Leeds Dance Open Day

Leeds Dance Open Day – BOOKING NOW OPEN

Important information, please read before planning your day

See the full line-up and book now!

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

See the full line-up and book now!

Photo York Dance Space

New Partnership Director appointed

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 new ventures.

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.

A headshot image of Lucy Dusgate. Lucy has short blonde hair and is smiling at the camera.
Lucy Dusgate

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.

Her past work has included two commissions with Phoenix Dance Theatre for NVA’s Speed of Light and Honour, two Motionhouse outdoor performances, as well as work with individual artists including Darren Pritchard, Dickson Mbi and Mac Daniel Palima.

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.’

Radical Strategies for Change

As part of the Leeds Dance Partnership Online Series, we supported the online discussion Radical Strategies for Change led by Sarah Shead from Artistic Mutiny UK. Read more about our work with independent artists during the 2020 lockdown.

About the Event 

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 

Sarah Shead

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.  

This led to a presentation at The Lowry’s Artist Development Toolkit Day, where I led a call to action to 50+ venues committed to Artist Development.

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.

Leeds Dance Partnership Online Series

Supported by the Independent Dance Sector

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. 

A series of headshots of the LDP support panel, including: Alexah Tomey-Alleyne, Catrina Nisbett, Charlotte Arnold, Janetta Maxwell, Rachel Fullegar and Sandrine Monin. LDP board member João Maio is also included.

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)  
  • De-Mystifying Networking with Nicole Newman and Ella Mesma (19 June) 
  • Fundraising for Individuals (beyond ACE) with Sue Robinson (24 July).  

Following a good reception and take up to the free online events, the series was further expanded to include:

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.  

Yorkshire winners at the One Dance UK Awards

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. 

Janet Smith MBE, Principal & Artistic Director of Northern School of Contemporary Dance from 2012 – 2020, received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Dance Education.  

Other award recipients from our region included: 

  • Yorkshire Dance, receiving the Dance Advocacy Award
  • Northern Ballet Premier Dancer Javier Torres, who received the People’s Choice Award for the second year running
  • Sheffield-based freelance dance practitioner Charlotte Armitage, who received the Inspirational Community Dance Practitioner Award
  • Claire Nicholson, Principal Strategic Director at CAPA College Wakefield, who received the Inspirational Lecturer at College, University or Conservatoire Award.

Congratulations to all of the nominees and winners from Yorkshire and beyond! 

Yorkshire Dance celebrating International Day of Older People

As part of their ongoing commitment to keeping older adults dancing, maintaining social interaction and supporting their older participants Yorkshire Dance has curated a celebratory week to coincide with International Day of Older People on Thursday 1st October. 

The week will challenge the stereotypes of age and older bodies in dance with classes in Vogue, break dancing and an African Dance Master Class.  These online classes will take place on Zoom and are part of an exciting programme of events and classes to celebrate the older body dancing.  

It is crucial to the work of Yorkshire Dance to advocate for inclusive processes that facilitate people from a wide range of backgrounds to discover the power of dance in daily life. 


  • Monday 28 September: Masterclass – Break Dancing with Ella Mesma 2.00pm-3.30pm
  • Tuesday 29 September: Masterclass – Voguing with Darren Pritchard 2-3.30pm
  • Wednesday 30 September: Masterclass – African/Ghanaian Dance with Nii Kwartey Owoo 2-3.30pm
  • Thursday 1 October: International Day of Older People – Dance On Social – 2.30pm. An event about bringing people together through sharing memories of dance, stories of dancing into older age and the legendary Dance On Quiz.
  • Friday 2 October: Dance On Launch 12noon-1pm – the re-launch of our physical Dance On session (for 6 weeks) held at Yorkshire Dance, please contact adienivison@yorkshiredance.com directly for more information.
Darren Voguing
Darren, Vogue

Find out more: https://yorkshiredance.com/whats-on/ 

Header image: Nii, African Dance

Slung Low hosts socially distanced dance first in Leeds supported by Leeds Dance Partnership

This weekend saw Leeds’ first socially distanced live dance event take place since the COVID-19 lockdown was initiated. Good Blood, by independent dance artist Keira Martin in collaboration with Sioda Adams, was performed at Slung Low’s The Holbeck to a sold-out audience on 5 September demonstrating positive signs for the re-emergence of live dance performance in the city.

Kiera Martin and Sioda Adams, one looks on while wearing a easter Europe style dress while the other is upside down in a water butt.

Good Blood was performed by Barnsley-born sisters Keira Martin and Sioda Adams who use dance, live music, song and storytelling to bring hilarious, nostalgic and familiar family scenarios to the stage. Looking closely at the relationship of two sisters, Good Blood was performed outside, with performers and audiences socially distanced. The free event was primarily attended by members of the local communities around Holbeck.

“It was great to perform and connect with a live audience again after such a long break. It felt particularly special at Slung Low because of the diverse mix of people watching. It was great to be placing theatre and performance right in the heart of a local community and I loved how uplifted people seemed from the whole experience. I take my hat off to Slung Low for the work they’re doing, I don’t see any other arts organisation working with the community in the way that they do. It’s just brilliant!”

Sioda Adams
Kiera Martin and Sioda Adams, one stood wearing a red dress while the other sits in a white dress holding a violin.

Good Blood was supported by Leeds Dance Partnership and commissioned by Northern School of Contemporary Dance – Northern Connections, 2Faced Dance Company – The Bench Seed funding, with support from Yorkshire Dance, Vincent Dance Theatre, Spin Arts and Dance City; funded by Arts Council England.

One Dance UK Awards Nomination

The One Dance UK Awards are an annual celebration for people from across the dance sector to celebrate and reward the people who have made an impact on the vibrant UK dance landscape.

The long list for this year’s awards has now been released, and we’re thrilled to see that Emily Snow, Leeds Dance Partnership’s Freelance Project Coordinator, has been nominated in the Rising Star category. We’ve got our fingers crossed for a win for Emily! 

It is fantastic to see so many nominations from across Leeds and Yorkshire on the long list including David Toole (Stop Gap), CPYDNN, RJC Dance’s Kathy Williams and Nillanthie Morton, Dawn Holgate of Leeds City College as well as nominations for Partners NSCD and Yorkshire Dance.

See the One Dance UK website for the full long list. The short list with three nominees per category will be announced soon.

Leeds Dance Partnership statement

We all have a part to play in making change.

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.

If you have a suggested resource for us to consider, please contact shirley@leedsdancepartnership.com

Black Lives Matter.

Read the Message of Solidarity from Leeds’ Black & Brown female cultural leaders

Updated Monday 27 July 2020 12:30pm

Lockdown Dance in Leeds

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

Yorkshire Dance are delivering a range of dance activities that you can get involved with from home. From creating your very own screen dance in the FRESH Challenge, to online classes for the over 55s (Dance On) and families (Saturday Superstars) there’s lots to choose from.

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.

Northern Ballet

Northern Ballet have continued to deliver weekly sessions for their Ability, In Motion and Dance for Parkinson’s groups online during lockdown. The Academy of Northern Ballet have also been releasing free ballet training videos on their Facebook page weekly.

If you’re looking to get your ballet fix whilst theatres are closed, the Company has also released some of their work digitally as part of their Pay as You Feel Digital Season. This has included: new digital dance film EGO (created before lockdown); short ballet For an Instant; Dracula and Little Red Riding Hood available on BBC iPlayer; and excerpts from new ballet Geisha and their 50th Anniversary Celebration Gala.

Leeds Playhouse

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

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.

Balbir Singh Dance Co 

Balbir Singh Dance Company are currently running online classes bringing classical Indian dance, ballet and other dance styles to you from the comfort of your living room.

Leeds Dance Partnership update COVID-19

COVID-19’s impact on the partners, individuals and businesses we work with is rapidly changing and we are working in accordance with the ongoing advice from Public Health England.

Download a comprehensive guide to support during the Covid-19 outbreak here.

Access additional information on the below links 

Last updated 11:58 Friday 10 July 2020

International Day of Dance

At Leeds Dance Partnership we celebrate dance from across the city and its surrounding areas. With the current COVID-19 crisis, artists have adapted to keep us all connected to the art of dance. To celebrate International Day of Dance 2020 we’ve brought together some of the content being produced right now – it won’t cover everything so keep your eye on Twitter and follow #IDD2020 throughout the day. And tweet us your activity so we can share. 

Yorkshire Dance

Yorkshire Dance have lots going on online and are one to keep an eye on as they plan to release more. For now, you can watch Dancing on My Own, and then have a go yourself. Or for fun for all the family why not try their Saturday Superstars Online classes? It includes classes on street dance, ballet and rhythm and tap.

Northern School of Contemporary Dance

Northern School of Contemporary Dance will share a short film celebrating their international student community. Featuring students dancing in their homes across the world as they continue their studies remotely under lockdown.

Also worth a look is FLOCK FEST, an art and performance festival curated and produced by the students. There are over 20 videos from independent artists in the online programme.

Northern Ballet

Northern Ballet are running a Pay as You Feel Season Digital Season where you can see full-length ballets and exclusive excerpts for free. They are just asking for a donation when you watch, if you feel you are able. One to act quickly on is 1984 which is available to watch for free online until 2 May.

Don’t miss Sharon Watson’s Windrush: Movement of the People on MarqueeTV (you’ll need an account or 14-day free trail). The work is a lively celebration of the rise of multicultural Britain and features an uplifting soundtrack from calypso, jazz, gospel and reggae.

And calling all young, aspiring dancers…Phoenix are still accepting applications for all Phoenix Youth Academy cohorts for Autumn 2020. Apply now!

Dance Studio Leeds

If you want to get moving in your living room, it might be worth checking out the online class offering from Dance Studio Leeds. With everything from ballet to Afrofusion and musical inspired classes. A bargain for £5.


It’s always worth keeping an eye on what DAZL are up to and they are on top of the lockdown TikTok craze too search for them @DAZLDance.

Watch their videos

Leeds City College

Leeds City College have curated a series of interactive activities and workshops you can take part in online. Whilst not specifically dance, there’s plenty to keep you creative.

Balbir Singh Dance Co

Something for the kids here as BSDC run online classes bringing classical Indian dance, ballet, and other dance styles to the comfort or chaos of your living room.

South Asian Arts-UK (SAA-UK)

SAA-UK have developed Baithak LIVE, a season of live streamed performances by some of the best South Asian musicians and dancers. There is content every Thursday at 7pm, and twice a month on Sundays at 11am a special Sacred Sounds for Humanity will be live streamed.

Mind the Gap

To celebrate the anniversary of ZARA – Mind the Gap’s giant co-production with Walk the Plank in association with Emergency Exit Arts, you can watch it on their website now.

Leeds Inspired

Always a good place to see what’s happening in Leeds, Leeds Inspired are sharing a guide for online events in Leeds including Leeds Digital Festival.

We also recommend checking out Dance Consortia North West’s Collaborative Campaign

Keep Active, Keep Healthy, Keep Social, Keep Dancing

Cheshire Dance, Ludus Dance, Merseyside Dance Initiative (MD) and Company Chameleon are bringing the sector together to celebrate International Day of Dance 2020 which is on the 29th April.

Leeds Dance Partnership are delighted to be collaborating with DCNW and other dance partners from across the North West of England to showcase and spread the transformational power of dance.

Throughout the day, Leeds Dance Partnership will be sharing content, showing how the dance industry is adapting to create virtual dance communities. You can share and find content by using the following hashtags:

#IDD2020 #LetsCreate #DancingConnects

National Dance Network

We’re 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. 

National Dance Network (NDN) champions the creation, development and presentation of dance as a contemporary art form within a UK and international context. 

Chaired 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 concerns. 
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 

Other members of NDN include:

Family Encounters

From 29 February – 1 March, Yorkshire Dance will present Family Encounters, in association with Leeds Dance Partnership.

We’re proud to be supporting four events in this exciting dance festival which will explore play between children and their grown-ups. All of the events at Family Encounters are pay as you feel.

To the Beat of a Different Drum by TC Howard

A person is jumping in front of a drum.

To the Beat of a Different Drum is an unexpected meeting of worlds as young people and elders meet – chiming to the beat of a different drum.

Find out more

Des Gestes Blancs – Gestures on a Blank Slate

A black and white image of a man with a child on his shoulders.

Des Gestes Blancs – Gestures on a Blank Slate is a father and son duo based on improvisation and play. Cheerful and touching, these gestures will connect you with your inner child.

Find out more

MaPPAMoNDO by Dadodans – Gaia Gonnelli

There are two dancers in a fields with long grass and flowers. One of them sits on the floor, and has thrown bark into the air. The other is leaning over them, looking with wonder at the bark.

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.

Find out more

Touch by Four Hands

A performance of Touch by Four Hands. A dancer stands over a child, cradling the child's head in their handss. We can see the audience in the background.

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.

​Find out more

Discover the full Family Encounters programme on the Yorkshire Dance website.

Please note: please purchase tickets to reflect the number of persons attending the performance, including tickets for those who might be supervising a young child.

The in associaton with Leeds Dance Partnership logo

2019 Highlights

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.

Three dancers wearing yellow t-shirts hold their hands above their heads as they perform as part of the Leeds Dance Partnership Artist Sharing

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 development.

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.

A dancer stands with their arms outstereched left and right. Thery are in half-profile to the camera. They are in a dance studio.


Artist Fellowships

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.

Read more

A panel discussion at the Aertist Fellowship sharing. Three dance artists are being interviewed by a host.


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.

Meet the ten Accelerate dance artists

Walking with Leeds

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.

Read more

A group of dance artists and musicians participate in Phoenix Dance Theatre's Choreographic and Composer Labs 2019. A large group of participants sit on the floor of a dance studio as they listen to a gentleman in a pink shirt give them more information. There is a harpist, saxophonist, guitar player and clarinet player in the photograph.


We were also thrilled to support Transform Festival to present Luis Garay’s Daimón (Argentina/Colombia) and sell-out performances of nora chipaumire’s #PUNK (Zimbabwe/NYC) as part of their amazing 2019 programme.

BBC #DancePassion

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.

Catch up on #DancePassion

Ballet Black Workshop

On Saturday 16 November, Leeds Dance Partnership supported a workshop at Northern Ballet’s headquarters led by Ballet Black.

A Ballet Black dancer leads a workshop with students in the background. They are in a dance studio, the Ballet Black dancer is standing with his legs apart, one arm in the air and the other on his chest.

The workshop brought together young local dancers from some of Leeds’ dance training schemes, including Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Youth Academy, Northern School of Contemporary Dance’s Centre for Advanced Training scheme and Further Education dance students from Leeds City College.

Dance students at the Ballet Black workshop stand by ballet barres. They are holding on to the barre with one hand, the other arm is in the air above their heads. Some are leaving back slightly

The students were able to learn more about Ballet Black’s Ignoma, a mix of pointe work, contemporary and African dance which was performed at the Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, Leeds.

A Ballet Black dancer leads a balelt technique class. She is watchign the students at the barre, her fingers outstretched at her sides.

The workshop was split into two parts including a ballet technique class led by Cira Robinson and a contemporary repertoire session led by choreographer of Ignoma Mthuthuzeli November.

A Ballet Black dancer is leading a workshop with students. The back of his hands are meeting at his chest, with his elbows pointed out either side. One of his feet is crossed in front of the other.

The students had a great time, with lots of brilliant feedback:

‘I learnt how to move my body in different ways’

‘Challenging, ground-breaking, strong’

‘an amazing piece of choreography’

‘I enjoyed learning part of the South African piece as it was different and I enjoyed learning about the background behind it.’

‘It challenged me’

‘(I learnt) a new drive to dance – passion and motive’

A group of dance students stand at the barre in the Ballet Black workshop. They have one hand on the barre, with the other arm in the air above thier heads.
Supported by Leeds Dance Partnership logo in orange.

Light Night Leeds 2019

Light Night Leeds 2019 was bigger than ever with over 60 events lighting up the city. This year we were proud to support the interactive installation and performances of Alexander Whitley Dance Company’s Strange Stranger as part of the event.

There was a great atmosphere with all of the performances fully sold out and great feedback from audiences.

‘The energy and control of the performers was amazing, thank you for letting us share it’

‘Utterly absorbing, innovative and interesting’

‘I found the performance extremely thought-provoking and very well done indeed. Thank you, it’s given me food for thought.’

Four dancers in Strange Stranger. They are in a square formation, with the light towers of the installation gleaming.

Nearby, partner organisation Leeds Playhouse presented light installation A Beacon of Happiness plus an epic game of simon says.

As ever we had a fantastic Light Night and we’re already counting down the days until next year!

Artist Fellowships Sharing

Last month we hosted our first ever Artist Fellowships Sharing, where our four artists Hannah Buckley, Vanessa Grasse, Lucy Suggate and Jamaal Burkmar presented the creative explorations they developed through the Leeds Dance Partnership Artist Fellowships scheme.

A panel discussion at the Aertist Fellowship sharing. Three dance artists are being interviewed by a host.

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.

Three dancers wearing yellow t-shirts hold their hands above their heads as they perform as part of the Leeds Dance Partnership Artist Sharing

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.

A group of people sit ina  circle with headphones on during Hannah Buckley's presentation at the Leeds Dance Partnership Artist Fellowships sharing.

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.

Find out more about the Artist Fellowships scheme

Photos David Lindsay

Phoenix Dance Theatre Choreographers & Composers Lab 2019

This July Phoenix Dance Theatre delivered their second Choreographers & Composers Lab, funded by Jerwood Arts with match funding from Leeds Dance Partnership.

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 Campkin.

A group of dance artists and musicians participate in Phoenix Dance Theatre's Choreographic and Composer  Labs 2019. A large group of participants sit on the floor of a dance studio as they listen to a gentleman in a pink shirt give them more information. There is a harpist, saxophonist, guitar player and clarinet player in the photograph.

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.

A dancer performs in a dance studio in front of invited guests at Phoenix Dance Theatre's CC Labs 2019. Her back is to the camera and she spreads her arms out side to side. Her dark hair is tied up and she wears a dark green top with blue shorts.

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.

Photos Zoe Martin & Jack Thorne

Supported by Leeds Dance Partnership logo in orange.

Springboard 2019

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

Five early career dance artists sit around a big white sheet of paper with the outline of a person drawn on it in blue. One of the dance artists is holding a bright green pen and is about to make some notes on the paper. The dance artists are smiling and are sat around the paper on the floor of a dance studio. This is part of Northern Ballet's Springboard Course.

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’

Three dance artists sit on the floor of a studio around a large white piece of paper. One of them is holding an orange pen and is laughing, one is smiling and the other has their back to the camera. They are all dance artists on Northern Ballet's Springboard course.

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. 

We regularly post opportunities like Springboard from across the industry on our Projects & Opportunities page.

Photos Gavin Joynt 

Supported by Leeds Dance Partnership logo in orange.

Choreographers & Composers Lab 2019

Phoenix Dance Theatre is delighted to announce the names of the eight participants taking part in the 2019 Choreographers and Composers Lab. Solomon Berrio-Allen, Jamaal Burkmar, Harriet Macauley and Michael Marquez are the four selected choreographers taking part in the Lab and Anthony Davey, Eunseog Lee, Christella Litras and Angela Slater are the four successful composers.

Funded by Jerwood Arts and Leeds Dance Partnership, the Choreographers and Composers Lab brings together the eight participants for a two week intensive where they will be mentored by Phoenix Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director, Sharon Watson, and composer, creative director and cultural activist, Shirley J. Thompson.

The eight participants will be joined by eight professional dancers and four musicians to support their creative explorations. During the intensive the Choreographers and Composers will take part in guest lectures delivered by industry professionals and be set creative tasks aimed at expanding their knowledge of collaboration.

The 2019 Lab focuses on broadening the artists’ creative capabilities rather than the production of a final work, to give those taking part the freedom to take risks and experiment.  

A little about the participating artists:

Solomon Berrio-Allen

Solomon is an award-winning choreographer and freelance dance artist based between London and the South East. Training originally in breakdance Solomon then went on to train on the Trinity Laban CAT scheme and later at P.A.R.T.S, Brussels and Rambert School of ballet and contemporary dance. In 2017 Solomon was awarded the first place prize at the Copenhagen International Choreographic Competition for his work Helium.

Jamaal Burkmar

Jamaal Burkmar is a choreographer and movement director based in the Midlands. He has been the recipient of countless awards and commissions such as: One Dance UK’s Trailblazer Fellowship, New Adventures Choreography Award and the choreodrome commission awarded by the The Place. Jamaal’s choreographic style takes influence from the R&B music that he choreographs to.

Harriet Macauley

Harriet Macauley is a choreographer, Artistic Director and founder of InDance, Barcelona. As a dancer she has performed with Wayne McGregor Random Dance, Rambert and Richard Alston Dance Company.

Michael Marquez

Michael Marquez is a current company dancer with Phoenix Dance Theatre based in Leeds. As a choreographer he defines himself as an admirer of problem solving with a liking for complex group dynamics, poetic and theatrical devices and narrative themes often infused with a spark of lightness and joy. Michael trained at the Julliard School in New York and upon graduation was awarded the Juilliard Career Advancement Fellowship to pursue and develop his choreographic voice. He has created both site specific and more classical proscenium dance works.

Anthony Davey

Anthony is a composer and music producer based in West Yorkshire. Anthony has composed music for a variety of mediums and most notably was commissioned to write and record the full score and theme music for the BBC1 series, Home from Home, starring Johnny Vegas and Emilia Fox which aired in March/April 2018.

Eunseog Lee

Eunseog is a composer and educator based in Coventry. He holds a Master’s in music composition from the University of Oxford. Eunseog’s compositions are often inspired by religious narratives and infuses Korean instruments with Western.

Christella Litras

Christella is a composer, music director and educator based in Leeds. She has worked with a range of organisations including Leeds Playhouse and Opera North working on both original commissions and with their youth groups. Christella has performed with the likes of Rihanna and been a support act for Beverly Knight and Jamiroquai.

Angela Slater

Dr Angela Slater is a composer based in Staffordshire. She is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Illuminate ​series. In her AHRC-funded PhD in composition at the University of Nottingham, Angela developed an interest in incorporating different aspects of the natural world into her compositions. She has been working on a series of works that engage with the natural world, musically mapping certain aspects into the fabric of her music.


BBC Young Dancer 2019 highlights great dance talent in Leeds

On Saturday 18 May, the Grand Final of BBC Young Dancer saw Northern School of Contemporary Dance student Max Revell awarded the 2019 title. Broadcast on BBC Two from the Birmingham Hippodrome, Max competed alongside five dancers between 16-21 years old from the Ballet, Contemporary, South Asian and Street Dance categories.

A student on NSCD’s BA (Hons) Dance (Contemporary) course, Max was given a Wildcard entry to the Grand Final after just missing out in the Street Dance category. After performing three stunning pieces – a self-choreographed solo Subject Number 6, a duet with former winner Tom Hughes Lloyd titled Stranger, and a solo choreographed by Dickson Mbi named Unstrung – he was named BBC Young Dancer 2019.

Alongside Max two more talented NSCD students, Max Cookward and Adanna Lawrence, made the Contemporary category final. Max is a former student of both the Northern Ballet and NSCD CAT programmes, while Adanna aspires to go on to join VERVE, the postgraduate company of NSCD.

Leeds-based choreographers also shone in this year’s competition. Kenneth Tindall, Artistic Director of Digital and Choreographer in Residence for Northern Ballet, choreographed Solo for C for finalist Chloe Keneally. Kenneth was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in a new Dance Production at the Broadway World UK Awards 2017 and has been nominated for several other high-profile awards including Best Classical Choreography at the National Dance Awards. He saw his first full-length ballet, Casanova, broadcast on SkyArts and Digital Theatre. He is currently creating a new full-length work for Northern Ballet, Geisha, to be premièred in 2020. Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, choreographed Me, myself & I for finalist Max Rawcliffe, a young contemporary dancer. Sharon has previously lectured at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance and as Artistic Director of Phoenix was named Yorkshire Woman of the Year in 2017. Sharon received the first English Women’s Award for Arts and Culture in 2018, was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s Women to Watch and has created numerous acclaimed new works for Phoenix Dance Theatre including Windrush (2018) and Melt (2011).

Photo Jane Hobson


The BBC’s #DancePassion was a celebration of the UK’s flourishing dance scene in collaboration with One Dance UK. #DancePassion week ran from 31 March – 6 April with a full day of livestreaming on Friday 5 April from dance hubs around the UK.

Leeds was the only livestream hub in the North of England, hosted by Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Featured videos included Dancing on My Own by Sara Lindstrom, commissioned by Yorkshire Dance, and performances from Leeds artists DAZL, RJC Dance,  Möbius Dance, Akeim Toussaint Buck, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Kenneth Tindall / Northern Ballet, DeNada Dance Theatre and Gracefool Collective were live streamed and can still be viewed on the Dance Passion website.

New Independent Board Member

We are delighted to announce that João Maio is joining our board as an independent representative.

João is an independent dance artist and creative producer based in Leeds. He has worked with companies such as Carlos Pons Guerra’s DeNada Dance Theatre and Rosie Kay Dance Company.

After completing an MA in Dance and Creative Enterprise, and the 2018 UK tour of Rosie Kay Dance Company’s MK Ultra,  João  started working part-time as a Creative Producer for Open Source Arts, a grass-roots community development organisation.

João joins us at the end of the month as we say goodbye to Rachel Fullegar of Gracefool Collective as she comes to the end of her term on the board.

The Independent Board Member place is now a 12 month appointment and we are developing activity to engage with more independent voices.

Transform 2019

Leeds Dance Partnership is excited to support Transform festival 19. Transform celebrates the independent and adventurous spirit of Leeds focusing on reimagining what theatre can look like.

This year, the Festival runs from 26 April – 4 May at venues across Leeds. Leeds Dance Partnership are supporting #PUNK by Nora Chipaumire and Daimόn by Luis Gray

Visit the Transform website to find the full programme.

Artist Fellowships

Leeds Dance Partnership offers support for independent artists through its Artist Fellowship scheme. As part of the scheme artists work with a host organisation in response to a creative brief, developing strong relationship between independent artists and major organisations in Leeds. The artists receive a fee, a training budgets for their own development and support throughout their fellowship from both their host organisation and other partners.

The incredible artists in our 2019 Fellowship are:

  • Vanessa Grasse – Artist Fellow at Leeds Beckett University
  • Hannah Buckley – Artist Fellow at Northern School of Contemporary Dance
  • Jamaal Burkmar – Artist Fellow at Phoenix Dance Theatre 
  • Lucy Suggate – Artist Fellow at Yorkshire Dance 

At the end of the fellowship, the artists and organisations will share their learnings or created works at an event open to the public and industry guests.