As our CAT students make final preparations to perform a curtain raiser for James Wilton Dance’s LEVIATHAN at Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre on 2 November, we speak to NSCD CAT and degree alumnus Samuel Baxter about his NSCD journey into the professional company…
Samuel’s story: I was first introduced to James Wilton’s work during a workshop delivered by the Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) programme at Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD). Although the workshop was for the current CAT students and I had already graduated to start the foundation course at NSCD, I jumped at the chance to take part when Tracy Witney, Head of Learning and Participation at NSCD gave me the go ahead to ‘sneak’ in. I’d always had an interest in martial arts and gymnastics, so a workshop full of James’ acrobatic movement style, fuelled my enthusiasm even more.
The drive to improve my acrobatic skills continued when I went on to study for a BA (Hons) in Dance (Contemporary) at NSCD and graduated this summer. During my three years’ training I was given many opportunities to develop and hone my skill set – from travelling to America to take part in world championship cheerleading events to performing in a hip-hop / contemporary dance piece during ‘Back to the Lab’ at Sadler’s Wells.
During my final year at NSCD, I experienced James’ work again at a workshop he was holding in London. I spoke to James at the end of the day and was amazed he remembered me from that original CAT workshop. To hear he was thrilled by how much I had grown and progressed, made my day!
I went on to audition for James Wilton Dance as an apprentice. I made it through to the end of the audition process and was ecstatic (and shocked!) to be told JWD would like to offer me a full company position to perform in their upcoming work LEVIATHAN. From CAT student to NSCD graduate and now a dancer in James Wilton Dance, I couldn’t be happier!
Tracy Witney, Head of Learning and Participation at Northern School of Contemporary Dance continues: ‘Sam joined the Centre for Advanced Training at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 2010. He was spotted through a workshop at Rastrick High School in Huddersfield and attended subsequent open days and auditions.
From the outset, Sam had so much boundless energy that needed channelling but not controlling. He had an affinity to street, breaking and parkour as well as contemporary dance. In 2012, at the point he was transitioning from CAT to Foundation course at NSCD, we invited James Wilton to deliver a workshop with our CAT students. We ‘sneaked’ Sam in as a CAT Ambassador and the rest is history!
We are very proud of Sam’s six-year journey at NSCD- from CAT to Foundation to Degree – and now a professional dancer with James Wilton Dance. At NSCD we are committed to giving access to children and young people and use our CAT programme as a springboard to full-time vocational training. Sam is one of many inspirational young professional dancers to have trained with NSCD and we wish him the very best of luck in his future career.’
Photo credit: Samuel Baxter in LEVIATHAN © Steve Tanner
Catch LEVIATHAN on tour this Autumn: http://www.jameswiltondance.org.uk/performances
Watch the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/185697032
Performers: Sarah Jane Taylor, James Wilton, Lisard Tranis, Roger Fernandez Cifuentes, Harlan Rust, Samuel Baxter