It’s a real privilege to be in a position to help artists make and deliver high quality work and to be able to support venues in developing audiences to see that work.
I’ve been an independent dance artist and producer for more than 20 years, moving back to Dorset to join Activate in 2008 and having had experience as a professional dance practitioner delivering participatory dance projects it has been especially pleasurable to be able to help and advise others in this role. For example, sometimes we’ve been able to co-commission work, or provide funds for a dance professional to undertake training.
Community engagement has been a particular focus of my work, striving to bring a quality artistic and inclusive experience to as wide a range of participants and audience as possible. A large part of that now involves working with older people and the Dorset Joint Strategic Needs Analysis recognises the county has the highest proportion of population above retirement age in the country.
Enabling older people to age actively and creatively, A Dance A Day is Activate’s community dance project for the over 50s and has seen five groups established across Dorset, initially as part of the Olympic celebrations in Weymouth, to make sure older people remain visibly engaged with the wider community in ways that challenge their creativity and improve well being.
The classes are lead by dance artists who work on short phrases of movement and dance improvisation as well as working together with participants to create movements that can be incorporated in their daily lives. The groups meet weekly to develop skills and work towards performances, such as the curtain raisers that have been showcased at dance events at Bridport Arts Centre.
A Dance A Day successfully highlights the creative contribution made by older members of the community and has been a vital part of the continued advocacy for the arts and health policy.
In 2012 I produced Elixir At Springhead, a project co-commissioned by Activate to explore man’s cultural relationship to water staged in a lakeside setting in North Dorset. Not only did the project support an artistically under-served area and a venue that wanted to engage more widely with artists and the public, it also helped an artist, Subathra Subramanium, develop work outdoors.
Previously I have produced, managed, delivered, evaluated and consulted on projects for community, schools and universities, health settings and professional projects for clients including the National Trust, Redrow, English Sinfonia, Northamptonshire and Dorset County Councils, Salisbury Arts Centre and Salisbury Playhouse.
Dance can challenge, transform and inspire and I’m passionate about creating opportunities for people to engage in dance, as participants, artists or audiences.