Project Y Dancer Blog Part 2

In Part 2 of our Project Y Dancer Blog, we chat to 5-time Project Y Company member Rachel Laird (20) to find out about her experience of the project… 

Which past Project Y Performance Courses have you taken part in?

I have done Project Y since completing the Foundation Course in 2012 and then the Performance Course every year after from 2013-2017.

What was it that attracted you to Project Y?

What attracted me was that it was a select number of dancers chosen to work with numerous professional choreographers to create original work.

How is the 4-week programme split up?

The four-week programme is split into 3 creation weeks, week 1 and 3 are all together and week 2 the company is split half and half and works separately. The final week is a tour of Scotland with the full company and all 4 works.

What was it like working in a big group of other young people that you didn’t know?

Working with people I did not know forced me to become a more open and communicative young dancer. I was inspired by all the dancers around me and learnt a lot.

What was the most difficult thing about Project Y and why?

Most difficult part is the physical pain of the long hours, but it is all worth it. Especially if you stretch and eat and drink well it gets much easier – something I learnt over the years.

Is there a good balance of creativity and dance class/technique?

The days are split up like a professional company where you do technique class in the morning and creative in the afternoons.

How did it develop you as a dancer?

I feel I developed a lot creatively and technically as a dancer. I also matured a lot over the years and got a real understanding for contemporary dance, the professionals we worked with and their practices. I developed a style within myself but also the ability to be versatile.

And how as a person?

As a person I feel I gained skills in openness, engagement and adaptability.

What is it like being on tour?

Tour is such a key part of the whole experience of Project Y. It is the moment when it all comes together. All the hard work led to this. Most participants want to be performers, including myself, so getting to experience a small scale tour of Scotland at such a young age is amazing.

Do you feel everyone taking part in Project Y has an equal shared experience?

With everything in life you get out of it what you put in and Project Y is no exception to this. You are asked to try hard, to give your all, be patient and be ready to go at any moment.

As far as you can tell, do you think Project Y is a realistic representation of what working in a contemporary dance company is like? Why?

I do believe that it is a realistic representation of what a working contemporary dance company is like. The hours are similar, as is the structure.

Do you feel Project Y has supported your dance training? In what way?

In dance training you don’t always get that many performance opportunities or touring opportunities so doing Project Y during summer, in between school is so beneficial and really supplements your training. Over summer you can often lose strength, stamina and technique but Project Y makes sure that doesn’t happen and improves you instead.

Do you have a better vision of you career goals and if you want dance to be a part of that?

I now know that I want to be a professional contemporary dancer and that is because of my years training with YDance and Project Y. I do believe that without them and the people I’ve met over the years that I would not be where I am today.

Would you recommend Project Y?

I would absolutely recommend it to every young dancer in Scotland. Do it! I could not recommend it enough.

Would you still recommend Project Y to dancers who do not necessarily class themselves as contemporary dancers?

Dancers who don’t class themselves as contemporary dancers should definitely consider doing it. All the experiences that come along with Project Y from creation, performances, tour, costume, meeting new people and dancing full time are skills that all dancers must gain. It’s all worth it. I started out as a jazz/musical theatre kid and Project Y converted me!

Would you do it again?

If I wasn’t about it graduate I would 100% do it again and again.