’t get a space to watch it and so I had a talk with Dawn instead. It was really fun and I was happy chatting with Dawn.


Today I went to the stage to join in the dancers physical and voice warm up for ‘Innocence’ in the morning and afternoon.  Dawn explained that I should look out for what will be needed when Innocence goes on tour. I need to think about how the places will be different. Also to think about the relationship of children with parents together as well as how we can do more communication, interest etc. When the first show finished, there was a problem for one of the dancers. She needed to leave because she had a cold and same back pain and she couldn’t do the afternoon show. I was worried about how the dancers would resolve this for the afternoon show or if it would be cancelled or another change. When the afternoon warm up started again, I went back to the stage again and could see things differently. The company dancers’ relationships are really strong and they distributed the movements to cover the injured dancers part. Also some movements were done creatively. This is really different from my college when we have choreography time or if someone misses’ dancers. It is a big strain where it will possibly carry on or be cancelled. This is a new thing to learn as, if this were to happen in future, I could solve things better.  


Today’s class was led by Tom Goodwin. He wanted everyone to think about how they feel with studio, space and stage.  Also to understand how relaxation is used in the studio doing dance, floor, travel etc, and make sure everyone thinks about this. Class finished and Tom wanted to explain about how we need a follower to understand our aim. At 12pm we left the studio to go to Tentsmuir forest to walk amongst the trees and on the beach. This was a really healthy walk and helped me open my mind to look at nature in a different way. I felt open in myself and listened inwardly. I smelled, watched and closed my eyes to and felt something.  Also I thought about how it felt different from the morning in the dance studio. The space is different. We walked to the beach again and felt what it was like to be in nature with sand and sea. It felt inside different and felt more relaxed in mind and mood. When we started walking the longest road Tom wanted to explain about how no-one is responsible and can walk first or middle or last. When we finished Tom gave us a card to think about feedback and write down and post to his house.


In the morning I felt my left arm muscle a bit sore because I was carrying my bag with my shoes inside it. But I never give up and I wanted to go to the Rep Theatre in Scottish Dance Theatre in Dundee for my last day. The class was led by Tom. He wanted the dancers to do warm ups and think about how they feel differently after yesterday. Everyone really enjoyed it and had fun. I feel happy and feel different from yesterday. I want to start the warm up to build muscle stretch, breathing and relaxing. Also during the travel movements, I feel differently and want to build my relationship with the dancers. I really feel open and throw myself into the class without worry and unease. The dancers start to chat with me and it feels different. After the class we have workroom with Jack Webb but he did not want me to join in the workroom because I am a guest. He just wanted the company dancers to do the creativity for his choreography. When I sat back I watched and learned how Jack controlled his choreography. In the afternoon Rosalind Masson had a workroom session.  Now I could join in but I needed to learn from the technique. When the work got complex, she asked me to sit out. I sat back and watched a different way and learnt new things from the choreography. Also the dancers felt different from the past as they had never learned this piece before. When the class finished I wanted to stay with the company dancers and go to the pub and chat. This is the last time I will see some of the dancers.


This is my last day of work experience and I feel the time has gone fast. Now I needed to travel to Dunfermline and go to the Carnegie Theatre to do the show ‘Innocence. When I arrived at the studio I could see the stage and light plan is different.  Also the tech work needed to be changed a bit because the theatre stage has transformed to a studio. Now we needed to make sure the props, stage, lights and music are all set up and we wait for the dancers to arrive.  When I had free time I went to ask the lighting staff Adam some questions. I asked him the difference between working with the lights when on the stage and in the studio. Adam was very nice and patient. He answered my question to make sure I understood. When he goes on tour he needs to think about the set up of the lights in a different space. He needs to know the stage plan, light plan and prop set. When the dancers arrived at the studio they needed to warm up first and then they wanted to do the teching for the lights and the stage. When they finished that they needed to practise from the top to the end. Some parts they needed to add some more movements. When the show started it was different because there were lots of people coming with children. There was lots of excitment, mixed up with fun with the dancers from Dundee. When the show finished, I helped with the clear up and dismantle of the stage include lights, props, floor mat and lots more. When the dancers were about to leave they wanted to tell me something and to say thank you to me for helping with the tech, for the sign language information I gave everyone and for giving everyone a sign name to remember. After this I left with the dancers and went back to the van to say a last goodbye.

I really enjoyed this week of work experience and was happy to learn lots of valuable experience, company work, being on tour and lots of skills. Hopefully I will return to learn more!

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