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! 

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

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

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.