The Level 3 Performing Arts Dance students performed at the National Royal Opera House Bridge conference on Thursday 29 June at the Historic Chatham Dockyard. It was a great privilege to have been asked to create and perform a piece which was the penultimate event of the day.

The theme of the conference was ‘Rising Tides’ and looked at navigating the future of cultural learning. 'Rising Tide' was the fifth Annual Conference of Royal Opera House Bridge, the Arts Council supported Bridge organisation covering North Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire. The conference brought together professionals from cultural organisations, schools and colleges to discuss challenges and opportunities around cultural learning. This year the conference focussed on how advocates for cultural education can thrive in socially and economically turbulent times.

The contemporary dance piece was about breaking down the boundaries and changing people’s mindsets about the arts. It explored the idea that although we have barriers, if we are passionate and fight for what we believe in then we will stand united and protect the future for the arts. Part of the dance was on site and filmed by some of the Level 3 Creative Media students at various locations in Chatham Historic Dockyard. The resulting film was projected as part of the final performance in late June.

Michele Gregson, Programme Manager for Learning & Participation, Royal Opera House, said “The students were an absolute triumph. Each time I saw the piece, it just got better and better and they were consummate professionals on the day. I think the applause spoke for itself and the Scottish Poet Laureate who was in attendance for the conference, changed her poem selection that she was to read aloud, in response to their performance!”

Sally Manser, Head of the Royal Opera House Bridge Programme, said “Thank you for the months of hard work that went into the complex piece. It was ambitious and you really pulled it off. Your students shone brightly that afternoon. I was particularly gratified to see what a deep learning experience this was for each and every student and also how many students from a variety of departments at MidKent College became involved in the production of the piece.”

Jenny Daniels, the choreographer of the piece and MidKent College Study Programme Co-ordinator commented on how the influential event had been such a privilege to be involved in. “The experience was a real journey for the dancers and indeed, myself as a choreographer. The students worked very hard to produce the piece and found themselves part of a far wider learning experience. The opportunity to work in a site specific space with the Chatham Historic Dockyard helped them to develop and widen their skills as dancers and performers. The Creative Media students captured the essence of the dance and the story perfectly through their filming and editing of the dance film. I truly hope that the piece successfully conveyed the message of breaking through barriers and fighting for what you believe in. We became united as a dance company and feel we achieved what we set out to do.”

The Performing Arts Head of Department Carole Bowles summed up the success of the project, “The students did themselves proud, both in terms of the maturity shown in their creative response, their performance skills as well as their professionalism. With high expectations now set, they are now ready to move forward with pride. They will continue to develop their performance skills and the onward path towards a successful career within the creative industries.”

Thank you to the Royal Opera House for the use of their images.