London Contemporary Dance School’s student representatives play a crucial role in ensuring student voices are heard. For each year, a number of representatives are appointed to represent the views of their fellow students on issues related to their course, and help make a contribution to the student voice.

Isis Clunie is a dancer and past LCDS student representative who has worked with leading choreographers and companies including Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, Oona Doherty, Jamaal Burkmar (Extended Play), Ruby Portus and Michael Keegan Dolan. Here, she reflects on her time as a student rep and how the experience laid the foundations for her future endeavours, including the post as Young Board Member on the Board of Trustees for DanceEast.

Q: What was your role as a Student Representative? What were the kind of things you worked on or were involved in?

A: Sometimes you can be alienated by the upper echelons of the management structures. But, from my experience as student rep at The Place, we worked alongside the senior management to make and incite change. We cultivated close and trusted relationships with staff and were listened too. We all worked towards a common goal, which was to identify what is best for students at The Place!

One key learning moment during my time as a student rep was navigating the pandemic – no mean feat. We were a constant hotline between the students and senior management, with students’ mental health as the main focus for us a team.

A pivotal moment for LCDS were the changes made to the BA course and the new validation partnership with University of the Arts London. I was a student rep during these changes and the senior management team used our experience and knowledge as students to soundboard changes. We discussed the curriculum development of the new course, and if there was an area that did not work for the students, we discussed them with the senior management. We were a core part of deciding the future of The Place and it was empowering.

Q: How did the opportunity to represent your year group arise at LCDS?

Isis: I’ve always been a person who loves interesting conversations and enjoys helping people. There’s just a fundamental curiosity within me of wanting to know everything about what’s going on and maybe help change it. Having this attitude attracted me to being a student rep at LCDS. I liked the idea of navigating how we, the students, can change things for our own good.

Fellow student reps Anouk Joanna, Hannah Bergin and I came in at a point where the senior management were looking for an increased student input into the decisions they were making and helping to steer how the school was changing.

I don’t think I’d be on the Board of DanceEast if I hadn’t been a student rep at The Place. It was great to have this experience alongside my training.

Q: Why was it important for you to have this opportunity?

A: You just need the space and support for your confidence to evolve, and being given the opportunity to be in those meeting rooms and discuss important situations did just this. I appreciated being given that chance.

Also, every institution should have a young board member because the world is changing so quickly. We present the relevant and current problems for the people who are experiencing them now – and we bring them into the rooms where these problems can be overcome.

Q: How has this experience helped you at DanceEast?

A: The Place provided me with the confidence to take on this role. Growing up in the East of England, dancing locally in Cambridge at King Slocombe School of Dance and DanceEast, and seeing the institutions change over time is incredible. Working through the seismic changes at The Place has increased my awareness of how you can help grow and shape an institution. Acknowledging massive issues that our generation is concerned with, like the Climate Crisis, is a vital constituent of creating a forward trajectory for organisations who work with young people.

I grew up at DanceEast, and along with The Place, care about the institution. I don’t think I’d be on the Board of DanceEast if I hadn’t been a student rep at The Place. It was great to have this experience alongside my training.

Q: What is next for you?

A: As well as being part of DanceEast, I’m working with the DJ, Jamie xx. We’re performing at festivals all over the UK which is awesome. The set is durational and improvised so it’s very much about dancing in the moment.