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Anthea Lewis

MA Creative Producing for Theatre and Live Performance

'I’ve been dancing since I was three, and always dreamed of performing on stage.   At 15 I discovered contemporary dance – its freedom and creativity really suited me and I knew I wanted to make it my career.  My family kept saying ‘get your Alevels, have a Plan B’ but I didn’t really want to!

'I went to the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds and graduated with a BA in dance performance, following that with a year on the Professional Studies Programme at the Limόn School in New York.

'I went to Belgium in 2010 to work for SOIT, a company working in dance theatre.  It was exactly the style I wanted to do but as a devised process I realised I wanted to have more creative control of the direction of the work and the material I created. I looked at being a director or choreographer, as these were areas I was beginning to develop, but when I found the Creative Producing MA at Birkbeck I realised this was exactly what I was looking for!

'I hadn’t studied for 10 years, and even then it had been a very practical, dance-based course, with a limited academic element – that was my biggest insecurity and weakness. Birkbeck has a reputation for high academic level, so I came with apprehensions. I did the workshops for study skills to help prepare me but had a lot of self-doubt as I thought I wasn’t capable of reaching their standards. Fleur Rothschild taught us study skills – I really needed more than that, so I had some private sessions when having trouble with essays. It was a crisis of confidence rather than ability. My tutor and course director Andrew McKinnon was amazingly supportive and also helped me to clarify who I wanted to be as  producer.

'Getting an MA has given me a huge sense of achievement; I did better than I thought I would and realised that I am capable of more than I often give myself credit for. My experience throughout this course has taught me a lot about self-belief. I think anything in life requires this, but especially being a producer. Having the conviction of your ideas and belief in your ability to realise them keeps you grounded and enables you to trust your own instinct when going into the unknown; to not be afraid to experiment and take risks.

'I am very passionate about dance and theatre; I now have the tools to help me in creating my vision. I feel more determined and resilient about finding a way to fulfil my commitment to live performance and to create opportunities for others to share in this experience.

'Now I am trying to set up my own company and create projects where I can collaborate with other artists and use my skills as a choreographer, performer and producer. I am currently creating a new solo, ‘Stay With Me Forever’ and have a two week residency in Brussels to develop it further. I am at a stage in my career where my interests are leading me to step out on my own and follow my own creativity and ideas.

'I’ve gained from all the experience of the producers who were part of the course. The tools I learned on the course have given me a safety net of structure and planning, and a network of people I can work with. It’s given me skills and freedom to run with ideas and find a way to make it happen. I have more resources to rely on, which has really given me confidence to experiment.'

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'Getting an MA has given me a huge sense of achievement.'