REGINA CO interviews society president, EMMA BOSSON (they/them) on what the year ahead is looking like.
This year, Era Journal’s Theatre section is featuring the societies that make up UCL’s bustling theatre scene. For the second of these features, we turn to Dance Society. Running seven shows a year on top of weekly classes in a wide array of genres, it is one of the most competitive dance societies in the university scene.
So Emma, what are your plans for this year?
My main plan for this academic year is to rebuild an overarching sense of community among the society’s members, no matter if you mainly go to classes or only participate in our competition team. During COVID and coming back to in-person society activities, the different elements of the society (classes, shows, and competitions) have felt a little separate from each other. I want everyone to feel valued and welcome, no matter how much you’ve danced in the past or how much time you commit to the society.
I’m also hoping to work more with other artsUCL societies to incorporate Dance Soc into this wider Arts community too, so this feature in Era Journal is a great way to start this off!
You’ve touched on the wide array of events you offer at Dance Soc. Do you have a favourite type of event the society does?
Really, all Dance Soc event’s can be my favourite for many different reasons but I think I’ve most enjoyed being part of shows, specifically being part of Triple Bill.
Triple Bill is our 3-night, sign-up based showcase in Term 2 that raises money for three different charities. This show holds a very dear place in my heart: it was the first show I produced for the society in 2021, the first show I ever choreographed for in 2022 and in 2023, it’ll be the first larger show that I will have been the lead producer for! It’s a really wholesome show. The whole cast always has such a love and appreciation for each other. Although this supportive atmosphere is present in all of our shows, dancing also feels different when the show centres around raising money for charity.
If you were to give your fresher self any advice about joining this society, what would you say?
Don’t be afraid to try new things, jump into the deep end, and (literally) dance like no one’s watching.
Despite dancing for 4 years beforehand, I was too nervous to attend advanced level classes or audition for our competition team when I first joined UCL and Dance Society. I was afraid of trying and looking silly; looking ‘worse’ than other people. Even though this nervousness to attend advanced classes and auditions quickly went away as classes moved in person (and I learned how loving and welcoming the society’s members were), I was still in my head when I was dancing. I continued to compare myself to others which stunted my development as a dancer.
Such an insightful and relieving thing to say. It’s very easy to “get in one’s head” as a performer, isn’t it?
Yes! It took until Term 3 last year for me to live fully in the moment when dancing and not care about how other people in the class perceived me, especially in a class. But something clicked while I was attending a student-led workshop that changed how I thought about dance and triggered me to unlearn this way of thinking.
At this class, we were encouraged to focus on our breath and how this matches and influences our movements. This exercise made me realise how individualised dance is. Even if everyone is performing the same choreography, it’s naturally going to look different because each person has their own style of moving. Also, no one really thinks about how you’re moving other than yourself. So why not go to a class that seems outside of your comfort zone? Why not audition for something that seems a little daunting? If you relax and remember that you’re the only one thinking about how you look, dance becomes a lot more freeing and you’ll actually probably dance more confidently than you did before.
So, all this to say: I would tell my fresher self to go to classes that may appear ‘too difficult’ and try out new styles, even if you’re afraid of doing so. (I would also tell them that Dance Soc is a really cool society and that they chose a pretty good one to occupy all of their free time!)
What is a performance or piece of art that has stuck with you?
Allocentric, a contemporary dance piece choreographed by Fairul Zahid Bloom and performed by dancers from Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore.
It was just insane. I saw this dance at Battery Arts Festival while I was in New York over the summer. It was an almost 30-minute long masterpiece that explores themes of power and struggle and how individuals live in a cycle of ongoing comparison of the self to others. As I watched the dancers perform, the sun was setting on the Statue of Liberty and it was so cool.
A specific portion of the dance I will always remember is a phrase right at the end. The sun was nearly set and the music had stopped. It was silent and all you could hear was the body-percussion-esque sounds from the performers. Their actions and sounds were so in sync and the movements were so clean. It was simply amazing to watch. It is a moment I’m very thankful for and will never forget.
So what’s coming up for Freshers’ Week?
Some of our very talented members are performing at the ArtsUCL fair at the main quad stage from 2:00-2:30pm on Thursday 29th Sep and we will also be performing at the Welcome Fair. Come along to check out what Dance Soc can offer you over the next academic year!
We also have our 24 Hour Show! Sign up to choreograph and dance in our first show of the year which is raising money for the wonderful charity, SUDEP Action. The show is open to everyone regardless of dance experience and is choreographed, rehearsed, and performed in one weekend. Choreographer sign ups open on the 5th of October. Dancer sign ups open on the 12th of October. The show weekend is from the 22nd to the 23rd of October.
Auditions are also happening for our competition teams (open to all members) and our freshers’ show (open to anyone new to UCL):
Freshers’ show: w/c 10th October
Competition team: w/c 17th October
If you would like to choreograph for either freshers show or our competition teams, both of which are open to anyone. Sign ups are as follows:
Competition team: open 3rd October – 15 October.
Freshers’ show: open 27th September – 7th October.
Featured image courtesy of GSD Media.