1. Can you tell readers how you became involved with dance?
My involvement in dance began with a trickle and soon became a torrent.
By chance I saw Billy Elliot and it immediately grabbed me. After realising quite how much stretching can hurt and thinking of the associated stigma of being a male dancer, I dismissed the idea, as being “for girls”. However I still harboured a want to know more. I began to ask a few of the girls at school about the basic positions of ballet. They showed me once, twice, three times but before long grew frustrated as I continued to ask questions. The poor girls eventually gave up and with exasperated sighs, told me to come to their class. I do not think they expected me to.
The week after, I did my first plie. I remember it distinctly. Knowing that dance was what I wanted to do with my life, even as I plie’d. After moving through a few dance schools in my quest to learn as much as I could, I eventually auditioned for Laine Theatre Arts and Bird College, two musical theatre institutions. Having always been told, “it’s easy for guys”, I was confident I would get into both. I did not get into either. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I just wanted it all the more. I did A-level exams and went to a ballet school in the evenings. I then auditioned for and went to London Studio Centre the following year.
2. What do you find you like best about dance class?
What I like most about class is the continued opportunities to learn and improve. In particular the new techniques and experiencing contrasting ones too, finding my way through them and realising how often they enhance each other.
I recently graduated from London Studio Centre. I cannot think of another dance school in Britain that provides the opportunity for such a solid, well-rounded training, exemplified by the divergence of the third year students into the four performance companies: Images of Dance (Ballet); Jazz Dance Company (primarily jazz and commercial jazz); Seedtime (musical theatre) and Intoto (contemporary dance), the latter of which I am an alumni of.
Sue Booker, Intoto’s current Artistic Director and head of contemporary throughout the college, works tirelessly to provide her students with some of the best contemporary teachers in the industry today. It is the perfect environment to cultivate self-sufficient, strong, well-rounded and employable dancers. Class with Intoto in particular provides the chance to better yourself every day, whilst exploring the intricate qualities of sophisticated movement.
London Studio Centre has very strong contextual studies. Whilst at the college I often did not find those lectures the most interesting of classes. However I have already reaped the reward of them and the skills the tutors helped instil, having written reviews for international dance magazines, Tanz and Dance Europe, which was only made possible through valuable connections made at LSC.
3. What is the hardest part about dance for you?
Without a doubt the hardest part of dance for me is staying flexible. It is arguably not a vital part of dance in itself and most certainly not something that alone makes you a good dancer yet it is very much a quality that facilitates better dancing, whilst also being an important part of body maintenance. In the earlier years of my training I also found staying calm and relaxed hard. I wanted so desperately to be ‘good’, I would put 100% into everything. In doing so I lost all ability to be subtle. I had to learn to be strong like a waterfall rather than a brick wall.
4. What advice would you give to other dancers?
My advice to other dancers would be; learn from everyone and anyone you can. Corrections can sometimes click, by hearing the same thing but in a different way from a new teacher.
Pay immaculate attention to detail, including the quality of the movement. When you look at something, actually see it.
No matter how stiff you are never give up on flexibility–you just have to want it enough.
Do not get down when you cannot do something at first, or if someone tells you that you will not do something. The days you feel awful and you just want to get back in bed; they are the days you’re improving most.
Work intelligently as well as hard. Remember how you eat an elephant, a little bit at a time.
Be nice to everyone, you never know who they know.
Live for today’s lessons.
Maybe most importantly, remember it is only dancing.
5. How has dance changed your life?
People say that dance is their life. I do not think this is healthy, I believe living enhances your dancing. However it is without doubt that dance has shaped my life and who I am today. Many corrections from class apply to life as well; this philosophy has maybe changed me more than anything else.
Dance has also forced me to be organised, as reliability is always an appealing trait to have. Dancing and training at London Studio Centre has provided me with an abundance of opportunities that have already began to shape the path of my life in a way I would never have imagined. Since finishing the Intoto tour and graduating, I have been fortunate enough to travel to America in order to dance and choreograph for Burklyn Ballet Theatre and subsequently guest with Kim Robard Dance in Colorado in their upcoming season.
BIO: Luke Bradshaw first studied dance at The Joanne Bond School of Classical Ballet. He then attended London Studio Centre where he developed his passion for contemporary dance and choreography, dancing with companies such as The People Pile and Company London, and his own choreography has been performed at venues across London. His most recent work A Most Probable Certainty was commissioned and performed by the Burklyn Ballet Theatre in the USA. Luke has just finished a national tour of England with INTOTO DANCE COMPANY. He has also written for European dance magazines Tanz and Dance Europe.