Meet the Team: Colleen Joseph
Community Engagement Coordinator / Artistic Director of Lotus Youth Dance Company
How long have you been working with Greenwich Dance?
I have been working as an Artist for Greenwich Dance for about a decade... Haha!
You are Artistic Director of lotus and one of our dance artists who goes out on our schools projects, but you have also recently come into the office itself and started running our NRgDance programme from behind a desk. Tell us about how that has felt - seeing things from a different perspective?
It has been quite a transition and not the kind I'm used to, which includes a stage, lighting and bunch of dancers! It has been a real challenge to compartmentalise and be on both sides of the coin, but has been super inciteful. Just sitting still at a desk without dancing around the room is tough.. lol! Luckily, our office outwardly approve of the odd afternoon stretch or spontaneous freestyle.
As a dance artist with Greenwich Dance you are on the frontline, working closely with young people and seeing the magic happen before your eyes. Can you share any moments you feel most proud of, or things that resonate with you?
To be honest just about every moment with NRgDance feels like magic! We have made huge changes to our programme and I feel fortunate to have been apart of that exciting change so that it really, truly reflects its aims of bringing world class dance to the community. Reaching some of the most challenging areas of the borough and never ceasing to be amazed by the young people we come across. We work our very hardest to delivery a creative and inspiring programme that supports the individual needs of our dancers. Making it both inclusive and enriched in its content. We have just embarked on the delivery of Arts Awards and are loving every minute of it so far.
Your training trajectory is pretty inspirational – can you share that with readers….how did you first realise you wanted to dance and what did you do to get to where you are today?
I began my dance journey after taking a gap year to find my purpose in life, at this point I had no idea that I would in dance. I had been invited to see a graduation show put on by The Urdang Academy London- That was its name in the olden days...Haha! I had that corny light bulb moment and suddenly it all became clear. I begged my mum to let me audition and with little or no idea what I was doing I gave it a whirl. Much to my delight and bemusement all at the same time, I landed myself an offer to attend the three year National Diploma (before the days of degrees) in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre. I struggled in my first year as I had very minimal dance experience and to say it was an adjustment would be an understatement. Funny interlude - Melanie, our CEO, was my very first Contemporary dance teacher... In my second year I flourished and was awarded a full scholarship for the remainder of my time there thus inspiring me to reach for the stars. After leaving college I found my love for Hip Hop Theater and had the honour of working with some of the most incredible companies this country has to offer, whilst also travelling and living the commercial dance dream. I became a part of a kickass, all-female dance group sponsored by Nike. Our mission was to encourage young girls just like us to JUST DO IT! And we did.... this birthed a totally new side of me, making way for a whole new strand to my journey- teaching! I spent many years juggling both professional career and teaching because I was a firm believer of the important benefits of my experience for my teaching. in 2013 I ended my professional career where it began with Zoonation, I decided it was time to "retire" having a nanny in the dressing room of theatre only works until your children reach around 2 years old. Haha! I then went on to work with many Arts Organisations as an Artistic Director of youth dance companies and I adored it! That was it, I never looked back...
You have two small children – is dance a part of their lives? How do you balance being a working mum?
Mum life is 1000% the greatest most precious gift in life. It is also the craziest HASSLE you will ever know...Haha! Shout to all my MAMAS out there. The juggle is real and the days are long but I really do have the best of both. I have job that I quite literally live for and two gorgeous girls to have me on my toes whilst keeping it all the way real!
Best and worst bits of the job?
The best bit of my job is learning and collaborating with the young artists I work with and being able to split my time between a dance studio and office. Working in a flexible working environment that recognises and considers my family commitments. The worst part is there are never enough hours in the day...
What are you most excited about as Greenwich Dance looks to the future?
Consistent and steady growth across all areas of GD. We are developing some insanely exciting opportunities for both young and old. In other words OUR COME BACK! The organisation has been through some challenging times but there is so much to look forward to and what doesn't break you makes you stronger... Right?!