The Sweetshop Tigers
An apprenticeship scheme for new graduates; originated by Sally Marie.
The Sweetshop Tigers is an ambitious, new and non-monetised apprenticeship scheme initiated by Sally Marie, artistic director of the independent British dance-theatre company Sweetshop Revolution. It is based on a deeply perceived need, for a wide range of valuable experiences to be offered to young UK-based dancers embarking upon a professional career and will involve, among other things, many opportunities for mutually beneficial exchanges with established artists in the dance and performance sector and experience of working as team players; producing elements themselves. We’re extremely excited about it, and trust that you will be too!
Background to the idea for the scheme.
I had the idea for the programme when a new graduate wrote to me asking if Sweetshop Revolution did apprenticeships. In each of my previous dance works thus far, I’ve had a student in for up to a month. And yet in retrospect I did not find this particularly easy due to the change of energy a new person brings to a room over such a long period. This was coupled with the realisation that most independent choreographers aren’t making work every month of the year. So I decided to contact a few independent choreographers I knew and to ask if they would be interested in joining the scheme. As it turns out fifty five of them said yes including high profile choreographers such as Lea Anderson and Charles Lineham as well as lesser known ones. From the audition of one hundred and forty people, nine people were chosen as the ‘core group’ visiting choreographers, with the other people being on the reserve bench, yet an essential part of the rest of the scheme detailed below.
The Reason for the scheme
The main difference I noticed about working professionally as a dancer, compared to taking class each day and working every night in some kind of other job, was ‘connection.’ By that I mean the connection between myself and the company members, audience and fellow professionals. And so I hope with this scheme to help the dancers who may be just starting out in the profession, to feel that they’re part of a team who care about them. In effect, they are being given the opportunity to make new connections, and to start building their own futures by instigating the various projects and leading various strands of the scheme; both from a dance point of view, but also a producing point of view. I am leading on some strands, but the the group itself will all be leading on various others according to their skills.
How the scheme grew from one idea
The scheme had started simply as a way to link up some new graduates with a variety of independent choreographers. And then it occurred to me that it might be great to invite various choreographers in to give a single sunday workshops to the apprentices, so that they get a chance to work and connect with that choreographer in a dance way. And from there came other ideas which will give a more rounded experience to the dancers.
Another aim is to heighten each of the dancer’s profiles. We have started a Facebook page entitled The Sweetshop Tigers and at a later date I myself hope to get a subdomain website for The Sweetshop Tigers, so that we can upload images and interviews with the choreographers (thus heightening the independent choreographer’s profiles as well.)
We are also organising photo shoots for the dancers, working with stylists and makeup artists, getting showreels done and preparing biographies and CV’s. Also, one of the dancers setting up a YouTube Channel for The Sweetshop Tigers as well.
The 12 Point Plan: 2015 – 2016
1 Choreographers – 65 individual choreographers have already volunteered to take part, inviting the Sweetshop Tigers into their studio for between two days and a week. Indeed, some choreographer have already requested dancers for their whole rehearsal period!
2 Dance Buddies – I’ve made a list of those who attended the audition, but did not make it through. The idea is to link them up with well known professional dancers, and for each pair to meet four times a year to work through technical dance movement and plan the training undertaken for each graduate and career goals.
3 Performance. Sally Marie is considering making a show with the apprentices, which will include bringing professionals into the process. The idea is already there but it’s the funding for the professionals that will need addressing.
4 Choreographer’s sessions once a month. The idea is to invite one choreographer in per month to work with the Sweetshop Tigers. They’ll have the chance to try out ideas with fifteen great dancers, and the dancers will have a chance to engage with an artist working on the realisation of particular ideas.
6 Reach Out is our hospital strand and involves taking dance to both young and old in hospitals. It’ll commence with workshops offered free of charge with a view to securing funding in the future to develop a performance for both young and old. Sally Marie herself has some experience of work in this setting as do other members of the group.
7 We will be endeavouring to secure free gym membership for a year for all of the Sweetshop Tigers as well as the company members of Sweetshop Revolution too. This will entail identifying gyms and then going to meet the managers there. A couple of the Sweetshop Tigers themselves will lead on this.
8 Between two and four Sweetshop Tigers will have the opportunity to come to The Edinburgh Festival to flyer for Sweetshop Revolution and two other Welsh companies, with heir travel accomodation paid for. There will also be some database input and a few admin tasks the apprentices can do to support Sweetshop Revolution’s company work as well.
9 At the end of the year, we’ll compile the blogs and photos into a magazine to be published in hard copy as well as a pdf version created with the best sodapdf software online. This will be sent to programmers and industry professionals.
10 Sally Marie will offer each apprentice Life Coaching throughout the year, as she has just qualified in it. It will be useful for goal setting and developing new perspectives.
11 Talks by Simon Ellis and Neil Callaghan about their practice will also be offered.
11 Dance writers are being contacted by Graham Watts to take the Sweetshop Tigers to performances with them. There is also the option for the dancers to be mentored in writing short reviews. The thinking behind this is that it is useful for dancers to be able to articulate thought, feelings, impressions, of both the work of others and themselves.
12 We’re looking for one day a week of free studio space, preferably on a Sunday, to make all of the above possible to achieve. Can you help us with this please?
Some of the choreographers on board so far are Lea Anderson, James Cousins, Sarah Blanc, Alex Reynolds, Stuart James Waters, Riccardo Buscarini, Jo Fong, Joseph Yvan Toonga, Sue Buckmaster, Hagit Yakira, Charlotte Vincent, Renaud Wiser, New Movement Collective LTD, Miranda Mac Letten, Kimberley Harvey, Keira Mari Martin, Léa Tirabasso-Palmitessa, Avatâra Ayuso, Dam Van Huynh, Lucy Ridley, Lucy Suggate, Michael Mikey, J Asante Gillie Kleiman, Wired Aerial, Hubert Essakow, Jack Webb, Robbie Synge, Theo Clinkard, Rick Nodine, Rebecca Evans, Philippe Giraudeau, Leila McMillan Dance, Tony Adigun, Rachel Burn, Kath Duggan, Sean Tuan John, Raymond Chai, Charlotte Alexander and Richard Chappell. There are more choreographers coming board all the time.