My Unexpected Journey: Friday Reads

Hi, I’m Ellie. Having lived in Gloucester for the majority of my life, you realise that there were very few opportunities for young creatives. So like the majority of Gloucester students at the time, I couldn’t wait to get out of here, and I packed my bags and went to London to study Professional Dance and Musical Theatre.  

I had the best 3 years in London. But trying to live the high London life whilst being a poor student is like chalk and cheese… it just doesn’t work! After graduating with a 2:1, and accepting the fact I couldn’t afford to stay in London, I moved back to Gloucester. I felt like I had taken 10 steps back in my career but then something unexpected happened…

I came across a company called Strike A Light, who were looking for volunteers for their festival. Having read about Strike A Light & their sister organisation GL4, this sounded right up my street and thought it would be a good way to make connections within the arts in Gloucester (which I didn’t know existed until this)!! From this came an opportunity which I never thought in a million years would exist in Gloucester. Strike A Light were looking for a Youth Dance Intern to assist in the delivery of dance sessions in local primary and secondary schools. This is where my journey really began with Strike A Light.

I was assisting teaching 1 day a week with teachers from Rise Youth Dance, who are based in Bristol. I learnt so much about teaching and about myself through this internship role, and kept looking for new ways of how my journey could continue with Strike A Light. 

Fast forward to the last 6 months…

An opportunity came up for a Marketing and Admin Intern for Strike A Light & GL4, something I hadn’t had any experience in, but always had an interest for. So I went for it and got the job! In the last 6 months my life has completely changed. I went from teaching 1 day a week, to working full time for Strike A Light & GL4 as well as continuing teaching dance in local schools. 

The career support I have had from Strike A Light has had such a positive impact on my life. This is a company that believes in me and is always looking for new opportunities to help me in the development of my career. One of these opportunities is the Rise Traineeship. Through my Youth Dance Internship, I made a good connection with Rise Youth Dance. They offer a traineeship for young people aged 18-25 to support them in their career. Having had many conversations with myself whether this was the right thing for me to do, Strike A Light really believed that it was and encouraged me to apply for the course. I am so glad I listened to them as the course has not only made me a better dancer, but I have gained so much new knowledge about facilitating and teaching dance within schools, it has really taken my teaching and skills to the next level! Check out Rise Youth Dance’s website here

Teaching children in Gloucester has been the most rewarding experience. Not only can I see my own personal development as a teacher, but I can see the positive impact dance has had on them. I feel privileged to be given this opportunity to make an impact in the community. Growing up in Gloucester, dance was not accessible to all. But being part of the development of the arts in Gloucester is something I never imagined to be possible.

When I moved back to Gloucester after University, it was only meant to be a temporary situation. When I found Strike A Light & GL4, I said to myself “take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way”, and I believe that is exactly what I’ve done.

Ellie Maynard