Claire Burrell talks about her experiences as an ACE apprentice

Hi everyone, I’m Claire and I’m working as an apprentice dancer with ACE this year.

I’m writing this on the train with a slightly aching body at the end of the first three weeks of the devising and rehearsal of ICE, ACE’s new full-length piece choreographed by Akiko Kitamura, and the weeks have definitely been packed full of exciting and crazy things.

Some of the “crazy” was unfortunately provided by the riots last week, which sparked a lot of tea-break discussion, but the rest was less serious and included ACE company members running and star-jumping up and down Floodgate Street at 10am under the loudly and enthusiastically shouted orders of a man named Ezra, and being bemusedly smirked at by various builders and passers by… It’s always good to provide people with some strange entertainment out on the street I guess!

We’ve had intense floor barre in ballet, lovely yoga classes from Craig at Yoga Haven, Ezra’s strenuous but funny circuit training on Friday mornings (I think we can all be glad it’s not on Monday mornings at least!) and there have even been some old favourites thrown in with classes from Andile Sotiya and Tiia Ourila. Most of the company, including myself, are lucky enough to have benefited from their fantastic teaching during our training so it’s great to have them back.

Alongside these blasts from my not-very-distant past, I am getting to experience a completely new kind of training in the form of classes with choreographer Akiko, who is using martial arts and breathing techniques to draw out a different kind of power in our movement. The idea is to use a quick burst of power and tension and then to release it as soon as possible to create a sharp and strong quality. Everybody is enjoying learning some explosive martial arts fight sequences to practise this and Akiko guides us through long repetitive breathing exercises and some release-based floor work, so that we can use the breath to achieve this efficiency in the movement. It’s a really subtle quality and quite a challenge to give her what she wants since it’s sometimes very different from my own training but there’s still time to keep working at it!

Akiko’s movement is great and the piece is already looking pretty exciting so don’t forget to check out the tour dates and book your tickets!