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Thato Picks up the Pace at Trinity Laban

Boys Dancing apprentice Thato Malebye recently attended Trinity Laban's 'Pick up the Pace Revisited', a day of dance activity which celebrates 10 years of male dance community participation programmes, and featured films, performances by male dance groups from around the UK and workshops for young men.

Here's Thato's blog of his experiences at Pick up the Pace:

"Around 9:00 a.m. I hear music from Dave McKenna's car as he parks outside my house to pick me up. I think to myself he's early or maybe I'm running late, but either way I'm not quite ready. So once again I'm off to my usual rushed start to the day, frantically trying to make sure I have everything. I finally get myself together and we get on the way. Weather is nice and Dave and myself always find plenty to talk about so the 3 hour long journey flies by.

"Just gone 12:00pm when we arrive at Trinity Laban. As soon as we enter the building we can feel the vibrance in the atmosphere. The sounds of mumbling voices fills the background. There are boys and young men heading to the cafe for lunch after the morning dance workshops with smiles on their faces. Various all-male dance pieces are being projected on screens in the foyer.

"We get ourselves signed in, get our maps of the building and schedule for the day then we are let loose to explore. Our first stop was the cafe for some lunch. We'd barely sat down to eat before somebody recognises Dave and just like that, we switch to work mode; discussing projects, funding and various other things relating to boys dancing. Then it's off the feedback room where I'm instantly asked to be on camera discussing the obstacles that impede boys from dancing, as well as the benefits of having days like these, which cater dance specifically to boys. I must say I felt like I rocked that interview! Then it was off to the studio theatre to watch a few performances. John Ross Company took to the stage and blew us away. The piece was about a boys night out! It was very cleverly choreographed as a retrospective look at the events that led up to the groups opening pose. The seamless and creative use of humour while staying very true to the antics that can be observed during some boys' real-life nights out was incredible.

"As the piece finished it was time for my first class, Contemporary, with Will. This was my first ever purely contemporary class although nothing we did was completely new to me I really enjoyed myself. The atmosphere in the room was very laid back yet challenging. It felt like we had all known each other for sometime.

"Then after a 15 minute break, a workshop with members of Frantic Assembly. Really fun and simple cardiovascular warm up followed by an exercise that challenged the mind and body which gave me ideas for the work I do for Boys Dancing. We worked on some lifts then did some creative exercises focusing on a pedestrian approach to movement, which I really enjoyed.

"Then it was time for the Q&A with our panel of professional male artists, to which Dave and myself were late due to some reason I can't quite remember. The discussion included topics such as going into the profession world, best single advice to give to a young dancer, whether geographical learning environment affects future prospects and many more.

"We had some drinks and snacks at the pre-show drinks reception then made our way to the theatre. The event was brought to a close by performances from various all-male groups of different style and ages. My favourite of which was Edge FWD from Edge Hill University. The piece was dynamic, creative, humorous, very well thought out and put together. Great choreography and a well executed performance. Before I knew it, it was time to go home.

"Pick up the Pace was a great event. One I am very glad I went to, and an experience that will stay with me for some time. I really would encourage other young dancers to go to the event in years to come."