Excellence in both academic and dance education flowing side by side.
Today the legend that is Joe Martin (20) leaves London with 2A* & 2A's at A Level under is belt. However this talented dancing red head is heading to Birmingham University to use that brilliant brain of his to study Physics.
I don't have children of my own however as a teacher and director of a youth company, I am blessed to be surrounded by and have many amazing young people in and around my life.
Today I'm feeling a bit sentimental and probably how a proud parent must feel like when their kids grow up and fly the nest. This feeling is now a regular ocurrence for me every few years when my students start new training adventures out of London.
I met Joe, back in 2008 when he was only 13, on a project called 'Launch' I was co-choreographing on at Laban with fellow dance practitioner extrodinaire, Stella Howard.
Stella and myself both took an instant liking to Joe and his buddy Joey Barton who both bounced into the studio, smiling, with bags of energy and buckets of enthusiasm. I remeber them both having ridiculous big hair, especially Joe, not being that fit or having a great understanding about form (interms of dance) however both were eager to 'have a go' and confident they could do it.
So here I need to make an important shout out to Ray Oudkerk (current Deputy Head, Brit school) who back then was Joe and Joeys dance teacher at Forest Hill Boys. Both these lads were lucky to go to this high achieving acadmemic school and meet Ray whose passion to nurture and develop dance skills with young boys is exceptional. Without teachers like Ray in our schools, boys like Joe and Joey would possible never find dance and creative movement. Of course both lads have supportive and open minded parents who have encouraged their dancing.
After 'Launch' I encouraged Joe and Joey to both audition for the Laban CAT Programme, which back then I was working on has Lead Dance Teacher. If you dont know.... this is a National programme with ten centres of excellence around the country (England). I can say this now but I remember Joe wasn't an obvious choice for some of my CAT colleagues. He didn't (and still doesn't) have pointy feet or open hips (me neither for that matter ) however i'm sure Joe has got more out of his experience in dance than many of the kids who 'looked like dancers' and started dancing at four!
When Joe expressed an interest in joining Shoreditch Youth Dance Company I made him audition with his mate Joey, like everybody else. Joe and Joey came as a package so luckily they both got in! Having Joe in SYD Company for the last four years as been an honor. The rest as they say is history, Joe is part of the SYD Family now and as been an inspiration to us all and also to many other professional teachers and choreographers he has been lucky to work with. I have lost count how many times other professionals dancers have said "..the guy with the red hair in SYD...he's brilliant..."
That Joe's dance journey since school, joining Laban CAT and SYD as been a magical one, is an understatement. You can see the magic on his face when he moves, the passion when he challenges and questions creative tasks and ideas, the commitment and attention to detail in his movement when creating ....and boy...... can that lad perform. It as been an absloute pleasure to teach, collaborate and work alongside Joe and be part of his journey.
Joe is proof that you can achieve excellence in both creative arts and academic study with both complementing and supporting the other and the importance and value for educators and parents to allow these choices to remain open for their students and children. Having different interests as a teenager is healthy and if supported they can learn, challenge and dedicate themselves to whatever those passions and hobbies are, no matter how varied, ultimately supporting them to make informed choices for those all important and difficult unversity/career decisions.
For Joe and Joey, still tight and the best of friends, this will be the first time in their lifes they will be on slightly different journeys.
I know the lads have made a pact (probably initiated by Joey! expecting to be a poor dancer....) that Joe will get a 'proper' job and support Joey later in life when he becomes a dancer! ...cracked me up! lol
We could all do with Joe Martin Ginger Legend! :)
Myself, Michaela and all at SYD will miss your energy in the dance studio Joe but we are so happy that your off to put that creative/academic brain to use in the world of Physics.
Hmm...I feel a project brewing! Astronauts dancing in Space....
Big HUG to Jane (Joes Mum) X
Look forward to seeing you dance soon Ginger Legend. It's been