University of Salford and Dance Manchester.
Dance Manchester is Greater Manchester’s central dance organisation who works to increase high quality dance activity to under-represented communities, run creative projects throughout the region and offer advice and information to dance artists and practitioners. They specialise in developing dance for the outdoors and unusual spaces and produce the biennial ‘Urban Moves International Dance Festival’ .
The University of Salford and Dance Manchester have worked together since 2007. The relationship was born out of the mutual aim to develop and cultivate the dance ecology of Greater Manchester and has been centred on the sharing and exchanging of resources. This mutually beneficial partnership has, served to both enhance and support projects that engage the regional community, nurture and sustain artists and their creative exploration, as well as providing ‘value added’ opportunities to the Universities Under Graduate Dance students.
Moving Dance Forward
Moving Dance Forward ran between 2014 and 2015 and saw six North West Organisations work together; those organisations were: Dance Manchester, MDI (Merseyside central dance organisation), The Lowry, The Unity Theatre, Contact (Manchester) and the University of Salford.
The project, and associate dance artist scheme, was ACE funded and led by the two central dance organisations, Dance Manchester and MDI. The scheme was developed in recognition of the dire need for professional dance artist support and development in the North West. The other partners were approached in respect of prior partnerships and due the shared aim of wanting to continue to develop a vibrant dance artist community.
The scheme supported 4 mid-career artists in both their artistic development and performance production. One of the main objectives of Moving Dance Forward was to allow the artists to occupy themselves with their own artistic development without the constraints of delivering what is perceived to be needed and wanted by an audience or commissioner.
The artists were given tailor made packages to suit their individual needs, some focusing within a couple of organisations and other others taking advantages of the resources of more.
The resources offered by the University were: staff, students, the curriculum, research, facilities.
- · Use of 1 dance studio from 9.30am to 5pm for 3 months throughout the year There is a national shortage of quality dance studios and costs for hire can be very high.
Curriculum and Students
- · Technique class every day during the 1st semester Regular professional technique classes are a shortage in the North West; dancers hold portfolio careers, it is difficult to commit to the delivery and/or attendance of regular classes, yet continued training is implicit to the development of a dance artist. The artists were offered entry into the daily student classes.
- · Performance Project Choreographer. It might be considered contentious to consider the students as a resource? In this instance an artist had expressed the desire to develop their choreographic skills on an ensemble but the practicalities and cost of getting a group of dancers together had proven to be impossible. Every year the dance programme commission a visiting choreographer to create a piece of work on the students, on this occasion the commission was given as part of the universities offer to the scheme and allowed the artist valuable R&D time with an ensemble to inform future practice
Research and Staff
- · Performance Opportunities. One of the dance artists who is also a musician has an interest in combining both disciplines in their work. A showing of the artists reconstruction of John Cage’s Water Walk (As considered by a dancer) resulted in the artist being invited to perform their own work at Sonic Fusion the Universities International Music Festival resulting in the work being seen by a new audience
- · Observation and Feedback. The University co-ordinator for the scheme worked as an ‘outside eye’ in the creative process of the above work, engaging the artists in discourse about their process to enable a deeper and conscious understanding of the creative choices being made.
The University received a range of opportunities to enhance the students experience in exchange for the resources given.
- · Performance Project. The students had the experience of working with an artist and creator with a rich background of experience in performance, choreography and dramaturgy. A 30 minute performance was created which was performed as part of a triple bill with North West Graduate Company, 12 Degrees North
- · Rehearsal Observations and Workshops. Students and staff had access to observe the rehearsal process as well as taking part in a workshop that focused on the key themes and methods of the work.
- · Master Classes. Students took part in masterclasses lead by the artists, giving further understanding to the artists’ techniques and creative processes.
- · Careers and Advice Workshops. Students participated in workshops where the artists shared their experiences of the industry as well as giving practical information about funding, working freelance, social media presence and networking.
The partnership served to develop pedagogical approaches; embedding work based learning into the curriculum and fostering a professional environment for in which the students to work.
As the School of Arts and Media prepare to move to their new premises, New Adelphi, for the new academic year, and with the appointment of Professor Stephen Davis Moon as the Director of the Cultural Campus, this is both a practical and strategic time to look at developing the partnership with Dance Manchester. Up until now, the partnership has existed on an individual level between the director of the organisation and the course leader of BA Dance. There are discussions about Dance Manchester delivering modules and the possibility of a jointly delivered Graduate Programme. We also are eager to work together on the conception and delivery of new projects.
Two of the associate artists from Moving Dance Forward are dance artists in residence for the academic year 15/16. The University continues to support them through the use of studio space and the artists offer a range of master classes, rehearsal observations and careers advice in exchange.
The Programme Leader of Dance has continued to offer CPD places to local industry professionals to attend master classes from visiting artists. This contributes to the development of local artists as well as providing networking opportunities for the students.
Please note that this is not a full evaluation of the project including all partners, artists and outputs.
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