West Midlands dancer selected by Hofesh Shechter for first UK youth dance company

News West Midlands dancer selected by Hofesh Shechter for first UK youth dance company

4th January 2012

We’re thrilled to hear that Natasha Smith, 18, from Wolverhampton has been selected for the U.Dance Ensemble.

The U.Dance Ensemble is a joint initiative, managed by Youth Dance England in partnership with YDance (Scottish Youth Dance), National Youth Dance Wales, DU Dance (based in Northern Ireland) and Southbank Centre.

20 dancers from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been selected to form the first UK-wide youth dance company. Internationally-acclaimed choreographer Hofesh Shechter who is the artistic director of the company, was in charge of selecting the dancers at a national audition which took place at the Royal Opera House in December.

Natasha Smith has been dancing with Birmingham-based youth company ACE Youth since she was 14, training in contemporary and African dance, as well as touring England and Europe with them. Natasha has also taken part in a variety of dx youth dance projects, supported by Youth Dance England – from the regional performance platform Raw Energy to choreographic project, Choreolab. It was taking part in a Hofesh Shechter workshop as part of a programme of youth dance workshops led by dx that helped prepare her for the auditions.

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 We caught up with Natasha (pictured), who says she still can’t quite believe she’s been selected, “I am training hard to audition for dance schools for   next year, and The U.Dance Ensemble will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Working with Hofesh would be inspirational and develop me as a dancer.  I really look forward to working with new people and developing my skills to prepare me for the dance industry. I am most looking forward to working 
with Hofesh himself to create a piece, learning his techniques in dance and studying his style of movement. I am also really looking forward to working with the other talented dancers in the company to complete creative movement for the huge performance.”

The Ensemble will meet during three main residential rehearsal periods between January and July 2012. During these residencies the U.Dance Ensemble will be led by Hofesh in the creation of a new dance piece and will form a key highlight of Youth Dance England’s U.Dance 2012 festival at the event at Southbank Centre in London, as part of a varied programme of exceptional youth dance work from across the UK.

Hofesh Shechter said about the project: “It's great that the project is now underway, it was a fascinating experience to see young dancers from  throughout the UK during the audition process. I'm looking forward to getting into the studio for the intense creation period, teaching them as much as I can and in turn I'm sure I will be learning from their vibrant energy and humour, of which I've already had a taste over the last months.”

Linda Jasper MBE, Director of Youth Dance England, said: “We are so thrilled to see this  project come to light, and to have been able to bring together such fantastic partners as YDance, National Youth Dance Wales, DU Dance, Southbank Centre and of course Hofesh Shechter to deliver it. Seeing the Ensemble formed and having met the extremely talented dancers that will take part, brings me great excitement and satisfaction and I very much look forward to seeing all those involved working together to create the first piece danced by these young performers from all UK countries.”


For more information about the U.Dance Ensemble and to see the selected company visit www.u-dance.org

Images courtesy of Youth Dance England. Photographer: Brian Slater.

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