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Animated Edition - Spring 2016
Emily Dobson, Anthony Middleton and Polly Motley, Simon Birch Dance, Shoreline. Photo: Steve Tanner
Focus on: practice & current issues in participatory dance


2016 has been a year of reflection for us here at People Dancing, and for me personally whilst taking part in a recent panel discussion entitled British Community Dance: Past, Present and Future alongside the brilliant independent artist Cecilia Macfarlane and Linda Jasper MBE, founding Director of Youth Dance England.

The event, hosted by Jayne Stevens and the Cultural Exchanges Festival at De Montfort University (DMU), was a response to People Dancing’s 30th anniversary. Way back in time, People Dancing (then named Community Dance and Mime Foundation) was based at Leicester Polytechnic (the forerunner of DMU) and supported by them through a formative period of development, so this was a nice connection back.

As the subsequent discussions unfolded, a couple of things struck home. First, that the values of community dance and participatory arts more broadly are as strong now, perhaps in some senses or at least in some areas stronger, as they were when the original pioneers set out on their journeys. All three of us talked quite differently about community and participatory dance, but shared commonality around some of the core values around diversity, inclusion, equality and cooperation that underpin our work.

The second was a reminder about the power of reflection, and the importance of making time for it. On reflection (!) it sometimes feels like one of those things we encourage other people to do, whilst not always doing it ourselves.

We’ve tried to echo the notion of reflection in this Animated, and are thrilled to present a suite of articles about dance having an impact, making connections through and across communities, and being a catalyst for positive change. Authored by diverse artists and change-makers working in participatory dance, we cover a diverse range of cultural and community contexts, and dance practices: health and wellbeing, working with migrant communities, dramaturgy in participatory dance and performance, to name just three. Many thanks to all our writers for their contributions to this edition, and to the team at People Dancing for pulling it all together.

Chris Stenton
Executive Director, People Dancing

In this issue
Big Dance Pledge
Jon Beney on a break but still directing! Photo: Andrew Billington
Big differences through dance
Jon Beney is one of a team of 18 artists delivering Big Dance Pledge training to professional artists and teachers for Akram Khan Company and People Dancing. He reflects upon his career working in participatory settings and how Big Dance has been significant for him
Case study: Big Dance Pledge 2016
Louise White is a dance artist based at The Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead and leads Let’s Dance, an older people’s dance group. Having signed up to this year’s Big Dance Pledge, Louise shares with us her approach to using the online resources and developing a version of Akram’s choreography that’s unique to the group. 
Dance & education
Helen Yates, Dance BA (Hons) University of Bedfordshire. Photo: Amalia Garcia
Higher Education forging futures for communities dancing
Fiona Bannon is Chair of DanceHE the representative body for higher education departments teaching and researching dance in the UK. Here she reflects on its role in advocating for dance, a discipline ideally suited to investigate and articulate the social, cultural and political centrality of the arts to the quality of everyday life 
Dance & health
Participants in performance, The Alchemy Project. Photos: Pari Naderi
A powerful catalyst
Carly Annable-Coop, Director, The Alchemy Project, reflects on a pioneering dance in mental health project that is transforming people’s lives 
Dance & Parkinson's
English National Ballet, Dance for Parkinson’s in Oxford. Photo © Rachel Cherry
A profound impact
Kiki Gale, Director, Dance for Parkinson’s Network UK underlines the value of sharing, developing and exchanging good practice to deliver a high quality dance experience for people with Parkinson’s 
Teacher Simone Sistarelli with participant Sarah Webb, Popping for Parkinson’s. Photo:Wilkie Branson
Popping for Parkinson’s
Dancer, doctor and dance and health researcher Keir Philip and medical student Flora Malein illustrate the benefits of popping for people living with Parkinson’s 
Dance education
A place I call home, Migrations Europa Festival. Photo: Mario Scotto
Migrations Europa Exchange
Simona Scotto is a dance artist and choreographer who specialises in dance education and performance for over-55s. She is the Director and founder of Counterpoint Dance Company, Rehearsal Director of Sadler’s Wells’ Company of Elders and an Associate Artist at Cubitt Artists. Her latest work, funded by Arts Council England, is Migrations Europa Exchange
Co-Mission, State of Emergency. Photo: Hannah Anderson-Ricketts/ Meraki Fitness
Dance and disabled people connecting through culture
As State of Emergency clocks up 30 years as creators and innovators in the fields of dance and music production, Louise Katerega, Inclusive Dance Adviser for their latest initiative, Co-Mission, offers a behind the scenes look at nine weeks in Deptford that made dance history – and an awful lot of people very happy 
Anthony Middleton, Simon Birch Dance, Shoreline. Photo: Steve Tanner
Sure lines? Reflections on dramaturgy in participatory dance and performance
After a galvanising conversation with emerging dance dramaturge Miranda Laurence, Dance Artist and Lecturer Ruth Pethybridge reflects on her own new role as dramaturge with Simon Birch Dance, what this means for her evolving practice and how the role raises particular questions and opportunities for the participatory dance sector 
In practice
Participant with Rebecca Thomas, Sense dance workshop, Birmingham Hippodrome. Photo: Rachel Smith
So, what’s your REAL job?
Rebecca Thomas reflects on life as a freelance dance artist and her journey, embracing the highs and lows of the lifestyle with a sense of purpose and drive 
Women in dance
Caroline Thompson in Denise Rowe’s She Who Walks, Dartmoor National Park. Photo: Denise Rowe
Five questions for five women
Journalist and curator Donald Hutera gets the low-down on women making waves in the UK’s independent dance scene