Lerwick dancer to take the stage in Burns epic

Kathryn Spence. Click on image to enlarge.
Kathryn Spence. Click on image to enlarge.

Lerwick lass Kathryn Spence has been selected to take part in a national performance of Tam o’ Shanter as part of the Homecoming Scotland 2009 celebrations.

Community arts student Kathryn, 20, was asked to dance with Scottish youth dance group YDance, who are jointly presenting the show with the Scottish Youth Theatre and the National Youth Pipe Band of Scotland.

The Tam o’ Shanter tour, unlike other YDance professional dance projects which are selected through audition processes, was invitation only, making participation all the more special.

Kathryn already had links with YDance, having gone to Sweden with them earlier in the year on an exchange programme with a Swedish university and training with them in the summer.

As one of the dancers in the Robert Burns spectacular Kathryn will be on stage during most of the performances, which will demand strength, stamina and flexibility: “It’s definitely going to be a lot of hard work. It will be great fun though.”

Fortunately she is very fit, having been kept running round at her summer job in the museum’s Hay’s Dock cafe restaurant.

Performances of Tam o’ Shanter will take place next month in suitably atmospheric settings at Stirling Castle, Eden Court Theatre, Inverness and Haddo House, Aberdeenshire. “ I’m really looking forward to performing in these prestigious settings. I’m really excited about going on tour, I’ve never done that, and I’m excited to be part of Homecoming.”

The contemporary dance which the group will perform will, she said, be a “strong part” of the performance, which is based on Burns’ epic poem about devils, demons and warlocks and witches. Strange as it may seem rehearsals have not started properly yet, although the performers had a practice week at Easter when pipers, actors and dancers all worked together.

However rehearsals will start in earnest on October 5th, when all the cast have been asked to make themselves available between 9am and 10pm every day until the show starts less than two weeks later. Exhausting it may be but Kathryn expects to enjoy it: “It will be very intense but when I was training in the summer we danced all day from 9am to 5pm. The first few days were tiring but I thrive on it being tired – I like pushing my body, I’m not one to give up when I’m tired.”

And she expects the tour to kick-start her career: “I hope it will open doors for me and it will look great on my CV, especially if I go on to do a career in community arts, which I am hoping to do.”

Kathryn said she has always enjoyed dancing in all its different forms. When she was younger she learned Highland dancing with Diane Smith and baton twirling with Caroline Bulter, taking part in many competitions, as well as doing tap, contemporary and modern.

Kathryn is now about to start her third year of degree studies at the University of Strathclyde, a course that involves various art forms (art, music, dance and drama) and how to work with different groups with these subjects.

Kathryn said: “It’s about bringing people together through the medium of the arts. With this I have been working in Easterhouse in Glasgow through placements in order to give me experience.” This involved dance workshops to get young people active and family art days to bring families together – initiatives which she said worked really well.

Kathryn is now specialising in dance in her course and her performance in Tam o’ Shanter will undoubtedly help in this.

YDance is now in its 21st year and is aimed at getting young people from age three to 21 active and creative through dance. It works in a variety of styles including hip-hop and ballet, but mostly contemporary. For booking: www.ydance.org


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