To celebrate The Place’s 50s anniversary – we caught up with Samantha McCormick to showcase a career path in dance, through her experience and what she has learnt through her journey in Contemporary Dance.
When did you study at LCDS? Why did you decide to study contemporary dance?
I studied at LCDS between 2011 and 2012, on the Advanced Dance Studies PG and MA courses. Contemporary dance has been a part of my life since I was about 7 – I was incredibly lucky to have both a primary and secondary school that offered it as an after-school club! As I got older, I realised how much this style of dance helped me understand who I was and make sense of the world – when I got to the end of my school years, the only option that felt right for me was to study it!
Tells us a little bit about what happened since! What are the key moments in your career?
I have explored all sorts of options in my career since then, including facilitation, performance, and dance for film. I became curious about somatic practice whilst studying at LCDS, which has led to a focus on dance and health. I’m really passionate about inclusion and social change too, probably stemming from making my way through an often shy and anxious childhood with dance! I now have my own company and also work with an inclusive dance charity. One particularly memorable time is working with children in refugee camps in Athens. Dance immediately broke down language barriers and opened up a space of creativity, empathy, and discovery. It was a profound experience and I learnt a lot.
What did you take away from your creative education? What lessons did you carry with you through your career?
My main take away has been resilience – dance training is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one, and I’ve realised how often I’ve managed to move through challenging moments. I can’t say I’ve found it easy, but my education definitely strengthened my resilience. Part of this is listening to my body, and to my intuition – dance really connects you to that deep sense of knowing in your body. In times of challenge or uncertainty, I’ve found that is what I can always rely on.
How has dance shaped your life? What were the challenges you had to overcome to keep dancing or to remain in the dance industry?
The fact that contemporary dance was so freely available to me within my school education (mainstream UK state schools) enabled me to grow as a person as well as pursue my desire to train as a dancer. When I was younger, I thought that performance was my goal, but I later I learnt that my passions actually lay in increasing access to dance and using my skills to open doors for other people who may benefit like I did. There have been many times where I’ve questioned everything, but I’ve realised that any sort of journey is not linear. Journeys are more cyclical, with endless possibilities and directions, and I remind myself of this often.
What are your hopes for the dance community? What will it look like to be a dance artist in the future?
I would love for the dance community to truly embed inclusivity and diversity; in terms of the people it engages, from grass roots activity to professional performance, and in terms of how the skills and talents of dance artists are valued across the many different career paths. It’s certainly improved from when I first started professional training in the early 2000s, but there’s still a way to go. Dance offers such joy, discovery, and connection and I feel strongly that this should be available to anyone who wishes to experience it. It would make the world a more inclusive place too!