Jodie Cole

Choreographer. Movement Director. Independent Maker. Facilitator. 

What made you want to go into your career path? 

 

Life at home was sometimes challenging when I was a child. Weekly after school dance classes were a place of escape for me, where I found my confidence, had fun, got to dress up in amazing costumes for yearly shows, and made my closest friends. My instinct told me that moving and dancing would be a way to maintain a good mental health and a positive sense of myself throughout life. 

 

Did you always think you’d go into this career? How does it compare to how you thought it would be? 

 

Yes and no. I always dreamed of dancing, but when I studied dance at university, I started to see that it wasn’t an easy to road to take, especially if you didn’t have financial back-up from your family, which I didn’t have. I’ve taken a very long and slow path to get where I am, but I wouldn’t change it. The industry can be very tough, but it can also be incredibly rewarding, connecting, and beautiful. I’m a firm believer in taking one simple step at a time, and finding ways to take the rough with the smooth.

Some days I want to give up. Other days I feel very lucky to be doing what I’m doing. It's important to have a good network of friends and colleagues for those more difficult days.

 

How was life at school?

I lived in 6 or 7 different homes when I was at school and ended up in a hostel for young homeless people for 6 months before I went to university, so school was very complex for me. I was a hard and committed worker, but sometimes external influences affected my studies, which wasn’t understood by many of my teachers. My evening dance classes always supported me, however, and were a place of rest and respite, with adults I could trust. At school, I excelled in Drama and Languages, and found Sciences and Maths tough. I was fortunate enough to have a drama teacher who really supported me and celebrated me, meaning that pursuing the path of performing arts felt possible for me. 

 

How did you get into your career?

I did a BA Hons in Dance Performance at Middlesex University. This is not considered a prestigious place for dance training, but I’m really glad I took the university route, rather than a conservatoire (an institution dedicated to training only in dance, or drama, or music). I needed a relaxed approach to my training, as I had low confidence, and the uni course provided a more gentle atmosphere. I had some of the best times of my life there. I went on to train at London Contemporary Dance School, a conservatoire, directly after this, for 1 year. I then freelanced as an inclusive community dance teacher for 10 years, before embarking on an MA Movement: Directing and Teaching at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, which was a springboard for me, into making my own work and working on theatre shows in London and beyond. All my studying came with government subsidies, scholarships, and hardship funds. This financial support is great, and available, if you don’t have much money to support your studies. 

What do you enjoy most about it?

I love being able to use my skills and something I love to make a difference in more than just entertainment. I love doing something different almost every day. I love stirring people's emotions with art . I love speaking loudly about being a working-class artist. I love expressing my truth, I love moving with other bodies in space and making magic happen. It’s a real privilege. I love seeing people make new discoveries in their bodies. I love blasting up the rules books that come with dance, and showing people that anyone can dance if they want. 

 

What are your ambitions?

 

My ambition is to make a large-scale, intergenerational, dance theatre piece on Margate Main Sands, that uses the sand and the sea, and includes EVERYONE in the area who wants to dance, or to make dance, or to be involved in any which way in performance making. 

 

My second ambition is to blast through the stark inequalities that currently exist within the arts, and be a part of the vital change that urgently needs to happen for the arts to be more interesting, accessible, and equal.

 

 

Tell us a fun story about your work  

I was co-movement directing a show with a friend recently, and she asked the actors to get into a clump, a clump is like a pile of people all squished together in one small space, when they didn't understand what she was asking them to do, she said very loudly "like a big pile of poo". It made me laugh out loud. It can be a joyful challenge finding ways to communicate with performers. 

Jodie B&W (8 of 23) copy.jpeg

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