As we mark a year since the UK went into its first Covid-19 lockdown, we are running a series of interviews with dance industry professionals and dancers

Here we talk to dancer-in-training, Jessica Templeton, who is in her second year at one of the most prestigious ballet schools in the world.

Jess Templeton

Tell us a bit about what you do in the UK dance sector?

I am a dancer, who trains mostly in ballet and contemporary. I started taking my dancing seriously aged 13, when I left home to train at a vocational dance school. Since then I have trained four to six hours a day, six days a week and worked extremely hard to maintain the standard I am today. 

Over the past year as a whole, how has Covid affected your day-to-day life with regards to dance?

I still had regular classes through Zoom so was able to see my classmates daily, this helped me remain sociable and motivated. I also loved watching dancers on social media platforms like Instagram as well as watching and learning new ballet solos from YouTube, which I then worked on in my own time. 

What have you missed most with regards to dance?

The thing I have missed the most, is having busy days! I absolutely love getting into bed at night, exhausted and sore, knowing I have worked hard and pushed myself. Over the lockdown, although I still worked hard it was impossible to keep up the workload that I was used to at school. 

How have online/digital channels in particular, helped you to continue dancing this past year?

Social media became more important for me, especially in the first lockdown as people became more active and many teachers and choreographers gave out free online classes over Instagram live. Seeing others working hard from their homes helped me to keep focused and motivated myself and I really felt the dance community came together to support each other. 

Jess Templeton

With regards to dance, what have you done this past year you didn’t previously have time for?

This year, I really focused on fitness. Previously I knew the positive effects of cross training (doing strength and conditioning work) for ballet dancers. But sometimes was not always able to find the time or energy to invest in it. After spending so much time at home, I very quickly devised workout routines that helped build my strength, cardio vascular fitness and further develop my ballet technique. 

How have the UK lockdowns benefited you as a dancer?

I do believe that lockdown was not entirely a negative experience. It has given me a new appreciation for my school’s facilities and teachers as well as realising how important my friends are to me and how I previously took all these things a little for granted. It also gave me time to solidify the basics of my technique and really focus on my self and my own personal development. 

What advice would you give yourself one year-ago today?

I would tell myself to not worry about the situation the world was going through. Although it has been an incredibly tough time for everyone, I’m proud of myself for working through and I would definitely assure myself that everything would work out in the end. 

What would you like to be doing this time next year?

This time next year, I will be in the midst of applying for jobs in a dance company. I hope to be accepted into a well known ballet company and start my professional career as a ballet dancer. 

And finally, with regards to dance, what are you most looking forward to from 21st June 2021?

I’m most looking forward to be able to do open classes again, with a mixture of dancers from many different schools. I love the energy and excitement that comes with taking a new class, meeting other dancers and possibly discovering a love for moving in a different way to what we are used to. I’m also looking forward to returning to the theatres, both to perform and to watch the incredible talent that we have in the U.K, as all of the arts have suffered so much this year and I can’t wait to see all these special and talented people perform again.

Jess Templeton

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