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Animated Edition - Summer 2006
From the editor
Ken Bartlett, Creative Director, Foundation for Community Dance
This issue of Animated continues the series of articles curated by Scilla Dyke from pioneers of Community Dance. Maggie Semple reflects on how community dance has been an important part of her life, and how she applies its lessons in her current roles. Gordon Curl argues for the importance of the intrinsic value of community dance and the importance of a unique community dance aesthetic, whilst Nikki Crane reveals how dance is as important to her 'as the air we breathe'.

Following the Foundation for Community Dance members' meeting in Leeds in February and picking up some of the ideas expressed in Donald Hutera and Chris Thomson's articles in the last issue, we decided to explore the current usefulness of the term Community Dance. Does it continue to provide an adequate description of, and representation for, what we do? As a sector of the dance industry with forty years of practice and theoretical development behind us we are strong enough to raise the question and seek to address it as a challenge.

We have sought to reflect perspectives from the different countries of the UK and from different communities within dance. What is clear through all the articles is the principled set of values that bind community dance into a recognisable entity. As Frank McConnell from Scotland writes 'The values I discovered inherent in community dance and which have remained with me through my professional life were fundamentally concerned with the word itself - to bring people together in a common unity to celebrate a certain joy which the uniqueness of dance affords us, and that in doing so we have the opportunity to enrich ourselves, our understanding of one another and the worlds in which we live.' Margaret Ames, Artistic Director of Dawns Dyfed in West Wales, explores the difficulty of applying a concept that has an ideological basis in a language context in which the word community is only a recent addition. Debra Slade of Walsall Creative Development Team describes the shifts in agenda that led them to change their name but reasserts their commitment to their original values. Alysoun Tomkins questions whether 'initiatives such as Centres for Advanced Training or Gifted and Talented may be moving the community dance movement towards different values.' However, she concludes that community dance has 'developed as a coherent strategy, a discipline, a way of working with a unique set of perspectives which makes it identifiable. If there is a shift in the aims and purpose of community dance which may generate a need to rename this area of dance, or if there is a concern that community dance practice can be bettered, then these are discussions which need to be had before consideration is given to removing or replacing the word community.' No doubt this debate will go on as we rub up against and forge relationships with different sectors with different values and different ambitions for dance, however what is clear is that the values base for the work is extremely robust and continues to guide artists, their practice and the connections they make between people and their dances.

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Animated: Summer 2006