Children from Allendale Primary School Q&A with Slanjayvah Danza


Children and their teacher, Miss Guttridge: We have some dancers in the class who asked how do you become a professional dancer?

Jen: There are lots of ways to become a professional dancer.  Some people will go to classes after school to begin with, until they are old enough to go to college or university that has a focus on training the body in specific ways of dancing. There are many different colleges and universities with courses in different styles, such as ballet, musical theatre, commercial dance styles and contemporary – to name a few.  Depending on what style of dance you might enjoy, would help you decide which college to choose.

To become a professional dancer is very challenging, it’s a lot of physical work and dedication to ask your body to learn many new things all at the same time. It’s like becoming an Olympic athlete, it takes time and commitment. It’s not a fast journey, you have to be patient with yourself and be kind to yourself when you are learning. Sometimes you also have to realise that there are things you can’t do, or might never be able to do – that other people can do. Yet on the other hand, there are somethings that I can do, that others can’t.  No two dancers are the same.  Their bodies and personalities are all different.  If you are to become a professional dancer, it is important that you do not try to be the same as someone else.  It is important to discover the best ways that your body can move and focus on that.

Children: What sort of dancing are you going to be doing?

Jen: We are going to be doing some traditional dances from Scotland including –

Scottish Step – an ancient traditional percussive footwork dance we do wearing flat shoes to different rhythms in Scottish music based on 3 beats, 4 beats and 6 beats.

Highland dance – specifically the sword dance, which is related to the military and was originally danced by men in competitions

Traditional dance from Spain including:

Flamenco – which involves intricate movement of the arms, hands, fingers and which has a lot of footwork using shoes with a heal that have nails tapped into them to make louder sounds.   Flamenco dancing has lots of different Rhythms, some are counted in 12 beats, some in 4 and others in 6.

Sevillanas – a folk dance (a bit like our ceilidh dances) which is danced at parties and celebrations across Andalucia, the south of Spain.

Contemporary dance – with influences from the styles mentioned above.

Children: What do you wear?

We have made a brand new costume for the show. The dancers will wear skirts and tops that have design influences from cultural traditional dresses of both Scotland and Spain. The musicians outfits are similar in the sense that they have the same theme, but since they don’t dance, the costumes do not have to be designed in the same way. The dancers need to have costumes that will allow all of the varieties of movement to take place. When we are doing workshops, we wear normal dance clothes to be most comfortable.

Children: What music will you be dancing to?

Jen: We will dance to live music, played on fiddle, drums and guitar. The music, similarly to the dancing is either Scottish, Spanish or new music we have made with those influences which I guess you can call contemporary.  There is a lot of music throughout the show and it changes very quickly sometimes from one style to another. I hope you like it. When we do the workshops, we will bring a speaker to play a range of music in these styles so that you get a chance to hear some of it.

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