At the very heart of Jasmin Vardimon Company is a dedication to education and nurturing talent. Lauren Baldock explains who benefits and how.
Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy that states that an individual who acts to further the interests of others ultimately serves their own interests. More simply put, it is the belief in doing well by doing good – and this is never so apparent than with an organisation that puts time and resources into education.
The education programme provides a talent stream that feeds the company’s sustainability and also extends our income streams
Such is the case at Jasmin Vardimon Company, the UK dance theatre company. We have always had a commitment to nurturing the talent of our dancers, choreographers, designers and all the other individuals who contribute to our productions. In recent years this commitment has transformed itself into a sophisticated, multi-faceted and fully coordinated education programme that operates alongside and in complete sync with the production work of the core company.
When Jasmin Vardimon started the company in 1998, the impetus for education came from her personal passion for it, as well as the realisation that sharing her knowledge and experience would allow for a natural progression of the work of the company. It also came from the need for dancers who had gone through training to furnish them with the skills and techniques for employment.
We formalised our education work eight years ago with the first accredited postgraduate certificate at Royal Holloway, University of London. Led by senior company dancers, the course was devised to train both dancers and actors, sharing the creative methodology that Jasmin uses in creating her own artistic work. Working intensively over eight weekends and a full week over the course of a year, participants are exposed to different methods of creating physical theatre work that combine vocal, kinaesthetic and visual skills and responses.
In 2012, when we moved to Ashford in Kent, the educational charity Jasmin Vardimon Educational Company was set up along with JV2, our professional development diploma programme. While not dependent on each other, as both retain their individual assets as companies in their own rights, the success, uniqueness and strength come when the two companies work in partnership to offer a diverse programme of performance, training and education, supported and underpinned by current sector professionals of international stature and academic rigour.
An example of this partnership is the selection of professional Jasmin Vardimon Company dancers from the graduate pool of the educational company training programmes such as JV2. Another example are the ex-company dancers re-entering the profession as tutors or education and outreach leads, who are able to share their knowledge, methodology and repertory from previous or current artistic work.
Our JV2 programme demonstrates the integration of every area of dance production into our educational programme. It nurtures talented and versatile performers, as well as young costume and lighting designers, who together collaborate on our touring productions. We have also established relationships with Wimbledon College of Art and Rose Bruford College to offer placement opportunities for young artists to develop their work in a supportive and professional environment.
Young choreographers are commissioned each year to create new work, giving them the creative freedom to work with a company of dancers. They have free rehearsal space for research and development, full production support and professional marketing for nationwide performances at small to mid-scale venues in a spring tour.
The choreographers commissioned to work on JV2 are our dancers who are supported through our talent development initiatives. They do this at the same time as being a performer, or as they develop their own company or return to dance after having a family or a career break.
Initiatives at every level
Two years ago we set up JVIntensive, aimed at dancers who wish to extend their skills to engage their entire capacity physically, vocally, emotionally and conceptually. Over six or ten weeks (depending on which option a student chooses), the programme offers training for up to eight hours a day in a multitude of skills. They then go on to hone their dance theatre skills or explore more theatrical and choreographic work to take back into their own teaching contexts.
The aim is to develop well-rounded and observant performers, with the ten-week extended programme offering more choreographic exploration and development for those interested in creating their own work or developing work specifically for auditions and showreels. The programme now stretches into continental Europe with the recent affiliation to The Institute of the Arts, Barcelona.
Our work includes initiatives and programmes that cover school curriculum workshops, masterclasses, residencies and long creation projects for various levels from children to professionals. All this, along with the company’s commitment to the training of office staff, means that education operates at every level of the company and across the local, national and international communities.
From an educational perspective, the impact of our education programme has been life-changing for many individuals. 83% of graduates from our training programmes are currently employed in the sector as dancers, education facilitators or choreographers, with some directly employed by us.
The education programme provides a talent stream that feeds the company’s sustainability and also extends our income streams and opportunities to form strategic partnerships with health authorities, venue partners, other educational institutions and businesses.
Lauren Baldock is Education Manager at Jasmin Vardimon Company.