Youngest to oldest: Nasim’s QL2 journey

ED: Nasim Patel started with QL2 in 2011, and is now studying dance at VCA.

What QL2 has given me is more than dance training. QL2 taught me how to create, analyse, and how to free myself from critical thinking.

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I started with QL2 in 2011, in the junior project It’s All Good. I remember my first License to Move class, doubting myself every second beforehand but upon entering immediately felt at home. As soon as I left the studio, I told my auntie “I have to come back here.” I was hungry for a sense of what the company was giving me. More than just how to jump or roll or bend my legs in perfect alignment, it was a sense of working with others collaboratively and without restriction. The class was surrounded by boys I easily recognised as alternate versions of me, with varying degrees of experience. While working on It’s All Good, I realised how all the skills we were learning outside of class had assisted us, and the focus on creativity was clearly needed as soon as we were asked to create material within the project.

At the time, I had no idea how important Ruth Osborne was on the national stage, and that the choreographers I was working with were well established independent artists, not just some dance teacher as I had initially thought.

“It took me years to fully understand the effect that QL2 has had on my life.”

I was asked to audition for the senior project the following year, Me Right Now. It was terrifying from the get go, as I was the youngest dancer in the project, and I felt like I had to prove myself. I felt ecstatic that I was part of a group of such talented people that encouraged difference. Most of them had years of experience and intense training over me, but I was still accepted as one of them. I didn’t share any of their ballet training or ability to do sick tricks, but I was focusing on my own specific abilities and I was respected for that.

Ruth’s guidance throughout all of this was essential. She always made me feel confident in myself, as if she could tell I was very intimidated by the much older group for a long time.

Later that year I was part of the junior project Name Game. Coming into this project was completely different to the previous year, as I was now labelled as a senior. It was here I began to learn the first skills of leadership. Organising the younger kids and assisting wherever I could, even if that was just by showing them how to do a step or shushing them – believe me I did a lot of this. This propelled me into a position where I felt I would do anything I could to become a more skilled artist so I could assist the company wherever I could.

At the end of that year, Luke Fryer and I decided to choreograph a piece together for Hot to Trot: works by Quantum Leapers performed in the QL2 theatre. This was where I first gained an exact sense of how collaborating efficiently could be done. Luke and I are close friends, and choreographing our first piece went very smoothly, as we knew very much how the other worked, and bounced ideas back and forth with ease. Before performing our piece, we had to give a small speech about our piece in front of an audience. I felt relaxed, as I had been provided with a close friend to lean and depend upon when I felt nervous or uncomfortable.

Year by year, these speeches became easier, even by myself. I felt a confidence in my ability to analyse my own work, and describe it to people that may not be very familiar with many concepts within contemporary dance.

Throughout each year in Quantum Leap, I was still often the youngest kid in the group. Although I felt welcome, I still felt intimidated with the skill levels of those surrounding me, and I felt this was limiting my creative and performative mind space. In 2014, I was part of a group of 8 who were invited to travel to Renmark for the AYDF, Bangkok to meet and create work with a close company the Bangkok Dance Academy, London, and Glasgow for the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival. These seven other people are still some of my best friends, and the bonds we formed together will always hold strong. It was at this point I began to look at opportunities further into the future. The work we toured was choreographed by James Batchelor, whose movement style intrigued me greatly.

The seven dancers I had worked so closely with were all planning to audition for tertiary dance institutions in Australia that year, and I realised that would mean the following year they would leave me behind: my seven best friends branching out. I was terrified at first, as I would be the oldest Quantum Leaper in 2015, and no longer be able to directly rely on these other amazing people I had been surrounded by. I was supported through these difficulties by the amazing staff at QL2, who are also very close friends. As Reckless Valour work begun in January, once again with James Batchelor, my sense of loneliness dissolved quickly as I again created strong bonds with the newer Quantum Leapers. I had come full circle, from being the youngest artist in my first Quantum Leap project, to becoming one of the oldest: the Quantum Leaper who had been around the longest. With this role came the responsibility to assist people within the company to feel welcome and comfortable. I tried as hard as I could to make sure I was carrying on the kindness and respect that all the older performers had given to me when little nervous Nasim joined the company at age 13.

“Five years of Quantum Leap easily changed my life.”

These skills of leadership I carry with me wherever I go now. In college and high school, I always felt more confident in myself and my abilities. Public speaking was no longer as intensely nerve wracking as it once was, I felt a sense of ease when being stood up in front of people and asked to speak, by this point I’d done it more times than I could count. In assignments and school work, my process of examination had changed. After my years of training within QL2 of creating and analysing, I had gained an ability to think critically about any material we were required to read or watch within my classes, and could draw a deeper meaning that I would have previously struggled to uncover.

All the while through my years at QL2, I have made friends that I know will last me a lifetime. My international and national friends on the Boundless tour, my friends in every other project I’ve been a part of and all the choreographers, lighting designers and musicians that I have been lucky enough to work with.

In later years I have realised that I had followed the QL2 boys plan perfectly. I began in the boys class License to Move, perfectly catering to everything a young boy desires for: to be able to get creative and do sick tricks. It created an environment which was fun, allowed us to feel completely comfortable and to learn how to truly communicate and collaborate, essential skills for the years ahead. I auditioned and was accepted into the Chaos project in 2011, and then into the QLAP project in 2012 right after. That year I became a leader in the Chaos project, and co-created my first Hot to Trot piece with Luke Fryer. 2013 lead me to working with dancers from NAISDA in Hit The Floor Together, friends that I still hold connections with. Again I participated in the Chaos and Hot to Trot projects, however this time I choreographed alone, working with three other dancers. Boundless followed in 2014, with the international and national tour accompanying. I also performed in Chaos and choreographed a Hot to Trot piece on four dancers, as well as taking part in a Tanja Liedtke Foundation Workshop. I took part in On Course, working with Ayesha Katz from WAAPA, Amanda Lee from VCA, and Melanie Kerr from Falmouth University (UK). I began to make decisions on which universities I would audition for in 2015. I took part in the remount of Reckless Valour, the Chaos project, and the second Tanja Liedtke Foundation workshop. In Hot to Trot I was lucky enough to work with a large cast of six to create my final Hot to Trot with QL2. On Course that year saw me working with Luke Fryer from VCA and Holly Newsome from NZSD. I auditioned for both WAAPA and the VCA, and was lucky enough to be accepted into both.

I am now studying in my first year at the VCA, very much missing my home of Quantum, but knowing it has fully prepared me for my career ahead.


 

Here are the QL2 pieces I was involved in, and the choreographers I worked with: