Looking behind, and looking ahead

Listen to this article!

I won’t lie, 2021 has probably been the best year of my career to date. I’ve achieved major goals, found that elusive financial freedom and for once felt like I’m succeeding. I’m generally not good at shouting about myself – it feels entirely egotistical, and uncomfortable. I can’t boil down whether this is a feminine issue, a dance issue or a Charlotte issue. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt to shout about myself in this post as I look forward to what I hope will be another satisfying year.

To cover everything, I think I will move chronologically through the year with wonderful moments. To start with:

ProDanceLeeds

After what felt like covert discussions at the end of 2020, I alongside Joao Maio and Anna Cabre joined the PDL team. I’ve always been a massive advocate for the Leeds community and pro class, so being asked to join the team and steer the programming feels like a massive strategic move for me (in a lovely way).

EVEolution

In January ACCA was commissioned by Ilkley Literature Festival for their digital weekend. We worked with Jake Evans, with support from Slung Low to make a rumpus of a catwalk through the evolutionary series which you can check out here!

UNIT

I returned to Suffolk over March and April to work with the wonderful Tom Hobden, Kate Flurrie & Laura Biggs again. I can’t wait to share it with you even though it’s still under wraps, but we put together a gorgeous film project and it was the perfect way to step into the company as Associate Dance Artist. Working with Unit is pure ease, and I can’t wait for the future projects to unfold.

FRONTLINEdance

April saw me join FRONTLINEdance as Associate Artist and from May assisting with their digital and social media work. An integrated dance company, with a hugely important participatory programme, my time at FRONTLINEdance as Associate Artist has seen me working in the studio as a dancer, put me through my Makaton level 1 & 2 training, and also given me sustained remote work utilising my digital skillset outside of the studio. Again, I’m grateful for the birth of this relationship during 2021, and am very much looking forward to the next steps.

NSCD Learning & Participation

After a while of knocking on the door, 2021 was the year I consistently joined the L&P team at Northern. I’m now delivering Youth Technique and CAT outreach and have taught Adult Beginners and Saturday School and have already met so many talented dancers and feel very proud to be a part of their dancing journey.

Occupational Hazard

Over the year we showed an ever expanding, developing and growing sketch of Occupational Hazard at Slung Low, Open Source Arts and at the end of the year at Rural Arts in Thirsk. We’ve received wonderful feedback (apart from the one gentleman who sat me down post show for fifteen minutes to tell me the beginning was too long). We’re hoping to develop OH into a full length piece this year, subject to funding, and may have some performances on the horizon which I’m not allowed to tell you about yet, but if you want to check out more you can head over here.

Image 1: Summer School for Carr Manor School delivered for NSCD in partnership with Northern Ballet and Phoenix Dance Theatre
Image 2: Cautivas Sharing October – Photo credit: Solomon Charles Kelly
Image 3: Delivering Pro Class for PDL – Photo credit: Scott Heleniak
Image 4: ACCA performing at Beeston Festival
Image 5: Facilitating morning class for FRONTLINEdance – Photo Credit Natalie Willatt

ACE funding

I’ve also written about this in depth over on ACCA, but after three attempts I found out we were ACE successful in July whilst sipping a cocktail in Brighton. This was a massive goal for me and Anna, not only because it felt like validation for the work we’re doing, but also because it allowed us to work intensively on a project without the talons of being unfunded. I believe it could be summed up in coffee, clowning and Cautivas….

Overture

Towards the end of the year, I was successful in gaining a place on Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures Overture cohort – a year long programme to develop community dance artists. I’ve already unpicked so much about my career and ambitions in the first two weekends, and it feels like its arrived at the perfect time to develop my practice.

Dance Studio Leeds

Underpinning all of this, 2021 was my third year at my role at Dance Studio Leeds where I have had the pleasure to meet a ridiculous host of professional artists, community dancers and everyone in between. DSL really feels like my home in Leeds, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had over the last year.

Artychoke Zine

Four more issues of Artychoke Zine occurred during 2021 – I honestly don’t know how I managed to fit in time to edit the zine together, but as Anna and my lovechild I guess there’s always time. Check it out here if you haven’t before!

Photo credit Anna Cabré

So… to conclude:

Last year I estimate I’ve taught around 2259 people from aged 3 to 80+. Professional dancers, to complete beginners, I’ve taught on zoom, in primary schools, high schools, FE colleges and universities. I’ve taught in a festival tent in Bradford, a mansion (that was an interesting story) and just a sprinkle of dance studios. I’ve taught across Yorkshire from York to Huddersfield, Leeds to Doncaster. Disabled, non verbal, and able bodied people have enriched my facilitating experience. Contemporary to Thriller themed, I’ll deliver anything.

I’ve also worked with brilliant partners, supporters and organisations such as Arts Council England, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Yorkshire Dance, Dance Studio Leeds, Slung Low, Open Source Arts, Unit, FRONTLINEdance, Pro Dance Leeds, LB Academy, Northern Ballet, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Balbir Singh Dance, llkley Literature Festival, Rural Arts, Beeston Festival, who have funded, employed and shouted about me to their networks over the past year, and fingers crossed I can continue these relationships into the future.

Someone once told me it would take three years to establish myself as a freelancer, and boy oh boy were they right. As I head into 2022, I am so ready to continue my practice, pushing ACCA forwards and just doing what I want to do. My mantra for 2021 was that I needed to give myself consent, and it worked. I’m not sure what 2022 will be – maybe keep going, you’ve got this?

This has turned into a much longer post than I thought, so I’ll end it here. But hey, do you need a performer, teacher, creator, writer, digital support, admin assistant, editor or anything else? I’m not quite at capacity for 2022 yet, so I’m sure I can squeeze you in.

Okay enough, before I cringe myself out…