Dance graduates take centre stage at Lithuanian festival

Performing their solo work to an audience of 10,000 was an ‘unbelievable’ experience for two Dance graduates from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

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Emma and Hatti at Studfestas with Associate Professor in Dance Sally Doughty

Hatti Dawson and Emma McBain represented DMU at Studfestas in Lithuania, a popular conference with a festival feel, aimed at students considering their higher education and career options.

The opportunity - part of the #LoveInternational campaign to grow DMU’s global outlook, celebrate its diversity and ensure it remains a welcoming place for international study - gave the two graduates a new platform for their choreography.

Hatti performed her contemporary hip hop piece called The Fragility of Power, an exploration of how strength and power can reveal both fragility and risk, which recently won the International Young Choreographer award in the Ukraine.

The 22-year-old from Wiltshire said: “It was a flying two-day trip, but the experience we gained from it was unbelievable. Performing my own choreography internationally to 10,000 people was honestly everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

“Once I finished my performance I looked around the audience and hearing the applause and watching phone lights swaying was incredible. I will never forget it and I’m immensely appreciative of this opportunity and what it has taught me.”

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The packed Studfestas arena

Performing her hip hop and contemporary fusion called Elements, Emma’s focus was on the shift in dynamic quality from slow to faster movements, ensuring they rippled out to the audience.

“I don’t think it fully sunk in until just before I went on stage. It’s just one of those feelings you can’t put into words,” said the 21-year-old from Lincolnshire.

“It was kind of life-changing too, helping me to put into perspective what I’ve already achieved and what I could achieve in the future.

“I’m so grateful to DMU and humbled.”

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The two graduates also had the chance to perform at a local high school in front of a smaller, more intimate audience.

Hatti said: “It was eye-opening as their schools work very differently to the UK.

“I got a huge reception and it was both humbling and interesting to hear why the students enjoyed it, given that the hip hop scene in Lithuania is so different to ours.”

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Hatti on stage at Studefestas

Since graduating with a First this summer, Hatti has set up Panthera Dance Company in Wiltshire, teaching around 120 students a week. She is also auditioning for various shows and creating her own touring company to showcase her choreography.

“I hope to get more opportunities like the trip to Lithuania in the future. DMU helped me get to the fortunate position that I’m in now, so I’m more than happy to continue to represent the university throughout my career,” she said.

Also graduating with a First this summer, Emma is in the early stages of setting up her Interference Dance Company in Leicester, while teaching in secondary schools across Lincolnshire.

She said: “I’m trying to put dance back into the school system. It’s such an important medium for self-expression. It’s a way of letting go – of losing and finding yourself at the same time.”

Posted on Friday 23rd November 2018

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