Catarina Lau – BA (Hons) Dance Theatre graduate

Current employer: B:spoke Arts Collective

Current job title: Co-founder and Artistic Director

Current location: Exeter

“During my third year we took on a professional development module. I utilised this opportunity and emailed what feels like every dance company in London. I was humbly given the opportunity to intern with Leila McMillan Dance; this is one of my favourite experiences.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Even though I had officially graduated, I didn’t feel as though I had left university. This was because I was fortunate enough to have been selected to tour my final piece alongside a select few graduates from my year group. Following this, I was awarded a bursary that took me to Berlin where I undertook a residency with Adam Benjamin and the inclusive company Tanz Fäng. Returning to the UK I began working as a youth dance teacher for the local council. But I missed performing, so I decided to start my own company.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Honestly, it is myself. Being self-employed you have to be organised and self-motivated 100 per cent of the time. Because I want to succeed so passionately, I can become disillusioned when things don’t happen instantly. This is something I am working on.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

The first professional performance piece B:spoke Arts Collective made. We collaborated with a live musician and a film-maker and performed at the Cygnet Theatre, Exeter, to a packed audience. Taking our bow was the most rewarding moment; we looked at each other as one company and we were just so proud that we had made this happen.

Also, this year I travelled to Hong Kong to begin an international project between B:spoke and Community Dance Company, Crescendo HK. I led a series of dance workshops and in return learnt traditional Chinese dances from them. This is the beginning of a very exciting journey.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Be strong, be realistic, but never stop working towards your dream. I understand that suggesting being realistic but also to dream could come across as confounding variables, but I believe that you should dream big, but take realistic steps. Otherwise you will overwhelm yourself and become disappointed when you’re not living ‘the dream.’

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth has helped massively in my career. I can’t put into words how much support I have been given over the duration of my course, and the continued support I receive today. I know that whenever I am stuck, the lectures on the dance theatre course will be there with open arms to help me out. Or even when things are going well, I can just pop in and have a catch up. That is extremely rare.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

During my third year we took on a professional development module. I utilised this opportunity and emailed what feels like every dance company in London. I was humbly given the opportunity to intern with Leila McMillan Dance; this is one of my favourite experiences. Being able to learn a new dance technique (flying-low) and learning how to work as an independent dance company was invaluable. I also got a job offer with a fabulous dance company in London called the People Pile. This was a fantastic boost in confidence and helped in my development as a professional dancer.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

In my second year we engaged in a performance module that allowed the cohort to work as a company. We devised a piece together that was directed by Adam Benjamin and performed it in the theatre to an open audience. The experience really sparked my drive to become a professional performer.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

I would highly recommend the dance theatre course at Plymouth University. The content, the lecturers and the support given, even upon graduating, is of the highest quality. Though challenging at times, the course provides you with the skills you need to succeed in the real world.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Take advantage of your position as a student; you have some of the best lectures in the country, so pick their brains. Also just enjoy every second of your time as a student.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying dance theatre, please visit our BA (Hons) Dance page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Humanities and Performing Arts, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other alumni from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities are currently doing, please visit the art, design, media and performance interest area.