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Perspectives on Practice

Perspectives on Practice is People Dancing's new online programme of artist-led events and learning opportunities, discussion and debate, networks and spaces to gather, (re)connect and share. Perspectives on Practice runs throughout 2021 as our profession and the communities we work with begin to focus on recovery, and beyond to rejuvenation.

Find out more below!

Further information

  • Closed captioning (CC) / live transcription is available at all our online events and will display speech as text on the screen, as it occurs. Please indicate on the booking form if you would like to access closed captions during the event you are booking onto
  • If you have booked onto an event but can no longer attend we ask that you let us know so we can release the place to someone else as our events sell out and we run waiting lists. No-shows at three events means that in future we reserve the right to prioritise others on any future booking you make.
Friday 11 June 2021, 10:00 - 12:00

Perspectives on Practice: online adventures in dancing with Parkinson’s

for artists and practitioners working in the field of dancing with Parkinson's to share ideas, challenges and opportunities

Join us for the 4th in our series of online events for artists and practitioners working in the field of dancing with Parkinson’s


Left - Julie Symmonds, photographer: Laurette van der Merwe. Right - Jen Cunningham, photographer: Amy Sinead. 

Bringing the outside in - nurturing a creative practice with nature

Within this session Julie Symmonds and Jen Cunningham will offer an insight into what influences their creative practice with content exploring interactions and observations with the natural world. Julie will draw on inspiration from South Africa, her homeland, using rhythm, body percussion and storytelling – engaging the dancers' senses to create an embodied experience. Jen will share elements of her work based upon somatic practice, spoken word and movement created in direct response to time spent in specific environments. Jen will offer approaches to enliven creativity and foster sensory connections between natural elements and movement - bringing the outside in. 

What you will need:

  • A sturdy chair
  • Water
  • Comfortable (and warm) clothing
  • Paper and pens/pencils.

This event is free of charge to People Dancing Members and £5.00 for non-members. Presented as part of the Live Well & Dance with Parkinson’s programme.

Bookings for this event are now closed 

Booking deadline: Wednesday 09 June 2021.

>   About Julie Symmonds and Jen Cunningham

Julie Symmonds is a freelance dance teacher and a Certified Dance for PD® teacher. Julie operated a successful dance studio in South Africa until 2019 when she and her family relocated to Scotland.

Julie is one of a select group of practitioners who are authorised to train dance teachers in the Dance for PD® programme. She was honoured with the Stanley J. Wertheimer Fellowship in 2016, awarded by David Leventhal.

Jen Cunningham is a dance artist, originally from Somerset and now based in Edinburgh and has been involved in delivering dance for people living with Parkinson’s since 2012 and is currently lead dance artist for the Dance for Parkinson’s Scotland programme, based at Dance Base, Scotland. Jen leads weekly classes, training, and provides support and mentoring to fellow dance artists with the network across Scotland. 

Jen’s creative practise is lead by her love of the outdoors; exploring the intricacies of that which connects us all together, nature within her practise she hopes to spread awareness and ignite curiosity of our relationship with natural environments. 

Tuesday 15 June 2021, 10:00 – 12:00

Perspectives on Practice: Access, Intimacy and Retrieval; Creating Your Own Access Rider


My Heart Is Mine as IT Is Yours and Ours, Alexandrina Hemsley (2021).

Through an anti-ableist, anti-racist perspective, Alexandrina Hemsley will lead a session on dancers' wellbeing, working conditions and access to creative institutions. Workshop participants will be invited to think-feel through their own access requirements and needs within a conversational and relaxed space.

Drawing from a social disability model, we will attend to the ways in which constructs of institutional and systemic injustice and harm can be disabling and the impacts that this disabling has on a dancer's health and well-being.

This workshop extends an emphasised invitation to Black and disabled dance artists. 

This event is free of charge to People Dancing Members and £5.00 for non-members.

Bookings for this event are now closed 

Booking deadline: Midday Friday 11 June 2021.

>   About Alexandrina Hemsley

Alexandrina Hemsley’s creative practice lands in the fluid spaces of dance, choreography, writing, facilitating and advocacy. Their interests are both enduring and in expansive states of flux – or just in connection/relation to the processes within life and within living. They turn towards the sensorial, the bodily, the multiple subjective positions of self – and self in intimate relation to self and other-selves – as ways to find breath and voice amidst the unjust and inequitable.

Alexandrina has recently founded her own organisation Yewande 103. Yewande 103 formalises the past 10+ years of her work in the contemporary dance field as a choreographer, performer, writer, mentor and educator. Yewande 103 lives as compassionate, embodied advocacy in action, through choreography, writing, production, artist support and the development of mental health discourse.

Alexandrina Hemsley. Photo: Richard Moore
Thursday 24 June 2021, 15:00 - 16:30

Perspectives on Practice: Art at the Heart: Placing dance at the heart of a community project


'Cotton’ . Photo: Jenny Reeves.

Jenny Reeves from About Time Dance Company creates memorable dance experiences inspired by her local heritage, rooted in heart of the community. Jenny’s work is committed to sharing forgotten stories, often those of women, and brings to life lesser known stories and places, using these as a hook to engage non-arts audiences and participants.

During this session Jenny will offer suggestions on how more of us can delve deeper into local places and spaces and discover the breadth of possibility on our doorsteps. Discover how place-making can encourage participation and a connection to the arts, and how community participation can be woven into the core of artistic projects.

This event is free of charge to People Dancing Members and £5.00 for non-members.

Book your place here

Booking deadline: Tuesday 22 June 2021.
>   About Jenny Reeves

Jenny Reeves was born and bred in Lancashire and has always had a strong affinity with her home and developing a stronger sense of place and belonging. She returned to Lancashire after a number of years training and dancing professionally across the globe. The forgotten and hidden stories from the North of England called her back to begin a wealth of creative work bringing light to our lesser known heritage, bringing it to life with dance. In 2016 Jenny created About Time Dance Company to further explore her relationship with dance and community.
Jenny’s first professional touring work 'Cotton' is a captivating exploration of Lancashire Mills through dancing, music and clogging. The work has toured the North West region sharing tales from Lancashire’s Mills at festivals such as the National Festival of Making, a number of heritage sites, schools and care homes and has touched the lives of many people who have a family connection to the cotton industry.

Jenny has since created a number of performance projects which can be seen on the Company’s website. Jenny also continues to work as a dancer, most recently in ‘On the Patterns We Gaze’ a time-specific choreography by Ellen Jeffrey and in 'Passage for Par' by Rosemary Lee in 2018. Jenny has a growing interest in environmental landscape art which is influencing her forthcoming creations. 

Photo credit: Jenny Reeves. Photo: Robin Zahler.

Tuesday 29 June 2021, 15:00 - 17:30

Perspectives on Practice: Where is the line? Ways to support autistic and D/deaf artists 

Clare Adam (left) and Lesley Howard (right), David Thomas Adam Photography.

Come and share in our journey as we as disabled artists navigate to find our place in the world, in a world that isn’t always designed for us. Many of the challenges we’ve faced come from a lack of understanding and knowledge around invisible disabilities. We want to use our experiences to help educate others on how they can best support autistic and/or D/deaf dance artists. 

In this workshop participants will get to meet Clare and Lesley, new disabled graduates via a mainstream setting. Participants will get to know about their unique partnership as D/deaf and autistic practitioners and learn methods and techniques in working in Deaf and autistic friendly ways in dance practice. This informal presentation style session will incorporate a Q&A for participants. 

This event is free of charge to People Dancing Members and £5.00 for non-members.

Save the date - bookings open Tuesday 15 June.

Booking deadline: Thursday 24 June 2021. 

>   About Clare Adam and Lesley Howard

BSL: Introduction:

Disabled Dance Artists Clare Adam and Lesley Howard, are recent graduates from The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance.  They enjoy creating interactive works to teach life-skills through a multi-sensory approach. Aiming to simply make people smile through their movement and friendship, they value the importance of disabled voices within Dance, wanting to use their own experiences to educate other Artists and inspire young disabled people. 

Tuesday 29 June 2021, 9:30 - 11:00

Next EYDN (Early Years Dance Network) meeting: An opportunity for dance artists and practitioners working in Early Years settings to meet and connect

Photo credit: Small Things Dance, photographer Leila Romaya.

Improvisational and somatic dance practice for early years in clinical and care settings with Lisa Dowler, Artistic Director, Small Things Dance Collective and creating engaging and accessible online content for children and families with SEND with Sam McCormick, Head of Dance, Flamingo Chicks.

This EYDN meeting focuses on working with children with SEND. Lisa will lead a practical session focussing on her practice developed at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital which explores touch and somatic approaches to developmental movement with very young children supporting their creative expression, development and wellbeing. Sam will lead a session on creating accessible, engaging online content for children with additional needs, SEND and their families. She will support EYDN members in exploring simple and effective ways in which they can make their digital work more accessible and inclusive.

Places on this Zoom event are FREE and are open to anyone signed up to the Early Years Dance Network (EYDN) newsletter.

Save the date - bookings open Tuesday 15 June.

Booking deadline: Thursday 24 June 2021.

>   About Lisa Dowler and Samantha McCormick

Lisa Dowler is an independent dance artist, researcher and Somatic Movement Educator, inspired by Contact Improvisation, Instant Composition and Body-Mind Centering ®.  In 2006 she became Alder Hey Children’s Hospital’s first Dance Artist in Residence. This long term collaboration includes one-to-one and small group somatic dance sessions with infants, children and young people; large-scale public to intimate bespoke bedside performance; two research studies; a Somatic Dance App and most recently during the Covid pandemic, nature-inspired dance films and socially distanced performances.

She also led projects for Dance Art Foundation in care settings including children’s hospices and in 2013-15 was part of an EU wide project ‘SPARKS’ researching disability and BMC® with early years. As a senior lecturer in Dance at Edge Hill University 2007-2015 Lisa’s teaching centred on the relationships between nature, the body and wellbeing. Currently she is a consultant on an AHRC funded cross-disciplinary academic network of artists and health practitioners exploring health, dance, somatics and technology.

Here you can read Lisa’s articles: Improvising on the ward - describes how deeply children in hospital show her the way and Invisible duets: multiple modes of documenting the significance of dance to health - reveals the approaches Small Things have successfully developed to document and evaluate the effects of their practice at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Liverpool.

You can download the smalldances app - an educational tool designed for parents and caregivers to explore improvisation and somatic dance practice.

Samantha McCormick is a freelance dance artist, including as Head of Dance for Flamingo Chicks. She has over 15 years of professional experience in community dance practice, particularly around inclusive practice and dance for health. Find out more about Samantha here.

Flamingo Chicks is inclusive community giving all children, including disabled children and those with illnesses such as cancer, the opportunity to enjoy dance and explore movement alongside friends. We also provide a vital peer support network for parents and carers, intergenerational volunteering, global outreach and advocacy! Flamingo Chicks is a community tackling social isolation using dance as a mechanism. 72% of parents and carers say they are now better able to cope with the demands of caring for a disabled child. 94% told us Flamingo Chicks has made them re-evaluate what their child is capable of. Flamingo Chicks' virtual classes are free and available for everyone.

Monday 5 July 2021, 13:00 - 15:00

Perspectives on Practice: online adventures in dancing with Parkinson’s

for artists and practitioners working in the field of dancing with Parkinson's to share ideas, challenges and opportunities

Join us for the 5th in our series of online events for artists and practitioners working in the field of dancing with Parkinson’s


The Original Spinners. Photo: Rachael James.

The Original Spinners ‘The Good Ship Zoom’

Join The Original Spinners for a viewing of their short dance film ‘The Good Ship Zoom’ created with their ‘Fresh Arts’ Dance for Parkinson’s group. This will be followed by a practical workshop that explores methods and approaches to creating choreography and recording movement and song for a zoom film.

The film includes voice work, dance, choreography and demonstrates the learning, creativity, connection, hope and possibility that arose from the challenge of adapting our class to an online environment. Join us for a playful journey through our creative endeavours. We will ride the high seas, dive underwater, watch aquariums come to life and sing Sea Shanties all to a great soundtrack! The session will be led by Rachael James along with Sophie Turner and Rachael Walsh.

You will need:

  • A sturdy chair
  • Water
  • Comfortable (and warm) clothing
  • A wooden spoon
  • 2 x large feathers if you have them, if not then something else that you can use as a prop that creates an extension of the arm, so that you feel like you have wings!

This event is free of charge to People Dancing Members and £5.00 for non-members. Presented as part of the Live Well & Dance with Parkinson’s programme.

Save the date - bookings open Monday 21 June.

Booking deadline: Thursday 1 July 2021.

>   About The Original Spinners and the artists

The Original Spinners/Rachael James

Rachael James is a community dance artist and founder and lead artist of The Original Spinners, a community dance company that creates playful participatory performance and workshops for all ages and communities. I work collaboratively with other artists to deliver company projects and workshops.

At the heart of my practice, and consequently The Original Spinners, is a love of the feeling of freedom that dancing brings and the belief that with the right environment, permission and influences, we can all dance.

Whilst my work is influenced by elements of contemporary dance, ballet and clowning, the core of my practice is dance improvisation. Music is a very important element of my work and sessions are done to carefully curated soundtracks that encourage freedom in movement.

Since 2010 The Original Spinners have created happenings and walkabouts, large-scale, intergenerational and care home performances and community engagement projects. We have a specific interest in Dance for Health and currently lead Dance for Parkinson's sessions for Fresh Arts at Southmead Hospital, and at the Trinity Centre. We also deliver weekly movement sessions for adults with learning disabilities from Misfits CIO and deliver ward-based dance for the elderly and people living with dementia at Southmead Hospital.

Rachael will be leading the warm-up and creative improvisation exercises throughout the session.

Rachael Walsh

Rachael Walsh is a community dance artist and performer, based in Bristol. She trained at London Contemporary Dance School, Dartington College of Arts and DanceVoice Therapy Centre. Taking part in The Original Spinners’ short course in 2012 reignited her joy and passion for dance and she has been working alongside Rachael James since 2013, assisting in the delivery of projects and workshops and teaching our choreographed work. She has been assisting in the delivery of Dance for Parkinson’s since March 2017. Rachael will be teaching one of the choreographies that appears in the film and leading you in a ‘Zoom’ flocking exercise.

Sophie Turner

Sophie Turner is a creative arts practitioner, dancer and drama therapist who specialises in arts and health. She regularly collaborates with The Original Spinners and has been delivering the ‘Face and Voice’ section of our weekly Fresh Arts Dance for Parkinson’s workshop since 2017. During the session Sophie will be leading you through facial and vocal warm-ups and teaching the Sea Shanties that appear in the film.

Postponed - later date to be confirmed

Perspectives on Practice: How to connect and engage with nurseries and primary school settings


Photo credit:Jo Cone.

This workshop with freelance dance artist and primary dance specialist Jo Cone will introduce processes and practices which will support dance practitioners in creating ‘offers’ of work which meet the needs of local nurseries and primary schools.

The session will not cover creative content of offers but will support you to get started or support your current practice to become more sustainable within this setting. It will also direct you to other resources for further support.

Jo will be available for follow up support in her role as one of the coordinators of the Primary Dance Network. Jo will be offering mentoring later in the year through her ACE funding.

This event is free of charge to People Dancing Members and £5.00 for non-members.

Booking: This event is postponed - later date to be confirmed

>   About Jo Cone

Jo Cone - upon graduating from Chichester University with a BA Hons in Dance and Related Arts Jo worked as a freelance dance artist locally and nationally creating choreographic work, delivering workshops and projects to adults and children with and without learning disabilities as well as older adults in stroke rehab and living with dementia. 
Delivering training and cross curriculum projects in primary schools and nurseries, and becoming a Mum led her to create Doodle Dance, a specific approach which combines anatomical and neuroscience, developmental research, dance, arts and play to promote well being in children alongside their care givers.
Recent success in receiving Arts Council Funding means Jo is able to further develop Doodle Dance offering support to other artists through the FUEL COLLECTIVE. Writing the book ‘Making a Move’ with fellow artists Claire Pring and Louise Jaggard has led her to create the MAM team and become joint coordinator of Primary School Dance Network. Her current research into sustainability is being shared through the network and in further books and webinars, benefiting artists to sustain their work now and beyond. Jo is also currently researching, writing, creatively devising to expand the resources and opportunities to children, parent/carers, nursery staff and teachers and taking the work into new settings, supporting more children to ‘Make their Mark!’. Jo has recently been appointed to One Dance Uk’s Primary Advocacy Panel.

You can connect with Jo via