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Aspiring dancers take the lead from the pros

Former student Kayleigh Fisk is now a professional dancer with Fertile Ground

A former Sunderland College student who is now a talented professional dancer returned to her roots to help inspire the next generation of dancers.

The college welcomed back Kayleigh Fisk, aged 22, who is now a dancer with Fertile Ground, the North East’s first professional graduate dance company.

Kayleigh, of Carley Hill, spent five years at Sunderland College and completed her BTEC First Diploma and National Diploma in Dance, and went onto gain a BA (Hons) degree in dance at the University of Sunderland.

After graduating, Kayleigh toured the UK with DUSC Dance Company and has performed locally at a variety of high profile venues including the Stadium of Light.

The gifted performer and her Fertile Ground colleagues led a contemporary dance workshop with BTEC and foundation degree dance students at the college’s brand new Visual and Performing Arts facilities at Bede campus .

Kayleigh, who joined Fertile Ground two months ago, said: “Returning to Sunderland College felt like normality, the dance and performing arts department always have a welcoming atmosphere.

“Delivering a workshop to the students offered me the chance to show them there are opportunities for dancers in the North East and I was very pleased with how productive and hard working the students were. It makes me proud to have studied at such a brilliant college.”

The workshop focused on specific contemporary techniques and students took part in a range of creative tasks, culminating in group performances.

Emma Kernohan, a performing arts lecturer at the college, said: “The dance department at Sunderland College are delighted to support and engage with the new dance company and apprenticeship programme. This supports graduate students and gives local dancers the opportunity to extend their dance portfolio in a professional capacity.

“The company delivered an excellent workshop and fully engaged with the students, raising learners expectations and realising new employment opportunities in the North East region.”

Fertile Ground has agreed an ongoing residency at the college’s Visual and Performing Arts building which features four bespoke dance and drama studios and a 220-seat theatre.

The dance company, made up five young graduate dancers, has also joined forces with some of the region’s leading cultural and heritage venues on an exciting new programme.

Fertile Ground will bring dance to new and unusual settings, including Bede’s World, The Customs House, The Bowes Museum, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art and The Maltings.

As part of Fertile Ground’s ethos, the dance company is working closely with education partners, such as Sunderland College, to offer dynamic performance and participation experiences for young people across the region.

Dora Frankel, artistic director, said: “Fertile Ground offers dance opportunities to some of the region’s most talented young dancers to work, train and perform intensively with outstanding guest teachers and choreographers. By developing our dancers and choreographers we hope to see a real increase in the number of artists staying in the region over the next five years, forming new artistic constellations, inspiring children and young people and increasing appreciation and understanding of contemporary dance in the North East.”

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