Catrina Nisbett - Northern School of Contemporary Dance


Access to Higher Education Diploma

Why did you decide to study contemporary dance? 

I started dancing from a very young age, within a street dance group training in styles such as hip hip, popping, locking and more. The majority of my life, dance was always secondary to my academic studies. I attended King’s College London and graduated with a BSc in Mathematics but through this degree I grew to realise that dance is more than just something I really enjoy doing in my spare time. I wanted to make dance primary. I began to develop a genuine curiosity into the human body and how to move safely. Safety is something I feel is missing in street dance world because the dance styles come from an organic emotional place not an aesthetic or necessarily logical one. For me, dance technique is for safety and the unconscious confidence in the freedom of movement. Therefore combining the knowledge from various styles would allow for a versatile well-educated mover. So to do this, I needed to gain a foundation in technical dance training and I felt that studying contemporary dance full time was the best way for me to do this.



What do you enjoy about training in Leeds at NSCD?

One of the things that attracted me to NSCD is how small it is. It was nothing like any other university I have previously been to. Because it is small it means you are not just a number in the school. Relationships are developed with teachers, and as a result they understand and support your progression. Another major thing about Leeds is the fact that most of my family are from here. They migrated from a very small island in the Caribbean straight to Chapeltown in the 50’s, so being in this area surrounded by the community is almost like being on the island of Nevis… without the Sun!

What is life as a dance student like?

I love it. Commitment is key. Waking up everyday and consciously working on my body is something I have always wanted to do. Even when energy is low, it’s about having the drive to get up and get in. Because I know once I get moving in some way, it is always this that re-energises and refreshes the soul, body and mind.

What are the highlights of your time at NSCD so far?

Some of the people I have met here; beautiful beings. Another highlight is my choreographic development. NSCD pushes the students’ creative and choreographic skills as much as the contemporary dance technique. Exploring these creative methods in a class environment was a new experience for me, and I was very gratefully selected to perform my solo as a part of the Access Graduation show. Additionally, experiencing an injury really increased my awareness towards not only hearing your body, but actually listening to it and working in a way that suits it best.

What are your career goals?

I am currently a dance artist in Spoken Movement Dance Company and a self-employed mathematics tutor. As well as this I am signed to Simon & How talent agency as a freelance dancer. I truly believe the goal is to continue to happily work for myself and alongside others to use/develop all the skills I have, love and are good at. And very often trade these skills for money to survive!

What advice would you give to people thinking of studying contemporary dance?

Delve in and do it! The first time I auditioned was my first ever ballet and contemporary technique class. I didn’t get in. I researched, took classes, worked hard and happily got in the next year. I believe anyone is capable if they put in the work.