Merger Body Success For Dance

A Life In DanceIn March it was announced that Arts Council England has awarded a major grant for a new strategic dance body. The three year commissioned grant for a ground-breaking consortium will bring four leading dance organisations together to create a unified “go-to” industry body: Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD), Dance UK, National Dance Teachers Association (NDTA) and Youth Dance England (YDE).

This radical transformation is a response to industry demand, affecting both workforce and the support of talent. As a result, the combined impact of these organisations will be much greater than they can achieve as stand-alone bodies. ADAD, Dance UK, NDTA and YDE will pool their expertise to result in a simplified, strengthened and specialist partnership body nurturing and developing talent and delivering excellence in: education; youth dance; dance of the African diaspora; performance, health and well-being; management, leadership and career development. This will become the subject discussion for dance to further the teaching and learning of dance in schools, embedding education at the heart of the dance sector.

The consortium will support a more coherent national approach to the delivery of dance services and will encourage development across the spectrum, from children and young people’s dance, to professional dance practice and being representative of diversity. This new collaborative working model will directly benefit the 40,000 plus dance workforce, and children dancing in and outside school, and indirectly impact on the millions of adults who participate in dance and watch performances. It will provide a single more powerful voice for dance to policy makers and politicians and a centralised knowledge hub, which is ultimately important for the developing arts sector, to promote best practice and nurture talent.

As a result, children and young people’s dance will be central to the work of the new organisation – as well as providing resources for their teachers – bringing together all areas of the dance sector to support young people right from their first steps. The new organisation will create many more exciting and progressive opportunities for young people and dance professionals.

The Dance Manifesto For 2015

Dance UKMPs have been urged to raise the profile of dance in a new manifesto that came to light during February from stalwart Dance UK. Politicians are now under further pressure to ensure dance plays a greater role in young people’s education, following what has been labelled a constant “undermining of arts subjects” by high-profile MPs.

The new dance manifesto launched by Dance UK calls on politicians to “speak up for the benefits of dance as an essential part of a balanced curriculum for children”. It also calls them to increase the number of PGCE-trained dance teachers in schools, which is encouraging news for the industry following claims by education secretary Nicky Morgan that studying arts subjects can hold young people back.

The manifesto was presented to MPs at an event in Westminster, and comes ahead of a major conference to be launched in April that will see dance leaders come together to debate issues in the sector and devise a new five-year strategy for the industry. The manifesto builds on one previously launched in 2006, aimed at politicians with no knowledge of dance. The dance world is now dealing with government ministers who undermine arts-based subjects in their public speeches whereas the majority of politicians have no idea about the level and amount of dance going on in their constituency. Furthermore, they have not thought about it in terms of public health, education or how popular dance is.

In the manifesto, written by Dance UK member and project manager Jim Fletcher, politicians are urged to make sure dance has the same status as music, maths and English in education. It encourages MPs to ensure primary schools deliver more dance activity, and that there are more affordable spaces for community dance. This sounds resoundingly positive however it now falls to the politicians to act upon the manifesto alongside Dance UK’s incredible work.

Upcoming Dance UK events

Dance UKDance UK, the national voice for dance founded in 1982 to tackle the big issues facing the dance sector, has organised an array of events suitable for budding dancers, students, choreographers and teachers.

‘Fundraising for Artistic Projects’ is a seminar for dance managers and self-managed artists as part of the Business of Dance training programme on 5 April 2013. The session will provide practical knowledge and information for self-managed dance artists, company dancers looking to develop their own work, and independent dance managers who want to develop their skills. Focused on will be the types of funding available, identifying local funds open to artists, an overview of Arts Council England Grants for the Arts funding and top tips on how to write successful funding applications.

The ‘National Choreographers’ Conference’, in previous years known as Choreoforum, will be held on 11 May on behalf of the Choreographers Professional Network. The National Choreographers’ Conference is the only open national event for choreographers, whether it’s film, commercial, contemporary, West End, opera, youth choreography or choreographic teaching. A committee of diverse choreographers steer the conference content by requesting speakers, offering a forum to share artistic debate, concerns and to network with fellow choreographers in a non-competitive environment, to share expertise and information. The conference will also include sessions for individual, agencies and training/higher education institutions that are involved in Choreographic Talent Development.

‘Nutrition and Touring’, on 8 April, is a new seminar aimed at company managers, artistic directors, rehearsal directors, touring dancers and dance science students and practitioners. It will feature the most up-to-date research and advice in healthy touring and nutrition for dancers. Speakers will include Mhairi Keil, Performance Nutritionist and Consultant with the English Institute of Sport, Jess Sayers, Company Manager, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance and Erin Sanchez, Healthier Dancer Programme manager, Dance UK in order to share knowledge and enable the attendees to learn from fellow dance professionals working in dance touring who strive to create healthy working environments in dance companies and theatres.

The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Medical Website

Rudolf Nureyev Foundation

The Rudolf Nureyev Foundation medical website has recently been launched, dedicated to dancers and the medical and health professionals who care for dancers. The website provides access to recent and archived articles from leading professionals in the field, in addition to listing up-to-date research and conference proceedings, resources and information and links to international specialist healthcare provision.

The website is currently administered through a partnership between Dance UK and the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation, having been updated as a result of a dance survey conducted to assess the existing digital resources in dance medicine and science. As a result of a successful collaboration with leading dance organisations, as well as a Medical Advisory Board of leading senior health and science professionals dance practitioners, dancers everywhere will be able to benefit from the website’s service. Whether they wear leotards and tights or tutus and pointe shoes, dancers will have access to much information which will aid them throughout their dance studies and beyond.

The website will also be developing the International Dance Healthcare Directory to provide a listing of health professionals with experience in treating dancers, which can be searched by location, name, dance style and in which treatment they specialise. As a result, the website will provide links to existing national listings such as Dance UK’s Medical Practitioners Directory.

Nureyev established the Foundation in 1975 as ‘The Ballet Promotion Foundation’, aiming to invest and manage the Foundation’s endowment fund and to distribute grants to beneficiaries. The Foundation also served to promote ballet through the support of individual dancers, or companies, and performances. The Foundation received its current name in 1994 and remained keen to help young and talented dancers through their studies and in the development of dance as a whole. In addition to this, the Foundation was renowned for supporting medical, scientific and humanitarian projects.

Dancers’ Career Development

Dancers' Career Development (DCD) LogoThe Dancers’ Career Development, founded in 1974, is a scheme which has been supporting professional dance for 38 years, helping them to make the transition from professional dancing to a new career by giving them the skills to continue working beyond dance as they hang up their ballet shoes. Initially The Dancers’ Resettlement Fund, it aimed to provide support to the dancers from the five Arts Council funded dance companies.

The organisation expanded its work in the 1980s to offer career support to all professional dancers in the UK. Today, the Company Fund provides for dancers who have completed a minimum of five years as a professional dancer with one or more of its nine contributing companies: Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet Theatre, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Rambert Dance Company, Richard Alston Dance Company, Scottish Ballet, Siobhan Davies Dance Company and The Royal Ballet. The Independent Trust, however, supports all professional dancers who have performed for a minimum of five years in the UK. Both the Fund and the Trust operate under the DCD.

The DCD offers a range of specialist practical, psychological and financial retraining and career support services, tailored to each individua’s needs, allowing dancers to select the support needed for a successful transition and fulfilling career path. In addition to this support system, the DCD runs a comprehensive outreach and workshop programme in dance schools, companies and commercial productions in order to encourage dancers to expect transition periods within and from their performing careers, be they full of leotards, character shoes, tap shoes or tiaras. With the economic climate dictating funding and job frequency, this is becoming increasingly important, not only to help dancers to retrain in hundreds of different careers post-performing but to maintain an arts-focused arts industry. A 2011 survey showed that 89% of retrained dancers are still working in the profession they retrained in.

The new Dance UK Dancers’ Mentoring programme, funded by Dance UK and in partnership with the DCD is open to mid career dancers who have been identified by their peers as future leaders. Of the 16 dancers who took part when the programme was run five years ago, eight have gone onto leadership positions in companies such as Phoenix Dance Theatre, The Royal Ballet, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Candoco Dance Company, Scottish Dance Theatre and Rambert Dance Company. This specifically indicates that not only is the dance sector full of fantastic performing talent, but also the talent to adjust and contribute in an equally as rewarding capacity.

Image courtesy of the DCD.

The opinions expressed in the above article or review are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of my employer.

Dance Science Clinics

Dance Science Clinics

The first phase of Dance UK’s efforts to open a dance injury research and treatment facility for professional dancers is set to open at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London, five years after it was first announced to be going ahead. Dancers can be referred to the clinic by their GP from anywhere in the UK as part of the National Health Service, offering encouragement that the arts world is finally being viewed as an equal to the rest of the world, and sports in particular.

There are two other specialist centres where dancers can receive treatment and therapy for injuries that many may not be aware of. The first is located at Laban, also in London, through their Dance Science department. They offer a range of treatments and therapies, many of which are about prevention, not just fixing broken dancers. The second is The Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries in Birmingham, which closed temporarily in October 2011 to those dancers who were not part of Birmingham Royal Ballet, but the centre is now open to all again. Dance UK hope now that the London based NHS clinic is something that will be replicated across the UK in order to widen access to either free or low cost injury treatment and prevention for professional dancers.

No matter the dancers’ background, be it wearing tutus and pointe shoes, or leotards and leggings, the new facility is a vital part of the dance sector. Providing dancers with specialised treatment, rather than the generic physiotherapy, for their injuries will mean that performing companies will become stronger as a unit and injury prevention will hopefully be at the forefront of minds within the sector.

The opinions expressed in the above article or review are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of my employer.