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My Journey with IRIE! dance theatre

Recent graduates Jamie Baker and Connor Taylor share how the experience at IRIE!'s BA (Hons) Diverse Dance Styles opened the doors to an exciting future in the dance sector.

Jamie Baker

2021 Graduate

Freelance Artist.

Since graduating from IRIE! Dance Theatre in September 2021, I have become extremely busy.

I have taken on more teaching opportunities due to my increased availability. I teach young people a mixture of street dance and gymnastics six days of the week. In addition to this, I have joined an agency and I am currently seeking more job opportunities in the performance sector. I am also in the early stages of producing several projects, both in the long and short term.

One of these projects, still in the infant stages of production, is the continuation and evolution of my independent project from my last year at IRIE! dance Theatre: ‘No Wonderland’. My long-term goal is to get this production shown in theatres and galleries around London.

When I have free time, I pop by the Moonshot Centre to check in with my friends and lecturers and offer any assistance where necessary, whether it is helping with sound for a showing or helping IRIE’s newcomers adjust to university life.

My time at IRIE! was amazing and I am very proud of the person and the performer I have become during my tenure there. It is also a privilege to see my peers in the same position I have been in the past and offer any advice that they may find beneficial.

For IRIE! as well as myself, the future is very, very promising.

Connor Taylor

2021 Graduate

Currently Education and Community Engagement officer- IRIE! dance theatre

When entering through IRIE!’s door, I knew this was where I wanted to start my dance training. Somewhere which nurtured my individuality, challenged and accepted me as a dancer: I came from a background of Contemporary dance, and Jazz with some ballet training. I was drawn to IRIE! for its uniqueness and the repertory of works reflective of African and Caribbean movement fused with contemporary forms. My first-time dancing to live drumming was during the Caribbean class with the late, Lincoln Allert and Master drummer Ras Happa, each beat of the drum: allowed each us to participate in something much greater than just a dance class but a culture and a ritual. For me that is the essence of IRIE! - It is a ritual, which takes you on an individual dance journey supported by an outstanding team of professional artists with expertise in the Dance of the African Diaspora (DAD).I feel honoured to have studied with IRIE! learning the authentic and nuances of African and Caribbean dance.

Each tutor has been a mentor for me whilst studying; helping me progress, not only as a dancer with technique but also as an individual. The tools I have learnt from each tutor has helped me to shape my career path. The confidence installed in students whilst at IRIE! is something which will follow you as you continue on your journey; I believe I am testament to that.

After graduating in 2021, I became the Education & Community Engagement Coordinator: this has been an informative, thrilling and uplifting challenge as I have worked to further the IRIE! Community and Education Programme, whilst staying true to IRIE!’s ethos, missions, and values. Since working in the role, I have maintained healthy partnerships with our federation schools: Grinling Gibbons, Lucas Vale and St Joseph's Catholic Primary, whilst working to build new partnerships within New Cross and Deptford. This has been a fantastic experience for me as I can see my development, especially when interacting with the students on the BA. I can see that some have seen me in my role and feel comfortable knowing that there are opportunities for them once they move on from the course.

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