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AUB Dance: An Interview With Lawrence James And Holly Burridge

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Local graduates’ Lawrence James and Holly Burridge both grew up in the area, and both graduated with first-class honours. Both engaged with local industry throughout their studies and plan to stay nearby as they embark upon their careers as Dance Artists.

We spoke to them to find out a little more about their time at AUB, how their final dance projects went and plans for the future…

What made you decide to study Dance at AUB?

Lawrence: I had previously taken a foundation degree at Bournemouth and Poole college. I studied for two years and then I took a four-year gap, undertaking an apprenticeship with a company in London gaining valuable industry experience. We toured as well, which was really exciting. From that, I then went on to teach dance locally in Bournemouth and Poole. I taught a couple of ballroom and Latin dance classes at Bournemouth’s Pavilion Dance each week, as well as offering private lessons. I then decided that I’d like to teach full-time, which is why I looked into Dance as a course to study at AUB in order to gain a full degree – it was the right time and I’ve loved every minute of it.

It must have been quite different for you as the student instead of the teacher, Lawrence?

Lawrence: It’s been quite nice actually, every morning I came in to have a class, just dancing for myself and enjoying it, without having to think about all the planning! Also, having a number of different lecturers bringing different experiences to each class, different types of dance techniques and qualities. It’s also good to have a go at different projects that I may not have explored. It helped to inspire me and I had the chance to think more about what type of dance teaching I would like to go on to do.

Congratulations to you both on gaining first-class honours, that’s fantastic!

Holly: Thank you, it’s all been a bit surreal. The course has gone by so fast and I can’t believe that I’ve actually done it. It was all a bit crazy. I was helping out at the Grad Show with my friend Hannah, and I was really nervous before-hand about getting our results. Jane, our Course Leader came in and I was like, “Nope, I’m not looking at them” – It was my 21st birthday the next day, so it was either going to be a really good birthday present or just not at all.

Anyway, it hit 12pm and Hannah opened her results straight away and did amazingly well! Hannah and Jane then looked at me and exclaimed, “OPEN THEM!!” So, I did. The whole time I was getting them up on my phone, thinking ‘AHHH’! When I eventually saw my grade, I was in shock. I looked at Jane with my hands over my mouth, before saying: “Are you sure?” I never for once thought I’d be capable of achieving a first-class honours degree. I’ve never been the academic type, so this is just beyond amazing.

Can you tell us a bit about your final project, Holly?

Holly: During my final year I ‘Event Managed’ a new dance event, ‘Springboard’ as part of my negotiated project at Pavilion Dance South West in Bournemouth town centre. ‘Springboard’ was curated by a group of third years, who were involved in both the creation of the event and in teaching local students from Bournemouth and Poole college and pupils from The Bourne Academy. The aim was for the students to showcase their performances at the ‘Springboard event.’ Event management was extremely fun and one of the biggest eye-openers for me as to how much I have learnt and developed whilst being at AUB. ‘Springboard’ was an excellent opportunity to take the lead and experience the planning and running of an event. Through the project, I hope I inspired those who are considering exploring dance further.

What about you Lawrence? What’s the plan for you now?

Lawrence: For my final project I did a research project in motion capture dance, which is now going to become an Arts Council bid. I’m going to push that forward and, hopefully, get some funding so that it can become a more professional piece of work. It was a project of finding out whether one man can duet with himself, the form of a human body dancing with an animated body. I used this project as research into whether it is actually achievable – it certainly is! As part of the project, I looked at hallucination and mental health, which is part of the syllabus, so I may continue down the ‘health route’ and dance for wellbeing. But, I’ll have to work with the Arts Council to see what they are looking for.

We also had a guest lecturer who wants to do a dance film, so I’m going to be in that, which I’m looking forward to. I’m also still regularly teaching, so I have lots of different avenues to explore now and keep me busy.

Holly: My plan is still a little up in the air. I’m just taking every opportunity and applying for opportunities that I like the sound of. I’m still very much trying to dip my toes into everything. Right now, I’m applying for jobs in schools to gain more experience for a career in teaching dance. I’ve also looked into events and show – I have even found myself Googling ‘how to become a stunt woman?’ I’m excited about what the future holds and to just get started. I’m extremely lucky that I’m leaving knowing there is more than just performing that I can do with my degree.

And, how have you found your time here at AUB?

Holly: NUTS! Just so much fun! It’s been hard work, when times get tough it would have been so easy to have just quit. Thank goodness I didn’t. I’ve learnt so much. When you think ‘dance course’, you may think of a bunch of people jumping or rolling around all day. Although that does happen, I’ve experienced and learnt so much about teaching, producing and event managing, something that would’ve never crossed my mind when first starting the course.

It’s amazing to be surrounded by like-minded people and lecturers that are encouraging you to just do your best. They don’t try to mould you to one type of dance artist – I know I’m leaving AUB still myself as a dancer, just a lot more knowledgeable within the sector and confident with what else I can do.

Lawrence: For anyone that is thinking of coming into a deferred third year at University as I did, actually there is a way into it and for me it was a nice transition, it’s not as daunting as perhaps is perceived and there’s lots of support along the way.

AUB has so much to offer. The recent Graduation Shows were brilliant because usually you walk around campus and you’re only focussed on your own degree and your own work, but at the Shows we got to look at the work of the interior design course and the modelmakers and arts and animation and all the other degrees and you realise how much talent is around. Some of the short films that were created were incredible. Of course, as an Arts student, I can appreciate how much work has gone into each of the projects that were displayed – a photograph from a photography student may look like just an image, but I understand how much work was behind that one shot! You can absolutely see why, for many of the subjects, Bournemouth is the top choice creative university to study at throughout England.

Find out more about the BA (Hons) Dance course.

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