Creatives in the Industry: Q&A w/ Parwinder from STEP

STEP trainee Parwinder shares her experience working at Sadler’s Wells and emphasises the importance of making time for creative hobbies

27 January 2023

Tell us about yourself

My name is Parwinder and I’m based near Stratford in London. I am currently a trainee at Sadler’s Wells, until July 2023 – doing a dual placement where I will be spending the first six months in the Learning and Engagement department and the next six months in Programming.

I usually work in the office, helping with coordination, logistics, documents and research, but I also get to do more hands-on stuff, such as being a coordinator whenever I get a chance to go into schools around the country. Along with the artists I deliver dance workshops with the aim of reaching as many kids as possible through the NYDC (National Youth Dance Company) at Sadler’s Wells.

Do you have any interesting hobbies related to your work?

Yes, I started getting into dance approximately a year ago, although I always wanted to learn ever since I was little. I used to watch dance competition shows and people dancing to my favourite songs on YouTube. I enjoy painting too and have always been inspired by music; so I was thrilled by the idea of being able to learn to dance, and a year later, work in a performing arts theatre.

What did you want to be when you were growing up? Can you briefly describe your journey?

When I was little, I first wanted to work as a cashier, I loved the ‘beep’ sound they made. I even had a cash register toy!

I always studied hard with the aim of getting the best grades, influenced mainly by my traditional family’s high expectations. I studied in Italy as I used to live there, and at the age of around 14/15 I started a course called ‘Relationi Internazionali’, which translated in English to ‘International relations’, a five-year course made up of 15+ subjects. I only managed to complete 2, before I moved to London at the age of 16.

However, I always loved anything artistic even though I didn’t really have opportunities to explore or develop those skills back then. I used to sit at home and draw from children’s clothing magazines (whenever I wasn’t studying or reading). Growing up in a strict family house meant that activities outside of school were very limited, but maybe it was a blessing in disguise. I was, in a way forced to find an escape while being inside the house, through pencil and paper.

A couple of years after moving to London, I was able to study arts (BTEC) and then go to university. I never thought I would be working where I am now, but thanks to a series of chance and intentional events, I am now working in a field that I am interested in related to a hobby that I love to pursue as a career.

What is your most memorable moment from this experience and why?

Some of the shows I get to watch at Sadler’s Wells have been the most memorable moments from my placement so far, with the most recent one being the English National Ballet performance. I was completely mesmerised by the ballet dancers and music (including the live orchestra), making it an almost meditative experience. Being able to watch such a variety of shows is really helping me re-learn what dance can be, and being exposed to different styles of dance (ballet, contemporary, hip hop) inspires my dance training and drawing practice outside of work.

Another favourite show of mine was this year’s National Youth Dance Company final show, Quartier Paradis, a breath-taking piece of contemporary work I had the pleasure to watch back in September 2022. It was a unique experience because I got to watch the show come together, since I started my placement in July.

What is your favourite project that you’ve worked on during this experience, and what makes it stand out for you?

My favourite project I’ve worked on so far at Sadler’s Wells was probably the recruitment of dancers for ‘Cohort 11’ of the National Dance Youth Company. When I joined the company, I found myself halfway through the process of recruitment, and I had the chance to visit some of the schools around the country with my team – where I watched the ‘audition’ process and then the final auditions where Wayne McGregor and his assistants were also present. It was such an amazing experience to see how the dancers were picked, from around 80 people down to 30! It was so inspiring to see so many talented young people (16-21) perform in such a fearless and confident way.

What are some key learnings that you can share with our audience?

While working at Sadler’s Wells, I’ve learnt the importance of building good relationships with other people in your chosen industry, and the importance of people when it comes to reaching your career goals. Moreover, it’s good to expand your network to people that might not directly work in your field but are still part of the team in the bigger scheme of things. In my case, people who assist in the making and preparation of a show, such as catering, stage door, housekeeping and so on. It’s always interesting having conversations with anyone in the building and to listen to their story, because I never know who I could meet.

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