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Voice and Presence... the story so far
Date posted: 19 October 2017
Launched last spring to acknowledge, amplify and celebrate the influence on participatory dance of women of the African Diaspora, People Dancing’s Voice and Presence edged past its half-way point, in October 2017.
Gladys Agulhas. Photo by Rachel Cherry
So, what’s been happening with Voice and Presence (V&P) so far? Here’s a mid-stage summary of its progress:

June
V&P features in People Dancing’s Summer 2017 Animated publication, putting Artistic Director Gail Parmel on the front cover.

July/August
V&P producer and People Dancing Associate Artist Louise Katerega takes up her place at the annual Urban Bush Women (UBW) Summer Leadership Institute (SLI), at NYU Tisch School of The Arts, New York. Louise, who got the chance to meet up there with UBW Artistic Director Jawole Jo Willa Zollar, had been inspired to apply for a place and UBW scholarship after witnessing UBW at the Serendipity UK conference, ‘Hidden Voices: Black Women in Dance’, held in Leicester in May 2016. The SLI, delivered in collaboration with The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB), focused on ‘Understanding Internalised Racial Oppression and How It Manifests in Our Artistic Community’, with Louise the only UK delegate. You can catch this year’s culminating performance on YouTube.

September/October
V&P prepares and presents its own forum at People Dancing’s international conference, staged at Tramway, Glasgow on 3-5 October. This sees 11 artists of colour, including Louise Katerega, working at the conference – either speaking, performing or organising. Five of these conference contributors are focused on the conference thread: ‘Identity, Community, Action: How Who We Are Becomes What We Do.’ They are:

Vincent E. Thomas – An Urban Bush Women Facilitator, from Baltimore, USA
Gladys Agulhas – An independent dance artist from Johannesburg who works mostly with children and disabled people
Project X – Two artists, Mele Broomes and Ashanti Harris, and producer Rhea Lewis, all part of a new generation of pro-active artists of colour, all based in Glasgow. Further thanks go to Project X for bringing to conference freshly-minted performances commissioned from Claricia Kruithof, Kasumi Momoda and Erick Valentin Mauricia, plus musicians.

October – 10 December

The V&P online survey, ‘Untold Value?’, is now available to access here to complete by 10 December 2017. ‘Untold Value’ is for anyone who leads dance work in community or education settings and identifies as female, with full or partial heritage from the African Diaspora.  Further information on the survey is also available here.

The survey aims to get a snapshot of this work, both current and planned and to get people’s views on both. A free online report on the survey’s findings will be posted in spring 2018. This will help make the case to funders, employers, academia and government when it comes to valuing the work.

The survey is mostly multiple choice and easy to do, taking as little as 20 minutes to complete. Contributors’ options range from remaining anonymous, joining the V&P partner mailing lists and offering to take part in a telephone interview.

There are also opportunities up to the end of 2017 with our V&P partners:

One Dance UK survey of DAD sector
Serendipity Choreographer's Course
State of Emergency Artistic Directors Retreat
ACE dance and music.

Photos show (top) Claricia Kruithof, performing at the People Dancing international conference, Glasgow, October 2017, commissioned by Project X and (right) Gladys Agulhas. Photography by Rachel Cherry.