Three leading female choreographers from the world of dance and musical theatre led intensive workshops with students at Edge Hill University.

Covering a breadth of styles and influences, multidisciplinary artist Kerry Nicholls, artistic director of Creation Box London Rachel Kay, and former Ballet dancer Sally Marie who now runs Sweetshop Revolution, led the sessions with first, second and third year students.

Over the course of a week Rachel used her teaching method ‘Flight Mode’ which encourages students to improvise movement based on posed questions, conversation and vocalised movements.

A keen advocate of dance therapy after her father suffered a stroke, Rachel said:

“Through my facilitation method ‘Flight Mode’ the main attributes I hope to contribute or install within the environment I create is respect, honesty and drive. Through these three core values, I can hopefully create a space for each individual student to grow, develop, learn and ultimately gain respect for others and most importantly themselves. In turn, I hope they can carry these lessons into further education and life.”

Working with the University’s EdgeFWD and 3rd Edge Dance Companies, Rachel helped the students create Soundwave, an energetic piece responding to layers of sound. Rachel added:

“All the students brought their raw and untapped energy into the room. I also experienced a very mature approach to my work and they fully inspired my thinking, informed my work in a new way and brought a youthful energy to my ongoing Love Letter series, an energetic work responding to the internal and external rhythms of their human canvas.. I thought the students were truly inspiring and filled my days with joy. The Edge Hill campus is beautiful, and I’d like to return to continue my research and development in the field I’m currently working in.”

Choreographer Sally Marie, who created two contemplative female led dances, Cherry Pops and Frozen in 2016, worked with the students on a drama-based work about death.

Featuring students each making solo responses to death as they arrive at heaven’s check in desk, the piece explored the dark elements of death with humour. Dance Lecturer Debbie Norris, said:

“We’re really privileged to have three of the country’s leading female choreographers visit us at Edge Hill. Their visits are significant as there are ongoing debates and conversations within the arts sector about female choreographers and directors. There’s just not enough of them.

“By bringing Kerry, Rachel and Sally to the University, the students can experience their varied talents and extensive industry knowledge. They do this not only by gaining new ideas and creative direction but by also gaining an understanding of how the industry works and the particular challenges faced by women.”

Find out more about the University’s Performing Arts programmes here