Beyond the Stage: LIPA graduate Micheala Munden’s experience with Dance Consortium

Providing career development opportunities for young people is a key part of our Learning and Engagement programme. Through our relationship with Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts we have provided students with an opportunity to join and work on Dance Consortium’s tours.

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Connecting with audiences beyond the stage is at the core of the Consortium’s work. We provide learning and engagement events alongside each tour, so audience members can grow their knowledge and love of dance. Much of our learning and engagement activity focuses on connecting young people with dance, with the aim of inspiring the next generation of dancers, choreographers, artists, programmers and more.

We are dedicated to supporting talent development by providing career development opportunities. For instance, our relationship with the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts has allowed us to provide their management students with an opportunity to join and work on Dance Consortium tours. We caught up with one of their students, Michaela Munden, to find out more about their experience working with Dance Consortium.

Which tour did you work on with Dance Consortium, and what did your role involve?

“In March 2019, whilst in my first year studying Management of Music, Entertainment, Theatre and Events at the Liverpool Institute for Performing arts, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to join Dance Consortium on the Pepperland Tour with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Reflecting on my time, this was one of the most valuable real-life learning experiences I have taken part in.

“I joined the tour at The Lowry Theatre in Salford and then travelled with the company to The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford. During my time with Dance Consortium, my primary role was to support Jo Valentine (Tour Coordinator) and Jen Rossi (Company Manager) and aid them in their daily tasks. Jo also set up opportunities each day for me to talk to different crew members, theatre workers and the cast to understand their job roles and how they supported the Pepperland tour.

“I spent time with the Technical Manager on a get-in day, learning about lighting, sound and even helping build the set. Although the technical element of theatre wasn’t my main interest, learning these skills has benefited me in my future career. Jo taught me that understanding and appreciating each person’s work on tour is one attribute that makes for a good tour coordinator. You must be aware of everything that is going on around you as, if anything goes wrong, you need to understand the problem and help resolve it. Therefore, while I was with Dance Consortium, I learnt a plethora of different skills, all of which have been transferable to every creative industry I have gone on to work in.”

What key skills did you gain from this experience?

“A critical lesson I learnt whilst on tour was that, however small you may think a task might be, you must complete that task to the best of your ability. I learnt that each small task is contributing to and supporting a wider cause. Even going on a shop run to get snacks for the dancers, which is seemingly insignificant, would ensure that the dancers had healthy snacks available daily and allowed them to maximise their resting or rehearsing time. There is never too small a job when you’re on tour, as everything works together allowing for the tour to run smoothly and effectively.”

What was a highlight from this experience?

“The whole team at Dance Consortium and the Mark Morris Dance Group offered me the most amazing learning experience. Every person I spent time with appreciated that I was there to learn and, no matter how busy they were, they found time in their day to speak to me. A particular highlight for me was the ‘Get-in day’ at The Alhambra Theatre, where I was able to meet the musician who played the theremin (electronic musical instrument) in the performance. They came in to show me how the theremin worked and let me have a go at playing the instrument. In this way, not only did I learn all about the technical and logistical elements of putting on a tour, I also got the unique experience of learning how to play a musical instrument – which was really fun!”

Why do you think it is important for young people to have opportunities like this?

“This experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to pursue a career within the arts, especially if they are interested in dance or theatre. There is a vast difference between learning about putting on a tour in a classroom and getting the chance to experience one in real life. Within today’s climate, I feel that it is more important than ever to gain real-life work experience.”

How do you feel this experience has helped to support you preparing to work in the industry?

“Every single skill and lesson I experienced whilst on tour has benefited me in my career development. I am now working in the television industry, and have found that my entry-level role is not too different from the work I was doing with Dance Consortium. I am working closely with the whole crew on set and ensuring everyone else’s days are running as smoothly as possible, which echoes my key understanding that I developed during my time on tour with Dance Consortium, that no task is a small task, but is working towards a bigger picture.”

A huge thank you to Michaela Munden for taking the time to share her experience supporting Dance Consortium with Mark Morris Dance Group’s tour of Pepperland. We are continuing to explore our learning and engagement programme over on our social media. Connect with us @DanceConsortium.