Kingston University dance students and graduates awarded bursaries worth £500 to showcase talents at community dance festival

Posted Thursday 15 June 2017

Kingston University dance students and graduates have been awarded bursaries worth £500 and the chance to work with professionals in their field as part of the Ignition Dance Festival initiative.

Launched by Kingston Council in 2014 and co-produced by DanceWest with funding support from Arts Council England, the initiative forms part of the annual Ignition Dance Festival – a community event which aims to support young and upcoming choreographers and dance groups to create new work especially for the festival.

One of the £500 bursaries was awarded to BA(Hons) Dance graduates Viviana Rocha and Jean Pierre Nyamangunda who formed What is Written Dance Company as part of one of the final-year modules during their third year of study at Kingston University. The duo chose to use the additional funding towards costumes for their performance at the Festival as well as performance fees for their dancers – many of whom are currently Kingston University dance students.

Viviana Rocha, originally from Portugal, was grateful for the financial support and believes it was not their dance company who have benefitted from the bursary. "It's been a great professional experience for the current Kingston University students who have been working with us because many of them hadn't been contracted for performances before – it was rewarding to be able to advise them on things to look out for, such as contracts and how to write an invoice," she said.

What is Written will be taking their latest production – Awakening – to the International Youth Arts Festival this summerThe bursaries were introduced to encourage creativity by giving budding dancers the opportunity to work with a professional producer at well-known venues across London, while helping them to identify the practicalities and constraints that dancers may have to work with in the future.

Viviana feels that taking part in the Festival and being awarded the bursary was a great way of giving back to the University: "While studying at Kingston University, I found the dance department really supported our extra-curricular activities, aside from our classes. I was given complete freedom to try new dance styles and techniques, and that experience has truly helped me become who I am today," she said.

Kingston University's partnership with the Ignition Dance Festival benefits students from across all academic years. In return for providing commissioned choreographers a space to work in, the professionals provide free workshops for current Kingston University dance students and give the students an insight into the world of professional dance and performance.

Second-year dance student Frankie Wall – who was also awarded one of the £500 bursaries – has been working with West London-based community dance organisation DanceWest to create a special piece for the Ignition Dance Festival community event taking place at Kingston's Rose Theatre. Although still currently a student, Frankie is already gaining a reputation for her signature style of performance where she merges different dance genres together.

Caroline Lofthouse, Senior Lecturer in Dance, is thrilled that two of the bursaries were able to benefit Kingston University students. "The Ignition Dance Festival creates a great platform for students to showcase their developing skills and allows the community to see the diverse range of emerging student and graduate talent," she said.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for our students to be treated like professionals and help prepare them for their future careers on stage."

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