Dance Memories with University of Suffolk Dance Student Katie Kilpatrick

Dance Memories with University of Suffolk Dance Student Katie Kilpatrick

Ipswich is so lucky to have been home to the University of Suffolk BA (Hons) Dance course. Students are largely based at DanceEast so connect with a range of practitioners and participants, have access to great dance spaces and experience a variety of dance works. The two-year course, led by Luca Braccia, is innovative, dynamic and relevant to the locality. Sadly, the University has decided to cut the course from the next academic year. It is such a waste of all the intellectual and practical investment that has gone into developing this distinctive and much-needed course.

Katie Kilpatrick, one of the last cohort of students, invited some local dancers to take part in a film project exploring what dance means to them, to clarify her understanding and inspire her practice.

“I wanted to produce a work that would feel honest and genuine. The process is explorative and brings together my experiences as a dance artist – the school I grew up dancing with, the professional artists I worked with during my time away from university and the interest that sparked in me to work with dancers of different ages and abilities. I am finding the process of filming fascinating and am less concerned about whatever final product emerges.”

Katie organised several small groups to work in different iconic locations, to discuss their dance memories and to express their ideas and feeling through improvisation. One Monday morning in November, three of us – all older dancers – met Katie at Landguard Point, Felixstowe. The huge sky was brilliant blue, the sun was shining and the contrast between the open water, distant shores of Harwich and graceful cranes of the port was vibrant and stunning.

After discussing our dance memories, we had to move on from our first site which was too bright for the camera. Having found some rare shade we danced on the sand and shingle beside the slowly in-coming water and the hefty wooden, decked structure that provided the shade. Katie gave us improvised tasks that she filmed. It was glorious. Dramatically, fog rapidly rolled in and wiped out the whole world apart from us, and just as rapidly the world reappeared as the sun broke through.

It was a lovely experience. Katie created a safe space and took care of us while providing inspiration for our improvisations. She did the University proud, and I think exemplified the quality of the course. One of my memories was about how few chances there were to dance when I was younger and how fortunate I am to be able to take advantage of so many more, and more diverse and exciting opportunities now I am older. It was a poignant thought as the fog descended taking with it a last opportunity to work with a University of Suffolk student.

I look forward to seeing the completed film. I hope it brings out the sun and the University finds a way of keeping a connection and contribution to dance in the region.

Jeanette Siddall