A day in the life of a CAT student by Danielle Pollitt-Walmsley

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7:15 the alarm clock rings. I drag myself out of bed knowing that I need to prepare for the long day ahead of me, but I know it will be worth it. I rush into the shower. 7:30; I go downstairs for breakfast, 2 pieces of toast and an apple. 7:55; I put my hair into a bun, make my dinner and pack my bag. 8:45 time to go.

This is just the start of my Saturday at CAT; before I even arrive it is a hectic morning. Luckily, I live close to the Lowry; people may ask me at school why I do it, or tell me that Saturdays are for lie-ins, but the amazing experience that CAT provides you with means that some people wake up at 4:30 to get to class on time.

By 9:15 I am at the Lowry, I go up to the studio with everybody and start to warm up, you may think that warming up isn’t important or doesn’t matter. However this is the time to prepare you for everything that is to come. In order to gain the maximum use out of the class you need to go in focused and knowing what you want to achieve.

We get the opportunity to work with experienced dancers who have trained in prestigious schools worldwide. In CAT you don’t only gain the experience of working with amazing teachers and musicians but you also learn to respect dance in appreciation, and question the boundaries of dance.

On Saturdays we have three classes in the morning; ballet, contemporary and Pilates. The first class last 1 hour 30 minutes and the other two last for 1 hour 15 minutes. In this time we do various exercises to help us to grow as dancers and work on something to improve our technique. All of the classes also support us as an all-round dancers and all the skills we learn in each class can be transferred to the other classes and to performance too.

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In my time in CAT I have performed at Whitworth art gallery in an exhibition, been involved in a dance film, worked with amazing professional companies, such as Rambert, Phoenix, Random dance and learned many different styles of dance including Tai Chi and Capoeira. In the future I know that CAT will support me to decide what to do and help me to choose the next steps in my education and training.

It isn’t easy, but everything that you do impacts you and your future, it expands your knowledge and lets you experiment with your body and learn and grow as a dancer. You need to be prepared and very dedicated and be able to balance school work and exams with dancing. However Bob, the physio gives you exercises to help to keep your body safe and minimise injuries. The CAT scheme helps you to reach your potential and learn and create in a way that you would never do without the scheme.

The advice that I would give to any dancer thinking of joining CAT is to gain all the experience that you can; watch as many shows possible and learn as many styles of dance, and stretch the boundaries of what dance is. Never be afraid to fall over and make mistakes in class as that is the only way that you will learn.