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Yorkshire Dance

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Breaking out the Rainbows

Wed 27 June 2018
Part of: Into the Light at LGBT50 | Performing Gender | Gender Moves
Gary Clarke's Into the Light - Hull - 29 Jul 2017 © David Lindsay

Inspired by our experience of taking part in Hull UK City of Culture 2017 LGBT50 celebrations, Yorkshire Dance has been working hard over the last year to become an LGBT+ friendly organisation.

Developing Into the Light with Gary Clarke and his 50-strong cast allowed us to see first-hand what a huge difference the piece made in raising awareness of LGBT history; increasing visibility, especially for the trans community, and fostering new allies.

One of the cast told us, “None of us sees gender or sexuality, we see kind souls, lovely human beings who we class as friends. We will continue to support them and challenge discrimination.”

We’re now striving to bring this activism to Leeds. In March we welcomed Mermaids UK who ran Transgender Awareness training for our staff. Since then, we’ve changed signs in our building, converted to gender neutral wherever possible and had more discussions about making our performances and dance sessions accessible. Lauren, our Facilities Manager, even hand-made rainbow bunting to hang outside our building to mark Performing Gender week.

In May, our new Gender Moves project brought members of the Leeds LGBT+ community together to enjoy a series of movement workshops, to meet the five artists from European project Performing Gender and watch their final performances.

One of the participants in Gender Moves, during the Performing Gender week, said, “I think this sort of thing is important to Leeds as I guess we’re quite an emerging queer place.”

It’s not just our LGBT+ audience which is growing; we were interested to learn from our annual survey that 13% of our staff identify as LGBT+. This is significantly higher than the national average and testament to our ongoing efforts to be an inclusive employer.

With a year of LGBT+ activism under our belt we’re delighted to announce that we will be running our first big dance event as part of Leeds Pride 2018. Yorkshire Dance’s Rainbow Ceilidh, a modern take on traditional ceilidh dances, will take place on 2 August in the lead up to Pride weekend.

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