Each month we are going to post an interview with a member of the Dance City team.

This month we went Behind the Scenes With.. our Dance Engagement Coordinator Helen Kumar.

Can you give me a brief overview of what you do at Dance City?
I see my role as taking the ethos of Dance City out of the fantastic building and into the wider communities across the great North East region. From Mini Movers to Dance and Dementia classes (and everything in between) I set up and also deliver projects and workshops to engage people in dance and get them moving!

What is your background? What did you do before you worked at Dance City?
I danced from a young age and went on to do G.C.S.E Dance and Drama, followed by a B-Tec in performing Arts and then a BA Hons Degree in Dance and Theatre Studies. Prior to the role at Dance City I worked for 10 years as Dance Development Officer at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal which involved similar work and also programming dance companies for the multi-purpose arts venue. Before that after graduating I worked in another Arts Centre teaching both dance and drama and have worked as an actress (many a professional panto – generally as a comedy boy!) and a dancer in a Contemporary Company but have always been passionate about teaching.

What’s your favourite part of the job?
I feel very lucky to say that I genuinely enjoy my job! I love meeting new people, coming up with ideas for projects with partners and getting those who say ‘I can’t dance!’ up and moving! I also really love creating performance opportunities and platforms such as Pulse, Boyz Moves Platform and Freedom Moving (events coming up in the next few months) which give people the opportunity to dance on a professional stage. There is something so rewarding about seeing people come off the stage with such a sense of pride and joy! My passion does lie in teaching and delivering dance sessions to any one at any age and always has, I enjoy the creative two way process and believe as much as you lead/teach within a dance sessions, you also learn from the people within your group.
I am also a bit of an organiser so love managing projects and have files for everything! We do have a great team at Dance City too so being in the lovely open plan office and talking about new ideas makes the job great.

What advice would you give someone if they wanted to do a similar role?
This job takes passion and a proactive approach! You need to be able to speak to people openly and honestly and get them enthused about getting involved, you also have to be very organised and able to juggle a number of projects at once. During the summer when I was doing my degree, I asked to shadow a dance artist and assist in teaching to get more experience, it was voluntary and I learnt so much about delivering dance workshops that they actually gave me my first paid workshop after I graduated. Take the time to meet people and ask to shadow them/support projects to get an inside look at how things work, it is all good experience (and most people would love some extra help!).

What hobbies/interests do you pursue outside of work?
I love spending time with my family (now a huge extended family in the North East!) There is always an event or party and lots of home cooked Indian food (which I am trying to learn how to do!). I love going to the theatre and catching up with friends. I have friends dotted round the country so am often driving around in my trusty Nissan Micra visiting people!