Former YDance participant Jemma Stein talks about Project C – her new dance film inspired by isolation and shares how her experience with YDance has played a key role in her development as an artist and the creation of this new work. 

I was introduced to YDance at their Connections weekend in 2014. Over the next seven years I became involved in a variety of projects such as Destinations from 2015 – 2019, Horizons from 2015 – 2017, Project Y from 2016 – 2018, and the National Youth Dance Company of Scotland (NYDCS) from 2017-2019. During these projects I had the opportunity to tour nationally and internationally to Spain, Germany, France and Australia, where I met and collaborated with a variety of dancers, choreographers and dance companies. My experiences with YDance enabled these global contacts and nurtured my craft. Over the years, YDance has built my confidence as a young artist and taught me that my individuality is something to be celebrated. They have also been a large part of my growth outside of dance, teaching me professionalism, punctuality and organisational skills whilst balancing full time education and dance.

I am currently in my second year at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, having previously trained for two years at The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance. YDance has been a company I have been involved with before my training and continue to have a close relationship with now. My previous work ‘What You Saying To It’ featuring fellow NYDCS dancer Shannon Dray,  was highly successful and was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Flock Festival and DanceLive.

During this isolation period I had a desire to connect to my friends and fellow dancers, many of whom I met while on tour with Horizons and NYDCS. This developed into the idea for Project C. While working closely with YDance’s artistic director Anna Kenrick, I was shown many different ways to create material, orchestrate dancers and articulate my artistic vision. During the making of Project C I drew on these skills including asking the dancers questions to evoke thought in which to create movement.

Project C brought together thirty three dancers that had not all met before, to create a choreographed work as though we were together in space. I spent time orchestrating a language of movement which the film would follow. This led to posing questions and sending material for dancers to learn, respond and manipulate all through digital mediums. The dancers and I focused our ideas around the words isolate, distance and relocate. Whether the artists chose to respond in movement, spoken word, drawings or written responses to posed tasks, they involved themselves however they saw fit. Sharing their art with one another and finding a focus through this isolated state.

‘In today’s world isolation means to not have any contact with anyone, physical or emotional. Emotionally we are quite distant from other people. Despite that, I can’t wait to see everyone again’- Project C participant.

You can watch the full performance of Project C below.