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Animated Edition - Autumn/Winter 2016/17
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
Image: Dr Sara Houston, Chair, People Dancing
Dr Sara Houston, Chair, People Dancing
It has been 30 years since the creation of People Dancing, which has grown in tandem with the development of community dance in the UK. And we will celebrate, probably with cake and candles, next month. Yet sometimes there needs to be other markers of significance, more permanent, more thought provoking. 

This edition of Animated gathers together some of the pioneers of community dance practice, who began to engage with others through dance at the same time as the organisation which became People Dancing was formed. A celebration certainly, but, as these articles demonstrate, there is much to be learnt from them too. They are a reminder of the infrastructures that were put in place to allow for sustained dance engagement; the dance heritages and people that were influential to these pioneers, which go back further than 30 years; the connections between people who were visionary enough to grab hold of each other’s ideas to make them happen; the issues that concern people that still remain current and pressing; the joy that people feel then and now in moving and creating. 

Not all the articles want to look back. There is a sense of looking to the present and forwards. With experience garnered over 30 years or more, some of the authors invite us to think about community dance practices (and it is a plural. There is not just one practice.) The articles invite us to think  about dancing as an art form, its artistic imperative. They ask us to think about its diversity, about how we evidence good practice, how we may develop and nurture interest in dancing, how we deliver inclusively and with a view to inspire. 

This issue of Animated contributes to highlighting the important history of dance making and engagement in the UK. Dance history has its own canon. It is fair to say that community dance has not always been part of this canon, often working quietly, according to the needs of participants. Yet the history of dance in the UK over the last 30 years cannot be seen in isolation from grassroots practice. It is clear from some of the authors here of their influence on those who became dance artists, or other creative professionals. The three authors who write about their current projects are also testimony to the very interesting developments in thinking and practice in working with non-professional dancers. I am delighted that People Dancing is showcasing some of the inspiring talent that has produced such an interesting and rich tapestry of stories, their challenges and successes, their connections to the world, to diverse peoples and artistic forms. Community dance is the story of dancing in the UK. 

Dr Sara Houston
Chair, People Dancing

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Animated: Autumn/Winter 2016/17