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    Dance graduates set to take China by storm

    Two Middlesex University dance graduates are off on a trip of a lifetime to China – to perform at a prestigious Beijing venue.

    Darja and Harshil perform their duet of Forest

    Darja Guzikova and Harshil Chauhan, who both graduated this summer, have been selected to dance at the Beijing Dance Academy's 60th anniversary celebrations in October 2014.

    They will perform the Forest duet, an excerpt from a much longer dance choreographed by Robert Cohan CBE that is based on the sense of unmeasured time one can experience in a forest.

    The pair come from very different backgrounds, both culturally and in terms of their dance background.

    Darja, who is originally from Lithuania but now lives in Stratford, was involved in gymnastics while growing up and studied BA Dance Studies at Middlesex.

    Harshil, who graduated with a BA Dance Performance degree, is originally from India but now lives in Ilford. He is a trained Bollywood dancer and also practised karate for 12 years, winning multiple championships in India.

    During rehearsals the pair were mentored by Cohan, the first Artistic Director of the Contemporary Dance Trust, London and as such the founding Artistic Director of The Place, London Contemporary Dance School and London Contemporary Dance Theatre – which he directed for 20 years.

    Both students have talked about how lucky they both feel to have worked with Cohan and to have been chosen to represent their university.

    Darja, 22, explained: "This is such a huge opportunity for us, and a fantastic step on the ladder to having professional dance careers.

    "We're a bit nervous, as we'll be representing the whole University as well as the Dance course - but we're also really excited to take on the challenge!"

    Harshil, 20, emphasised that in order to do their performance justice, the pair will have to fully embody the feelings and emotions of the piece – not just be technically correct.

    He continued: "When we're dancing, it's so important we really feel and smell the forest all around us. To give the best possible performance, you need to be breathing and communicating with each other all the time – really inhabiting and being present in the space.

    "One of the biggest challenges is to marry the technical aspects of dance with that embodiment of the work."

    Darja and Harshil are both considering taking their professional dance careers forward in the form of Masters degrees or equivalent vocational training.

    Photo: Andrew Lang

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