Life After Elevate
We often get asked what our previous Elevate graduates have gone on to do after finishing their year with us. Heather Richmond, who graduated from Elevate Dance Company in 2011, shares with us what she has been up to since the course and talks about her latest work as Artistic Director of HeatherWalrondCompany.
I grew up in Devon and trained in gymnastics with a late start to dance at the age of 12. I soon fell in love with it and ended up performing with Plymouth Youth Dance Company for five years, before training with Elevate in London.
My year with Elevate Dance Company was a year full of personal and professional growth. I couldn’t have had a better or more positive year to prepare me for further full time training. I developed ways in which my faith and dance could join together and discover who I was as a leader, teacher, choreographer and dancer. Throughout the year I learnt how to teach dance to all ages, choreograph at a higher level and I developed my performing skills with the company. I also received the opportunity to travel to Texas, USA to train with Ad Deum Dance Company, which was incredible and opened my eyes to the possibility of international opportunities.
I then went on to train at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in 2014. I worked with a variety of choreographers, including Gary Clarke, Charles Linehan, Sharon Watson, Charlotte Spencer and Balbir Singh.
After graduating, I was invited to perform, choreograph and teach for Vou Dance Company in Fiji for four months touring around the Fiji Islands and New Zealand. This again opened my eyes to international opportunities and I was hugely inspired by Fijian dance and culture.
After returning to Devon in November 2014, I felt led to immediately set up my own professional dance company and I wanted to research what makes people feel alive with the aim to be able to bring hope, uplift and empower people of all ages. This was important for me, as I wanted to move audiences and transform people’s lives through my work and to do that, I felt I wanted to get to know people more.
I then researched Fijian dance and culture more using ideas of community, connection and surrender and successfully received funding from Arts Council England to start creating the work with six professional dancers and two musicians.
Four years later and as a company we have received over £100,000 worth of funding and we have toured ‘The Rising’ all over the UK to small scale theatres, to Harare International Arts Festival in Zimbabwe, Africa and displayed our film ‘The Pursuit’ in India. I have also directed two Fijian Residencies in Plymouth with Vou Dance Company and HeatherWalrondCompany, collaborating and engaging over 900 local Fijian’s in Plymouth. We have received consistent standing ovations, sold out audiences and an overwhelming positive response to the work and it isn’t stopping yet.
It has been a very exciting and fulfilled few years and I’ve learnt a huge amount!
I’ve learnt how to lead and run a company at the same time as getting married, learnt how to tour book and organise international work and I have loved watching ‘The Rising’ develop over the years with the phenomenal artists I work with.
In 2018, the company will be developing even further as we take ‘The Rising’ on a UK theatre and Cathedral tour, a European tour to Norway and Serbia and run an International project in Fiji.
Please pray for the company and all that is happening and visit the website below for more information.