Estha Jones is the founder and director of Dexterity Dance based in Northampton. She founded the pioneering boys only company ‘RAGE’ in 2001. One of the company members, Edwin has been chosen as a Face of MOVEIT 2018. We talked to Estha about Dexterity and Edwin and their involvement in the MOVEIT event.
Estha, can you describe what you feel makes Dexterity Dance different to other schools and the inspiration for your boys company?
Dexterity Dance is a unique dance school thats trains in Classical Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Street, Tap, Musical Theatre and Acrobatics. We focus on technical training with a strong thread of Pilates and flexibility training. Unlike other dance schools we are not dictated to by syllabus, rather my team of highly experienced teachers train the students with a more vocational style of training and we create relevant strong choreographies that inspire the students to be decision makers and an integral part of the creative process rather like professional companies, particularly in our contemporary classes.
The inspiration for the all boys dance company evolved from my passion of creating complex contemporary work. I love dancing with the boys as they love a physical challenge and their athleticism lends itself very well to the contact work we love to achieve. Historically boys have been more reluctant to participate along side the girls as they are afraid of the backlash of training to becoming a dancer. RAGE has always been so well received by audiences because of its unusual and special nature. Our performances are always very physical yet incredibly sensitive and supportive. We work hard to challenge the ideas of boys dance and what it is to show masculinity and strength. We embrace team spirit and have now evolved into three separate companies from the age of 4 to 22 years. Since introducing Ballet into our all boys programme the standard of performance has sky rocketed as their skill base in terms of pirouettes and footwork.
It’s a major achievement for Edwin and your School that he has been chosen as a Face of MOVEIT. Can you tell us a little about how he became involved? And how you supported his journey into dance?
Edwin came to us to dance relatively late aged 11. I used to teach him at his Secondary school where my RAGE company evolved from, now he is a leading member of the school. He had a strong background in Karate training which meant he was already strong and relatively flexibly and of course is used to hard work with strong focus. Since training in a variety of dance disciplines Edwin excels in Contemporary, Jazz and Street in particular. Last year he won the Northampton festival of dance award for the ‘Most Promising Boy’, which topped his first place in Solo and Trio Contemporary which was an incredible accomplishment for his first year in competitive dance.
Edwin has had to fight to continue to dance this year as he has unfortunately no financial support from home for his studies. I would not turn my back on his training and have supported him this year in fund raising to pay for training, travel and clothing/costumes. One of our teachers showed Edwin the adverts to apply for the FACE OF MOVEIT. He simply applied and was lucky enough to win this opportunity. I as his teacher and mentor I drove him to his photo shoots in London and facilitated his participation and i am so glad that I did as the MOVEIT team are brilliantly supportive.
We believe MOVEIT offers fantastic opportunities for schools and students to experience the whole spectrum of the dance world- what highlights are you looking forward to at the 2018 event?
I am looking forward seeing Edwin dance of course but also excited to get feedback from my students who are attending workshop classes.
It is testament to your inspiration and his training with you, that Edwin has achieved this wonderful platform for himself. He must be a very dedicated student- what are the main qualities you see in him that help him to achieve his goals?
Edwin is driven like an Olympic athlete. He trains everyday and when he’s not training he is listening to music and dreaming the dream of choreography. He NEVER tires. He always works incredibly hard and then wants more, some would say ‘he’s a machine’. I find him to be one of the most sensitive, thoughtful, respectful young men I have ever met. He simply is a pleasure to work with.
In your students how do you encourage a healthy attitude towards success and set backs in our industry?
Of course the dance industry can be brutal. It is a fine line for a teacher of teenagers as I need to be thoroughly encouraging and inspire them to work hard and reach for their dreams. Life as a teenager is hard enough, I personally try to inspire them to believe in themselves regardless of outside influences. At Dexterity we have a ‘family environment’ this means that the older students are supporting the younger students and this is a beautiful thing……However as they get older and more serious about their professional training choices, I try to balance there supportive ‘safe’ perception of the dance world and try to expose them to a more realistic, reality of the industry as, as we all know it is a highly competitive field. Leading up to important competitions and performances I know as a teacher I get much tougher and more critical of their commitment to the choreography I am certainly very firm but fair. When their frustration starts to boil and emotions begin to get in the way….I gently remind them I respect them and love them, but suck it up and crack because in the professional world nobody will support their insecurities. Often this is the point when students decide to dig in and make it work at all costs or start to look at that academic degree choice that perhaps may suit them better as a life plan. Either which way I try to nurture then to make their own choices and fulfilled their own personal goals, as these skills will stand them in good stead for any industry they work in. For all of my former students, those who embarked on a Performance Art career and those that didn’t, they are all fantastic adults whom of which I am proud to know.
We hope the event opens exciting doors of opportunity for Edwin- what are his plans for training in the future?
Edwin is currently looking to go on to professional training in September as his home situation is thus that lifts to training are really tricky so if he could be in one place and board and gain professional training