To celebrate The Place’s 50s anniversary – we caught up with Sharon Watson to showcase a career path in creative & contemporary dance, through her experience and what she has learnt through her journey in “Creative”& Contemporary Dance.
When did you study at LCDS? Why did you decide to study contemporary dance?
I studied at London Contemporary Dance School much longer ago than I care to say! I was there as a sixteen year old. There was no vocational dance training here in Leeds, so I had to go to London to get my training. I was influenced by the creative relationship established by the late Nadine Senior MBE, and the dancers and the directors of the London Contemporary Dance Theatre. I was steeped very much in the experience, and very much influenced by what I could see, and I realised quickly that that was the place for me.
Tells us a little bit about what happened since! What are the key moments in your career?
I was given my first professional experience prior to graduating school with Spiral Dance Company in Liverpool. I then went back to graduate and what a great experience that was! A key moment in my career has been the fact that yes, I was employed before I was a graduate, followed very quickly by becoming a dance apprentice for Extemporary Dance Theatre. At that point, I was able to experience many many forms of dance in and outside of the company. I didn’t really turn anything down. An invitation came which brought me back to Leeds with Phoenix Dance Theatre and I guess, as they say, the rest is history!
What did you take away from your creative education? What lessons did you carry with you through your career?
Knowing that you’re not always going to be the star at the moment that you feel is right for you. To surround yourself with people that know better and have experience and build enough confidence to keep asking the questions. That’s one of the things that on reflection I feel I have managed throughout my career and those lessons I carry with me today. To accept and to embrace the fear of not knowing, because maybe somebody else has the answers that you’re looking for.
How has dance shaped your life? What were the challenges you had to overcome to keep dancing or to remain in the dance industry?
From the age of nine, I’ve been involved in dance: Creative dance, contemporary dance – you name it, I feel as though I’ve done it! I’m trying to reflect on which roles I’ve not yet experienced within my profession, and I have probably experienced not all of them but a good majority of them. And I’ve loved them all! Even though I can honestly say I wasn’t good at everything but I gave them a try. I had the curiosity and I remain enthused about change and growth which enabled me to have a go, successful or not, and to take those steps forward which I think is integral.
What are your hopes for the dance community? What will it look like to be a dance artist in the future?
I hope that we continue to invest in who we are, continue to invest in change, in growth, in innovation an to remain open. I think we are at a stage where we actually need to rewrite the textbooks around how we operate as artists, as creatives, as facilitators. And it’s really important that we don’t shut down, we don’t close off, or try to recreate what already exists, especially if it’s successful. I hope that dance in the future and the artists of the future will understand the bigger picture of how to remain connected. Because ultimately, I believe art and dance is a life force. It does change lives, that’s not a trivial statement, and I’d love to see that dance continues to change and impact lives.