News: Dance class pick: Alleyne Dance

Friday 22 September 2017

The Alleyne sisters, having danced for some of the biggest names in the UK dance scene including Akram Khan and Retina Dance, are now they are teaching together as part of their company Alleyne Dance. They will be joining The Place in September to teach on their adult evening programme. We caught up with them to see what they have in store for us.

Can you tell us a little bit about your dance backgrounds?

We were originally trained as athletes from a young age. Our sport was sprinting 100m, 200m and 400m. We also briefly studied sign language as we used to translate songs for our youth Gospel Choir we were a part of.

At 15 we transitioned into hip-hop and then at 16 we went to the BRIT School where we were introduced to Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, Salsa, Jazz and Lindy Hop. This is where our fascination in contemporary dance begun; we were able to be experimental, combining all the dance styles we were beginning to learn.

We then went to NSCD where we began training in contemporary dance. As we were transitioning from two physical extremes – athletics to dance – we joined a yoga club and trained in Ashtanga Yoga. This started to change our body and create length in our tense muscles.

After graduating, we separated to experience different dance journeys from a release company; to a Cunnigham company; to a dance theatre company. We also started to train in African Dance with an African company in London. Then, once we joined Akram Khan Dance Company, Akram personally started to train us in Kathak and we have been practicing every day since.

Now with our own dance company, we enjoy fusing all our movement knowledge together from hip hop to sign language.

What can we expect from your classes?

Our Contemporary class will involve strong, complex and technical sequences moving in and out of the floor. We will also focus on performance/stamina and commitment throughout the session, and will use improvisation as part of self-development.

The significant factors for our workshops are to develop the dancers’ creative mind, drive from passion, determination, strength, and musicality. But most importantly we encourage an honesty in whatever choice they make throughout the session.

Our style has been inspired and developed from working with the likes of Akram Khan (fusion of Kathak and Contemporary Dance), Retina Dance Company (Release and Contact Work), Gregory Maqoma (Afro-Fusion Dance) and Henri Oguike (Classical Contemporary Dance based on Forsythe and Cunningham techniques).

What do you like most about teaching?

We love to share. We like inspiring and being inspired and thrive on the positive energy generated in the room. It is important to us that our participants takes the practice seriously but not themselves and to have a sense of humour. To enjoy making mistakes and finding the possibilities.

Who was your most influential teacher?

We have three most influential teachers:

  • Andile Sotiya. He is South African and our hero. He taught us at NSCD and he inspired us to jump as high as the boys, to truly work hard and to work with passion.
  • Kialea Williams. She is a dancer from Phoenix Dance Theatre based in Leeds. Her body was similar to ours (muscular) but she had a beautiful classical technique. Kialea mentored us occasionally through our training at NSCD and RODA summer intensive.
  • Akram Khan. He challenged our strengths and our weakens. Gave us the knowledge of Kathak which has influenced our movement qualities.

What’s been the most challenging piece that you’ve performed in?

ITMOI_by Akram Khan. It was the first job we both worked together on. We had spent the past three years gaining separate performance experiences, resulting in bodily experiences that were very different. Akram taught us to work and be creative together using the unique energy, tension and love that comes with being a twin. _ITMOI was also challenging as the tour was highly demanding; we had to deal with performing whilst jet lagged, tired or sometimes slightly not at our physical best. It was beautiful challenge that brought the company closer together.

If you could collaborate with any other choreographer who would it be?

Hard to say just one so Dana Foglia, Edivaldo Ernesto and Crystal Pite.

What advice would you give to dancers who have just graduated?

A trick we had was to audition for a company we knew we wouldn’t get into. This helped us gain experience and confidence in an uncomfortable situation, which then helped us to deal with pressure when we did the auditions that we really wanted.

Discover your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t just audition for the big scale companies, go for the smaller companies, international companies or create opportunities of your own. Research which companies/artists inspire you – they don’t have to be the same as everyone else – as long as you are inspired that is gold and will give you the strength to continue to learn.

Book a class with Alleyne Dance here

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