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Animated Edition - Autumn/Winter 2016/17
Animated Autumn Winter front cover, credit: Mark Shreeve
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Focus on: 30th anniversary edition: stories of people dancing


It’s a real pleasure to introduce this special edition of Animated, to mark the 30th Anniversary of the organisation now known as People Dancing, and the pioneering work of some of the incredible people that helped shape our experience of dance as we know it today.

Community and participatory dance practices have been, and continue to be, a significant force for change. So much has been achieved in dance, through community dance, in the last 30+ years: it’s changed attitudes and perceptions, and challenged some deepseated notions of who can dance, and the validity of their dancing. This collection of articles tracks people’s diverse journeys through dance and in dance, past and present. Many of the people working in the field now started out participating in community dance. A virtuous circle, to be celebrated.

To situate this edition of Animated in time, it went to print on the day that the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election became known. A pretty big day, globally speaking. We’re post-EU referendum, witnessing both seismic geopolitical changes and human displacement on a scale almost unimaginable. The revolution in digital technology and information exchange is fundamentally changing the way we live and learn, and reshaping our experience and appreciation of ‘community’ in all kinds of ways. What extraordinary and uncertain times we find ourselves in.

At one of our Summer Schools I remember being asked to make a presentation about why I was still ‘feeling optimistic’ about community dance in society. This was in the wake of the financial crash of 2008, when optimism was feeling fairly thin on the ground. And yet, since then and in fact more than ever, I do feel optimistic about community dance, participatory dance, people dancing, or whatever you want to call it. I can feel this optimism from our friends and extended community dance family too.

Basically, for me, it boils down to this: no matter what, excepting some extreme circumstances, people will still dance, will still want to dance, and will still be able to dance. How can people dancing, in all their glorious diversity, be part of a solution – or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say part of the antidote – to some of the poison that exists in the world?

To quote Deborah Bull CBE, in her introduction to the 2001 dance documentary film Dancing Nation by Rosemary Lee and Peter Anderson:

“Dance gives us all – professional and non-professional alike – the opportunity to share an experience that is intensely human and, at the same time, out of this world. Dance is our common denominator. We’re all part of the dancing nation.”

I think that still stands, now and in thefuture. It’s important to record the history of community dance – ours and yours – before it’s rewritten in ‘lite’ form with some of the inconvenient truths (by which I also mean people) written out of the screenplay. It’s messy and magnificent. Let’s have it standing in plain sight, for all to see.

Chris Stenton
Executive Director, People Dancing

My sincere thanks to Scilla Dyke MBE for her expert guidance and curatorship, without which this special anniversary edition would not have been possible.

Cover credit: Mark Shreeve, 2016
In this issue
Community Dance Reflections
Dr Sara Houston, Chair, People Dancing
Welcome from Dr Sara Houston
On significant birthdays it is customary to celebrate the achievement of arriving there and of marvelling at the journey taken from first steps onwards
Photo: Suffolk Dance, Emlyn Claid Choreographic Commission
Lifting the lid
Scilla Dyke MBE, Former Dance Artist-in-Residence/Animateur and Founder Director, DanceEast/Suffolk Dance, 1982-1993, and Editor of Animated 1996-2002, lifts the lid on the groundbreaking work of some of the early pioneers of community dance. Often unspoken, these intimate and compelling insights from a diversity of practices, people and communities serve to illustrate how arts, social and political issues shaped dance practice and thinking in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s, influencing dance as it is today and asking what can inspire us now?

Jayne Stevens, photo: Rachel Cherry
The bubble that didn’t burst: dance animateurs in the 1980s
Jayne Stevens, Principal Lecturer, Dance, School of Arts, De Montfort University, explains the debt those of us who cherish and champion participatory dance today owe to those pioneering the art form 30 years ago

Photo: Nasmin Khanam
Taking the plunge: dance and diversity, 30 years on
Beverley Glean, Artistic Director, IRIE! dance theatre, speaks candidly on tackling issues of culture and diversity in the UK

Photo by: Alicia Clarke
Fundamentally embodied
Veronica Lewis MBE, Principal, London Contemporary Dance School, The Place, offers a rare insight into her early dance history and the role of gurus and mentors throughout her life in dance

Photo: Volker Beinhorn Fotografie, Bremen
The 'A' word
Choreographer Royston Maldoom OBE, shares a thought-provoking insight into how community dance practice, a once ‘fringe’ activity initiated by artists, has become mainstream, permeating every sector of civil society. But, he argues, have we lost the ‘art’ of dance, by doing so? 
Marie McCluskey OBE outside Swindon Dance, Photo: Dave Cox
Something in the air..?
When popular culture and dance cross paths, the result, Marie McCluskey MBE, Founder and Former Artistic Director, Swindon Dance reflects, is a dynamic explosion of the art form. Here she offers a glimpse into her lifelong journey in community dance from pioneering beginnings as a Dance Artist-in-Residence/Animateur to current day insights

Bisakha Sarker MBE, Photo: Simon Richardson
Lifting the collective spirit
Dancing together can bind us with a deep inner connection. Bisakha Sarker MBE, Artistic Director, Chaturangan, deliberates on how culturally diverse dance  can enhance the cultural and social fabric of people’s  lives and generate a collective sense of community.  This, she suggests, requires searching for and evolving an ongoing style of practice, both as a community dance leader and as a performer
Sangeeta Isvaran and the villagers at the Centre Valbio, Ranomafana, Madagascar. Photo: Dr Cassidy R
People Dancing?
Kate Castle petitions that in uncertain times dance as a community, and ‘community dance’ as a way of thinking about dance, has never been more urgent or relevant 
 Photo: Cast of the Mahabharata with Sujata Banerjee, director Nona Shepphard, actors Shobana Gulati
When one plus one equals more than two
As Co-Artistic Directors of Kadam, Sanjeevini Dutta and Sujata Banerjee forged a unique South Asian Dance Artist-in-Residence/Animateur collaboration that spanned the East of England. Together with Nikki Crane, former Dance Officer, Eastern Arts Board, they offer their recollections

Photo: Sheila Burnett; Stars are Out Tonight, Amici Dance Theatre Company
Wolfgang Stange, Founder, Director and Principal Choreographer, AMICI Dance Theatre Company has for  36 years been unafraid to challenge conventional attitudes to disability and the arts. By drawing on powerful themes, productions are inclusive of disabled and non-disabled artists and performers to reveal the strength, commitment and individuality of each performer. Here we discover  the building blocks of his integrated teaching and workshop process

Carol Brown, Photo: Callum Coombs
Biggest challenges, greatest love
Carol Brown, Founder and former Director, TAN Dance, talks about her unexpected journey from audience member to participant to artist practitioner and finally, Artistic Director, and her belief that we all have something special to give
Dr Rowan Smith, Photo: Brian Slater
Communicating contemporary astrophysics via contemporary dance? Deb Ashby, Director of Dance Manchester tells us how
Melanie Brierley with participants, Photo: Victoria Sedgwick
A guiding practice for community care
Dance artist and researcher into dance and Parkinson’s Melanie Brierley shares her thinking about how dance artists and participants act as a guiding presence to each other in creating a shared aesthetic and in illustrating good practice for  the care of people living with long term health conditions

Men & Girls Dance, Photos: Karen Robinson
Men & Girls Dance
David Harradine, co-founder and co-artistic director of Fevered Sleep, which celebrates its 20th birthday in 2016, airs some of the ideas and beliefs underpinning the company’s experimental approach to public engagement and participation