As this unusual year draws to a close we look back at some of our highlights and achievements, against the odds. Including a return to face-to-face teaching for our students, success in our graduating cohorts, and reaching a global audience.
Back in April, our students danced together from their homes across the world in celebration of international dance day. The resultant film contained a message of hope for the future, and demonstrated the tenacity of our student body.
Despite the challenges facing the sector, we continued to deliver our provision for students and stay connected, even under lockdown. Here's a reminder of how we managed it and what this meant for students to continue their studies despite the restrictions:
In September we were delighted to return to the studio with a fresh new intake of students and a blended learning approach, informed by our successful online provision during the summer term. Students were split into smaller groups or 'bubbles' by household for in-person studio classes, and the majority of non-practical sessions took place online, including theory-based lectures, tutorials and student support appointments.
A combination of controls including intensive, more regular cleaning, the wearing of face masks in communal areas, a one way system and a rigorous COVID-19 case reporting system meant we were able to effectively limit the spread of the virus amongst students, with a total of just 26 positive cases during the course of the autumn term.
Feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive:
I have found it so enjoyable to be back in the studio - having the room to move freely again is so lovely. Northern have been very good at making us all feel safe and have really good measures in place to assure this. (Third year BA student Angharad Jones-Young)
Northern is coping extremely well. They are keeping in constant contact with the students about any changes that arise with government guidelines and answering queries when they arise. They are also able to keep a normality in their training, keeping us all feeling like we have something to work on or towards. (Third year BA student Jemma Stein)
NSCD’s response to COVID has been exceptional. The system of support bubbles has been a great asset to our training and gives some semblance of what life was like in regards to dance training before the global pandemic (BA first year Aidan Rathbone)
This year we supported students with over £25,000 of financial aid as a direct consequence of the pandemic, in addition to our usual Student Hardship Fund. Throughout the summer and autumn terms, this fund supported students with basic living costs and IT equipment to ensure all students were able to effectively engage with our online provision, and we're immensely grateful to our donors and funders for their support.
In a year like no other we were delighted with the success of our graduating students who, despite a national lockdown, didn't let that stop them achieving their very best.
Lockdown encouraged us to seek new ways of teaching creative and performance practice, and sharing the results with audiences. Through work created and produced with our students this year and shared online we were able to reach a global audience of over 20,000 people.
Back in June, our postgraduate company VERVE premiered films of their 2020 repertoire over Facebook, including White Lies by Olivier award-winning choreographer Botis Seva and Shelter by prolific Catalan choreographer Lali Ayguadé, to great audience acclaim.
Digital series Editions saw students creating new video works with choreographers Lea Anderson MBE, Eleanor Sikorski and Dr Joseph Mercier and in a re-imagined graduation showcase - Future Now 2020, our graduating cohort of BA students created three unique screendance commissions with artists Gary Clarke, Fernanda Prata and Anthony Missen, with online premieres in July. Each of these works is still available to view on demand.
We closed the autumn term with New Ground, a series of works for the stage created by second-year BA students with Akeim Toussaint Buck, TRIBE//'s Kassichana Okene-Jameson and dance theatre duo Thick & Tight, broadcast live for the very first time from our Riley Theatre across 3 nights in December.
We're immensely proud of the tenacity and ingenuity our students and staff have demonstrated during this challenging year, and of all they have achieved together. We continue to provide world-class dance training and education, finding creative solutions and staying connected. Here's to a new year of creative possibilities ahead.