Catriona O'Connor

About me

I'm currently a professional dancer and freelance choreographer living in London. After leaving Stirling High I studied at Dance Studio Scotland in Glasgow before moving to London to train in contemporary dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Left school

June 2016

Senior Phase

I studied Advanced Higher (SCQF level 7) History, Higher (SCQF level 6) English, Design & Manufacture and Business Management and National 5 (SCQF level 5) Spanish and Biology. 

Outside of SHS I achieved an A in Higher Dance at Monument Dance Centre and a Dance Leadership qualification with YDance Scotland. 

Choosing my Destination

I felt quite stuck at school, I struggled with really academic subjects and found it hard to motivate myself. I had danced from a really young age, but it wasn't until 5th year that I decided to pursue it as a career.

I did classes at Scottish Ballet in Glasgow once a week after school, which really helped to develop my creative and technical skills, and the teachers provided a lot of advice and support about different career paths. I did a lot of summer dance intensives, mostly through YDance in Glasgow which allowed me to connect and network with people from different backgrounds. This is where I learned about different universities and conservatoires that I could train at to pursue my creative career.

When I was at Trinity Laban, there were so many opportunities to speak to industry professionals who helped me decide what field of work I wanted to go in to. Being in a city as big as London, there's always something going on and lots of opportunities to create and perform. Putting myself in a positive environment with good friends and connections was incredibly valuable in getting me to where I am now.

Skills I've developed

I volunteered at my local dance school on a Saturday morning, assisting in dance classes with kids of all ages. I learned how to work with children, developed my communication skills and improved my confidence. I spent a lot of time doing workshops with companies from all over the world to gain more technical and performance skills, and began networking and connecting with other dance artists. 

Extra Curricular & Work Experience

Through my time at university gained a wide variety of skills that I can use not only in my dance profession but all other aspects of life. I learned that communication is key, being able to talk to people from all walks of life will help in the long run and may bring you opportunities you could never have dreamed of! Research - whether it be for a course I wanted to apply for or a company I dreamed of being in, knowing that I would get what I needed out of it was important. And finally being open to anything and everything, no matter how weird or crazy it seems.

Being freelance means that I do everything myself, from invoices and admin to social media and sound design. I have managed to pick up these skills along the way, mostly self-taught or asking friends (or the internet) for advice. Having confidence and belief in yourself will really help you to develop and expand your skillset.

My Advice

My advice would be to focus on yourself and not worry about what anyone else is doing or thinks. It's easy to think "I should be doing this" or "my friend is doing this so I should do it too", but what matters is what makes YOU happy and what works for you. Say yes to as many experiences and opportunities as you can, whilst also putting yourself first and knowing your boundaries.