Celebrate the return of dance in our city at the free Leeds Dance Open Day, taking place on Sunday 19 September from 11am – 4pm.
See thrilling performances, or get dancing yourself with everything from a silent disco to street dance, ballet to flamenco – the choice is yours. You can even take a step closer with backstage tours and talks from professional dancers.
A day of dance around Leeds celebrating the best our city has to offer
Quarry Hill: Leeds Playhouse, Northern Ballet, and Yorkshire Dance
Chapeltown: Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Sunday 19 September 11am – 4pm
Events are free!
Booking in advance is available for all events, with on-the-door allocation of tickets also available on the day.*
Please note, pre-booking closes on Thursday 16 September at 10pm
We are looking for Volunteers to help support the Leeds Dance Open Day on Sunday 19 September, plus prior training sessions.
The free Leeds Dance Open Day will take place across several leading dance organisations and venues in Leeds: Northern Ballet & Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Dance, Leeds Playhouse and Northern School of Contemporary Dance. From dance films and performances, workshops and classes, to backstage tours, the Volunteers and Volunteer Coordinators will be on hand to assist in the smooth running of the day.
Find out more by downloading the information below
We are looking for six independent dance artists based in the Leeds City Region to form the Leeds Dance Partnership Independent Advisory Panel.
Led by our independent board member João Maio, the Panel will be made up of freelance dance artists with a diverse variety of social backgrounds, career phases, age, gender and ethnicities. The Panel will meet for three facilitated discussions, helping to shape our future work to ensure that freelance dance professionals in our region are supported to thrive. These sessions will also provide an opportunity for engagement and exchange with other independent artists and facilitators.
Each artist will receive a £60 contribution to attend each session (totalling £180 across the three sessions).
Lucy Dusgate has been appointed the new Partnership Director
of Leeds Dance Partnership. Previous Partnership Director Shirley Lundstram has
moved on to become Head of Programme – Heritage at Cause4 – we wish her all the best in her
Lucy is an experienced cultural producer delivering diverse
and strategic programmes of art, including in her most recent role as Art
Programmer / Producer at The Lowry. She has
extensive experience in developing cultural policy, consortium partnerships,
fundraising, embedded learning, co-commissions and large audience engagement
across culture and public realm locations.
Lucy creates programmes that range from the intimate to the monumental, across public, private and education sector multi-partnerships, delivering to audiences, professionals and participants.
Lucy said: ‘I’m delighted to be leading the Leeds Dance Partnership as we continue to build the city into one of the two national centres of excellence for dance. The support and talent of the partnership enables us to acknowledge our achievements to date and develop a future that is ambitious and encompassing for all.’
Mark Skipper DL, Chair of Leeds Dance Partnership, said: ‘I am delighted that Lucy has joined Leeds Dance Partnership to carry on the excellent work that Shirley Lundstram has delivered over the last three and a half years. Lucy brings to us a vast range of experience as a Creative Producer with lots of international connections and I look forward to seeing how the Partnership develops under her leadership in the coming years.’
Director of Spin Arts and Captain of Artistic Mutiny UK, Sarah Shead invited The Lowry’s Senior Producer, Claire Symonds, multidisciplinary artist Priya Mistry, and leader of Be More Pirate, Alex Barker, to discuss Radical Strategies for Change. The discussion was facilitated by Leeds Dance Partnership Independent Board Member João Maio.
Below, Sarah reflects on the provocations she worked with and what she feels the future may hold.
Radical Strategies for Change
Long before COVID-19 hit and affected the arts and cultural sector in a way none of us could have imagined, I was calling on industry professionals to consider and make urgent changes to ensure their relevance and sustainability.
I started by unpacking the inequalities facing freelancers by working with The Lowry in Salford to host two separate conversations, one with venues and another with independents, to explore what a more equitable sector might look like.
I formed an online group, Artistic Mutiny, committed to exploring and creating a more diverse, equitable and inclusive sector. Join the conversation!
To share some of the thinking from the group, I worked in partnership with Leeds Dance Partnership, One Dance UK and the National Dance Network to host the Radical Strategies for Change event.
A dynamic panel of female rogues (The Lowry’s Senior Producer Claire Symonds; multidisciplinary artist Priya Mistry; and leader of Be More Pirate, Alex Barker) shared their treasure trove of insights and unique perspectives about being radical, how they were navigating these uncertain times and seizing the opportunity to rebalance power.
Through collaborations and challenges such as this, leadership and knowledge sharing are shifting from top-down to horizontal power structures. A reorganisation and redistribution of power, where role models are your peers and not your leaders up ahead.
Freelancers are no longer willing to wait for years to inherit power. Instead they’re are heading out to take it and make it for themselves. They’re the CEOs of their own lives who can together be troublemakers, provocateurs, rebels, caring, compassionate, inclusive and ethical.
Radical change is coming. It will be incremental. It will be through partnership and collaborations.
Artistic Mutiny has since been awarded £10,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to support their development as a self-organised group seeking greater sector equality and inclusivity.
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt our lives, Leeds Dance Partnership recognised the devastating impact this was having on the independent dance sector. The Partnership wanted to ensure it was continuing to support the independent sector during this time and decided to run a series of free online events specifically for those artists.
In tandem with this, the Partnership wanted to bring together an artistic advisory group of independent dance artists. The aim of this is to widen independent representation in decision making settings, as well as having an adequate steering group to develop training and networking events aimed at independent artists and creatives.
The group was brought together and includes six local independent artists (pictured below): Alexah Tomey-Alleyne; Catrina Nisbett; Charlotte Arnold; Janetta Maxwell; Rachel Fullegar; and Sandrine Monin. That team, alongside João Maio (Independent Board Member) and Gail Ferrin (Programme Manager) then co-designed and programmed the Online Series.
The artistic group identified different relevant themes to be tackled in the series and democratically agreed on three sessions:
Going Digital – What to consider? with Wayne Sables (5 June)
All five sessions were sold out and received positive feedback.
Conversations with the artistic advisory group have so far provided significant learning for Leeds Dance Partnership about the barriers independents face in the region as well as the opportunities needed to network, link, upskill and share. There was also sharing of ideas and suggestions around the way that independent engagement work could be developed in the future.
The hope for Leeds Dance Partnership is now that the events can continue and develop, beyond online to live events (pandemic permitting) and that this will be enhanced by the continued support of the advisory group going forward.
This year’s One Dance UK Awards were a great success for dance in Yorkshire, with several awards received by dance artists, practitioners and educators based in our region including two lifetime achievements awards.
Kathy Williams OLY, Director of Leeds-based RJC Dance was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in Dance of the African Diaspora. Kathy is a founder member of RJC Dance, a leading inclusive Black dance organisation in the North empowering children, young people and adults through dance, movement and exercise.
As a Partnership, we stand in solidarity with all those affected by racism, violence and injustice.
We recognise there is so much more to do, and we are working on a series of actions that we can take as a Partnership. We will share these actions in a statement publicly.
A good place to start is to educate ourselves so we can challenge our thinking, encourage conversations and be inspired to make a difference. We and our colleagues from Leeds Beckett University Performing Arts team wish to share this reading list with you and also suggest Creative Access’ resource list.
In the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, artists and organisations across our region have adapted how they bring their work to us. Here is a snapshot and celebration of some of the fantastic work happening online and in person in Leeds and the surrounding areas, and how you can get involved.
From online and socially distanced classes, to podcasts and digital performances, there is plenty of activity happening across our region in lockdown.
Northern School of Contemporary Dance
Northern School of Contemporary Dance have launched online community classes for people of all ages and abilities, including Children’s Classes (5-12 years), Youth Classes (12-18 years) and Adult Classes (Improvers/Advanced Technique and Choreography & Performance), so now you don’t have to leave your home to access their world-class training.
Yorkshire Dance’s Leaps and Bounds tutors have also been hard at work creating a four part series exploring the natural world and universe. Follow along with these inclusive videos to learn how to create your own improvised routine.
During lockdown, core partner Leeds Playhouse have hosted regular Zoom sessions, making phone calls and sending resources to: People Living with Dementia; young people with learning disabilities and their families; refugees and asylum seekers; young people attending alternative education; and schools.
The Playhouse has delivered over 200 lockdown creative craft activities and interactive storytelling videos for their female refugee choir Asmarina Voices to share with their children, plus video resources sent to partner schools and over 100 calls to participants.
Dance Action Zone Leeds (DAZL)
DAZL have continued to focus on improving the mental and physical wellbeing of young people in Leeds throughout lockdown through many different initiatives.
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, DAZL are offering free 30 minute Facebook Live and Zoom dance classes with dance artist Mason Jubb, plus an online 10 week dance fitness programme for families. Find out more.
They have also been leading on GARDEN Groovers, a socially distanced doorstep dance programme funded by Leeds Inspired, Leeds Public Health and Leeds Community Foundation as a complementary offer to DAZL’s Food Bank and distribution work. GARDEN Groovers reaches communities across the city and is being replicated in four primary schools.
RJC Dance have continued to provide online classes for their students, available on their YouTube channel. They have also put together this fantastic video, Where U R, featuring teachers and students dancing in lockdown.
South Asian Arts-uk
South Asian Arts-uk have created the Generation 21 podcast, a series of thought-provoking interviews sharing questions and answers on the classical Indian music and dance industry. The first six episodes are available to download from all major podcast apps.
Mind the Gap
Our neighbours in Bradford Mind the Gap have created Humans of MTG, an online campaign celebrating the people they have worked with over the past few years and beyond inspired by the Twitter account Humans of Theatre.
pleased to announce that Leeds Dance Partnership has joined National Dance Network, a
meeting point of organisations whose role is to support the development of
dance in the UK.
Dance Network (NDN) champions the creation, development and presentation of
dance as a contemporary art form within a UK and international context.
by an Independent Chair Gregory Nash, NDN work together to achieve a thriving,
risk taking and confident dance sector in Britain, where UK based dance artists can research,
create and present world-class work nationally and internationally. The membership
meetings function as a forum for update, debate and exploration around key
NDN’s current objectives are to:
Provide opportunities to support the development of the artform and of its practitioners
Take opportunities to advocate and champion on behalf of the dance sector
Take opportunities to collaborate and share best practice
MaPPAMoNDO is a musical and imaginative performance for children from two years up. Using sand, earth, stones and musical instruments, a dancer and a musician create their own world full of colours and sounds.
Touch explores the themes of connection, intimacy and physical play between parents and their children, with a cast of two professional performers dancing with their own children, and a community cast of families from the local area. Touch will also be performed at The Holbeck on 7 March.
In 2019 Leeds Dance Partnership continued to grow, working on our mission to establish Leeds as an international centre of dance excellence. With our core members and the wider dance community, we’re proud that this year we have continued our commitment to diversity, ambition, skill, talent, export and research.
Our highlights for 2019 included developing
international connections and bringing high quality touring/commissioning to
Leeds, putting Leeds dance on the map and supporting independent artistic
We supported 15 professional performances in Leeds from international organisations hailing from countries including the UK, Norway, Hungary, Morocco and Japan, as well as a dedicated workshop programme. We were also proud to have supported over 30 independent artists.
We delivered our first ever Artist Fellowships scheme, where four artists were selected to work with a host organisation to research and develop a proposed artistic inquiry. We hosted a successful sharing at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre in September where artists presented videos, talks and live performances.
In September, Accelerate: A Skills Development Lab was launched by Yorkshire Dance and Northern School of Contemporary Dance. We’re proud to support this 9-month paid development programme for ten early-career dance artists. We’re looking forward to kickstarting the new year with Accelerate Lab 2 on 30 & 31 January.
In March, we hosted a cultural walking tour event with producing partners Walking Talking Project. 13 independent artists performed at the event, giving international delegates the opportunity to experience the diverse dance and cultural offer in Leeds. The delegates, who were guests of the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts Plenary Conference, joined us from as far afield as Australia and Canada. This event was held in association with Absolutely Cultured Hull and the British Council.
Choreographers and Composers Lab
In the summer, we supported Phoenix Dance Theatre’s international Choreographers and Composers Lab, where eight choreographers and composers worked collaboratively to research and develop dance and composition ideas.
In April, we led the northern element of BBC’s #DancePassion, a national streaming event. Leeds was the only site of dance streaming in the North and we were proud to support three independent artists to take part in the event.
As part of the scheme, independent dance artists are paired with a host organisation to create a response to a creative brief that generates new learning and mutual benefit across the partnership and their audiences, students, participants and stakeholders. Artists receive a fee, a training budget for their development and a bespoke offer of support throughout their fellowship from their host organisation and other partners.
This packed sharing event saw an audience of people from across
the dance industry come together and discover more about what each artist had been
working on and the development they had undergone throughout the scheme.
Introduced by their host organisations – Northern School of
Contemporary Dance, Leeds Beckett University, Yorkshire Dance and Phoenix Dance
Theatre, the artists presented their work in a variety of different ways,
including a presentation, the creation of short video, an interactive silent
disco-esque presentation and a short dance piece.
The 2019 Lab brought together four choreographers, four composers,
12 professional dancers and four musicians for a two-week intensive led by
Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Sharon
Watson and Musical Director Alexander
Week one saw the participants take part in workshops delivered by guest lecturers Kim Brandstrup, Peter Wiegold, Sandrine Monin and Nadine Benjamin, with the creative tasks focusing on experimentation and collaboration. In week two, each choreographer was paired with a composer and together the duos put the techniques explored in week one into practice, devising original choreography and composition. At the end of the two weeks, all involved in the process came together for a studio sharing to invited industry guests where the choreographers and composers shared their creative explorations.
Sharon Watson said:
I am absolutely delighted with the outcome of our second Choreographers & Composers Lab. To bring together 24 creative minds and see them experiment, challenge one another and create has been incredibly rewarding. Creative Labs have played a massive part in my professional development and to be able to offer a Lab that crosses disciplines is invaluable and wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of Jerwood Arts and Leeds Dance Partnership. I can’t wait to see what the 2019 CC Lab cohort do next.
At Leeds Dance Partnership, we are proud to have supported this exciting project and to attend the sharing itself to see the excellent work created. To find out about more artistic development opportunities like the CC Labs, visit our Projects & Opportunities page and join our newsletter.
Last month Northern Ballet presented Springboard, a three-day course for early career dance artists and recent graduates. Leeds Dance Partnership were proud to have supported the course with bursaries to cover course fees for four participants.
The course covered the basic knowledge and skills freelance dancers need to set themselves up, ensure they understand their responsibilities, and manage themselves as a business. This included sessions on financial management, marketing and social media, how to fill in a tax return, legal considerations and a one-day First Aid for Dance course by Underwood Training.
All of the participants said that the course helped them to feel more confident to set themselves up or deliver work as a self-employed artist, with lots of positive feedback:
‘Engaging and fun in a supportive and inspiring environment’
‘Incredibly beneficial and informative’
We’re so pleased that the course was a success and wish all of the Springboard participants the best of luck for their future careers.