Youth Steering Group Blog – March 2023

Reflections on the Youth Steering Group Trip to Bushmills by Liberty Rose

I am an older member of DU Dance NI’s Youth Steering Group. I am 24-year-old contemporary dance student at the Irish World Academy in Limerick. I love to dance with people of all ages and abilities. For me, dance has always been an avenue for me to express myself and communicate with the world around me. I believe everyone can dance and has their own unique and beautiful way of moving. I am also passionate about the environment, preserving natural habitats and the species native to these places, especially Irish woodlands. This is what drew me specifically to this environmental dance project.

I recently joined DU Dance’s Cultural Bridge Project on a trip to Leipzig to create a series of short dance films. This is how I became introduced to DU Dance NI and the creative work that they do! (On the Cultural Bridge Project some members of Sutemos, alongside members of Beyond Skin, and a young environmentalist group Die Villa (from Leipzig), spent 10 days in Leipzig, Germany, learning about each other’s cultures, and creating a series of short dance films on the theme of climate change.)

The Youth Steering Group is a place for members from different dance groups of DU Dance NI to meet, connect and share. Members are both female and male, and range in age between 13 to 24 years old. Being a part of the Youth Steering Group involves regular meetings, where we get to discuss the happenings of DU Dance and voice our own ideas and feedback. It allows young people from within the organization to have a say in the way their dance groups are run.

Being a part of the Youth Steering Group has given me an opportunity to connect and dance with some other younger members of DU Dance. I got to hear about their dance experiences and to hear their ideas for future projects.

With this current environmental project, our hope is to share our views about the environment via social media. We want to focus on our personal passion for the environment, and creative ways to spread awareness about the Climate Crisis.

Last month, Mags and a group of eight dancers, including myself, travelled together to Bushmills Youth Hostel to work on this environmental project. We got to meet with the DU Dance’s Marketing Co-ordinator who gave us some helpful information about setting up social media pages, and the most effective way to reach different audiences who the project might appeal to. Personally, I found this discussion very insightful and helped to clarify many unknowns for me when creating dance specifically for social media.

We also spent some time discussing our own ideas, brainstorming and making story boards. We decided to focus on our favourite places in nature, that we have grown up with and love. These are environments that are local to us, that we don’t want to lose because of climate change.

As well as fine-tuning our ideas, we had the chance to explore the beautiful environment around Bushmills. On the first day we went to the beach and found ways to interact with the nature through movement and dance. Some of the younger boys began to run and roll down the sand dunes. After a few minutes, the whole group was jumping and rolling with them. I don’t think I would have thought to do this if I was on my own! To me, this demonstrates the benefit of working with a mixed age group. The younger dancers were more inclined to be playful, and encouraged the older ones to do the same. We had a lot of fun and got some great ideas for our final project.

In the evening we worked some more on our social media pages. We also played some boardgames. There was a lot of laughter and silliness, and we all got to know each other a bit better.

The next day we warmed up together, sharing movements and exercises we liked with the group. We worked in teams to create movement phrases around the theme of the four elements: fire, water, air and earth. We went out to Giant’s Causeway to take some footage of the landscape and of us dancing in different locations.

During the two days, I felt that I got to know the rest of the group very well. I felt very inspired by their enthusiasm, creativity, and playfulness. I am excited for the next stage in our project development, and getting to meet with this lively group again! Thank you again Mags and DU Dance for making this opportunity possible.