Getting involved at York is the best way to integrate yourself and meet people. It can seem daunting but once you have crossed the bridge, your university experience will be 10 times better! When I first arrived at York, I was anxious but two years later I have never felt more confident, surrounded by amazing people. Joining societies, volunteering and getting involved is the uni experience. Making the time to do things you are passionate about with likeminded people. In this blog, I am going to take you through my experience with the University of York Dance Society (UYDS)!
University of York Dance Society (UYDS)
Before university, I danced every day of the week! Dance is all I know and I was split between pursuing a career on stage or academia. It was essential for me to have an involvement in the dance society at university. As soon as Freshers’ Fair came around the only stall I looked at was UYDS. I wanted to join teams, go to classes, do the shows, everything. On Saturday week 2, it was time for competition team auditions. I signed myself up and got ready to come along. As I walked over to campus feeling very anxious, I forgot about how much I love to dance! I remember ringing my Mum in the corridor outside the hall, saying I was turning back and wanted to go home. My Mum forced me into that room and I’ve never looked back since.
In my first year, I was part of the Advanced Ballet, Advanced Jazz, Advanced Contemporary and Lyrical teams. I even choreographed a section of the Wildcard routine. The competition teams were a piece of security for me, the rehearsals gave me time away from other stresses, allowed me to spend time with amazing people just having fun. The dance society runs their own competition in December and attends other universities’ competitions in Spring Term. the highlight being Loughborough’s Dance Competition (the biggest inter-university dance competition in the country); the atmosphere there is insane, it feels like you are in American College Sport leagues!
The society runs weekly classes in a variety of styles by student teachers. My first ever class was 2 days after the teachers auditions, I went in alone again but this time with the added confidence that I’d met people on Saturday. Looking around there were lots of new faces, which I have since discovered is common with classes. There are tonnes of members that go just for fun and exercise rather than looking to compete. At this class I sat next to Emily, who was my first friend in the society. We discovered we’d both got into the same team, then did everything together in first year.
The society is very important to my university experience and one day, I thought ‘I want to be on the committee’. In the elections, I stood up in front of everyone and read my speech for the role of Performance Coordinator. I got the role and my confidence skyrocketed. I feel like I have the backing to be able to face anything (I know that sounds cringey but it really does feel like this). Lockdown then hit and I continued to work on my role, introducing two new teams to the society focused on inc lusivity and fun with no competition element. I successfully auditioned to be a Jazz teacher and continue to provide services to our members over lockdown.
Through second year I jumped straight back into teams, teaching classes and socials alongside my role as Performance Coordinator. I started planning for the society’s annual Spring Showcase that introduces lots more teams, many with no dance experience, all taking part in a show over 2 days to an audience. This year has come with many challenges and my plans throughout the year have adapted but in June we finally got to make our showcase happen. Routines learnt over zoom are professionally recorded outside Heslington Hall and will be shown on our Youtube and streamed.
In March 2021, along with Emily (my first dance friend) I ran for the position of President. We were successful and ever since have been hands on running the society and managing the committee. It’s a huge task but I thoroughly enjoy it. Being able to give back an experience to new members that I had when I first started. The majority of my best friends at university come from the dance society! The experience with dance has not only given me a form of fitness through university but carried on my passion, made me so many friends and added invaluable skills to my CV. To anyone hesitant at first no matter what society it is, just go for it! I know it’s easier said than done but it will be worth it in the end. You can find out how to get involved at York in the dance society on our website and Instagram.
Other ways to get involved at York (not just societies)
There are many other ways to involve yourself at university. I took part in a course called York Leaders, targeted at drawing out leadership skills amongst 2nd years. This not only added to my CV but was a super fun experience that meant I could work with a hard working group of individuals. We had such a good time making our project and now remain friends.
You can also volunteer to get involved at York. I am currently volunteering as a Community Sustainability Champion working with a local business to become more sustainable. I took this opportunity as it closely aligns with my career prospects. Through this project I have learnt so much that you don’t learn from just doing your course. You can interact with real businesses and people that want your help. Volunteering can be a really beneficial way to develop your skills, contacts and give you a purpose. There are no significant time commitments either, you can volunteer as much or as little as you’d like to suit you.
Make use of all opportunities
Overall, my advice is to just step out of your comfort zone. As soon as you try something new you are no longer scared of it and if you don’t like it, don’t go back, there’s no strings attached. YUSU offers ‘give it a go’ sessions where you can try society activities for free, so try what you like and make your university experience more than your studies. You will become more confident, skilled and have fun! At the end of the day, it all builds your CV ready for the world of work. There is really something for everyone, so make sure you get involved at York.