After the success of Joan Clevillé’s contemporary dance class with DanceSoc, Mr Clevillé encouraged BalletLORENT’s associate director, Debbi Purtill, to hold a session with the club.
This was a great privilege for DanceSoc President Alison Thomas, who has endeavoured to create ties with professional touring companies. Ms Thomas, embracing modern means of connectivity, used Snapchat throughout the session in order to involve DanceSoc members who could not attend.
BalletLORENT is a contemporary dance company based in Newcastle. It was founded by Liv Lorent MBE. The prestigious group has produced works that have been critically acclaimed by newspapers such as The Guardian and The Financial Times – it still has to tick The Saint off its list, however.
Similarly to Mr Cleville, Ms Purtill decided to split the two-hour session into two halves. The first half focused on warm-up exercises, whilst the second involved performing a routine from BalletLORENT’s latest production, Snow White. Ms Purtill’s warm-up was inspired by traditional yoga poses and aimed to stretch muscles, aiding the class’ flexibility for the second half of the session. Ms Purtill focussed on spinal movements that would prove crucial when the class attempted a routine from Snow White. Music was added to accompany the manoeuvres and maintain a sense of focus and engagement amongst class members.
With the warm-up complete, Ms Purtill introduced Snow White and described the routine she wanted the class to perform: the seven dwarves’ ascent from the mine. She described the dwarves’ movements as “graceful in the way they were distorted” and encouraged the class to bend and twist their spines to simulate what years working in a cramped mine might do to one’s posture.
Ms Purtill, encouraging individuality, implored the class to “not become a slave to the rhythm.” She asked participants to find a unique way to represent the dwarves. DanceSoc members embraced their creativity and used the surroundings to provide a greater scope of manoeuvrability. For example, they positioned chairs to allow movement and even used the stairs of the town hall’s stage to their advantage.
Ms Purtill was so impressed with the class that she took photographs throughout to send to her colleagues . The session was a triumph and another achievement of Ms Thomas’ successful tenure as DanceSoc president.