Over 1,200 dancers from 34 countries auditioned for Shechter II , Hofesh Shechter's junior company committed to nurturing young artists and helping to shape the future of contemporary dance. With only eight dancers worldwide selected to join the prestigious company, we are beyond proud that two of them are LCDS alumni: Holly Brennan and Piers Sanders represent the very best of the next generation of contemporary dance artists.
We caught up with them ahead of starting the next exciting chapter of their careers.
The Place: When did you study at LCDS? Why did you decide to study contemporary dance? Any highlights of your time studying here?
Holly Brennan: Creativity and curiosity have both always been a part of my genetic makeup and contemporary dance facilitated these things innately, so studying it felt like a very natural next step to take as I felt aligned and connected to contemporary dance. I went on to study the BA (hons) at LCDS from 2018-2021 and when reflecting on my training, Choreology classes with Eva Recacha and Form and Structure with Lola Maury were some highlights; both classes were profoundly enriching and were significant in helping me to understand the palette of my movement and provided me with tools to paint with, through specificity and awareness.
Piers Sanders: I started at LCDS in 2017, graduating in 2020. I decided to study dance because it simply made me feel good. For me, it was, and still is, a very honest and full way of expressing myself that brought me into my body and to the present moment which I hadn't found in anything else before dance. A highlight for me was always the contact jam at the beginning and end of the year when all the students from across the school would get together and move together in one big space. It always felt very unifying and communal.
Tells us a little bit about what happened since! What are the key moments in your career?
PS: I went on to complete an MA with NDCWales. From there I joined Humanhood Dance company and was dancing with them for 2 years.
HB: Since graduating, I was grateful to transition into Northern School’s postgraduate company VERVE 2022, as a company dancer. Verve facilitated a tour of our triple bill of works by Akram Khan, Sita Ostheimer and Alessandra Seutin and allowed me to gain a Masters degree.
Upon graduating from Verve, a key moment was when I moved to Germany to take a full-time role as a company dancer at MiR Dance Company (Musiktheater Im Revier Gelsenkirchen) as their first ever British artist. Now I’m delighted to be joining Hofesh Shechter Company’s Shechter II cohort.
What did you take away from your creative education? What lessons did you carry with you through your career?
HB: My education at LCDS was very divergent. It gave me a multidimensional, cognitive and physical impression on contemporary dance and the tools to complement that; much of my cognitive understanding of choreography and movement and approach to composition has come from my training there. A little gem that I grew to understand and practise is that you are a cosmos of many things and by shape shifting in accordance to whatever you are doing, there are a multitude of ways to apply your cosmos. And contradictions are great!! There is a place for extroverted Holly to practise and a place for introverted Holly to practise sometimes in the same project!
PS: Self practice is one of the main things I took away from training. I began to learn how to care for myself and my body in whatever way felt good at the time. Another valuable lesson I learnt from training at LCDS is the ability to share a creative space with others and allow for everyone in such a space to support each others creativity.
How has dance shaped your life? What were the challenges you had to overcome to keep dancing or to remain in the dance industry?
HB: To say it succinctly; dance has a very strong, accountable presence through my human experience. It feeds me a lot and has brought me to a myriad of people and experiences that have made up my life experience. Since being a toddler, I grew up spectating a lot of site specific dance works in the Greater Manchester community. Soaking in a variety of people sharing their movement practices was so expanding whilst I was literally growing and I feel that it grounded and broadened me and has continued to do so.
There have also been challenges - I found it challenging to fund a masters degree and to fund relocations for projects/jobs- whilst these things have been extremely rewarding and a great wonderful privilege, it is notoriously difficult for many people to afford opportunities like these in the arts! To overcome these challenges regarding funding and finance, there wasn’t one formula I followed, I managed it by trying many methods and motivations.
PS: Dance has allowed me to travel and meet many people from different walks of life which is something I love about it. All the amazing different people I’ve met and had great experiences with along the way have definitely had a big impact on how I approach life in general nowadays.
I suppose the main challenge for me has been balancing injury with dance work. Finding the fine line between knowing when to rest and when to push which is so important for recovery.
What are your hopes for the dance community?
PS: I hope that the dance industry can strive to become a more inclusive and affordable industry to be a part of.
HB: A big hope is for government funding to grow in the dance sector! I would love to see more dance artists financially supported to express, develop and share their crafts.
I also hope for dance to continue its osmosis into different walks of life; not just conventional dance spaces but to connect across art forms, industries and everyday life to share the benefits and joys of dance to everyone inclusively.
Holly and Piers will be performing in Hofesh Shechter’s compelling new work, From England with Love, whichwill embark on an extensive UK and international tour throughout 2024, with full dates and venues to be announced shortly. https://hofesh.co.uk/