Yorkshire Dance

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Six new Dance Entrepreneurs join the team: a reflection

Wed 20 October 2021
Part of: Artist Support | Dance Transports 2010s-2023

In June 2021 six emerging dance artists joined the Yorkshire Dance staff team, as part of the government Kickstart scheme, aimed to find employment for those out of work and aged 16 – 24. 

We were joined by Alex Garland, Drew Gibson, George Swattrigde, Gerard Headley, Megan Pennington and Shirani Brook, and have been delighted by the talent and diversity of their aspirations and practice. Four had previously trained at NSCD including Verve; one at Roehampton/Jasmin Vardimon Company (JV2)  and one had developed their practice as part of Dance United Yorkshire. 

The premise of their six month employment with us was to equip them with the skills to set themselves up as freelancers from December 2021. Their 25 hour-a-week employment with us entails (1) their own creative research (2) forming a performance ensemble and (3) working alongside the organisation’s departments (including fundraising, producing, community practice and marketing). The cohort also engage in regular national training with the Kickstart dancers at Dance East (Ipswich) and South East Dance (Brighton). 

These six young dancers quickly charmed the Yorkshire Dance team with their intelligence, passion and generosity. Weve had some impactful new-sparkmoments, for example with artists Bakani Pickup and Tammy McLorg, inspiring new curiosities and ways of working. 

With support from Ione Barton (Youth and Community Dance Manager) who is managing this project, the cohort have excelled in support the Yorkshire Dance team. George is helping Programmes Director Hannah Robertshaw to deliver a youth dance conference at the end of this month, Shirani is working on social media content, Drew is supporting Development Manager Rachel Kingdom in fundraising; Gerard and Megan have got stuck in with Creative Projects Producer Kirsty Redhead supporting ‘Company of People’ and the ‘WE Wonder Festival’ in August, and Alex has been working with the Youth and Community team to deliver projects and sessions across Leeds. In addition to this, many of the artists have been invaluable in delivering public facing events, notably our Climate Encounters Festival in July and most recently, the ‘Children and Their Grown Ups’ showcase. 

With mentoring from Theo Clinkard, the group are now developing a work in progress sharing on November 19th at 7:30pm. The evening will include snippets of solos, duets and group work, including a piece with older adults being created by Alex and Megan. We hope you’ll be able to join us!

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these inspiring new dance leaders and we are currently working on a second cohort to start before Christmas. We wish we could always have emerging artist on the team; it has been an absolute joy to have an injection of talent and youthful energy like this.


Here are some quotes from the Dance Entrepreneurs:


“Working at Yorkshire Dance has been a great stepping stone into the industry. Collaborating with the five other talented artists has not only been a fantastic learning experience, but also helped us form connections and friends for life. I am so proud of what we are creating. A highlight for me is being a part of the Dance On and Youth & Community teams. These experiences have definitely shaped my path and interests as an artist.”


“Yorkshire Dance has created a space for me to grow and develop my practice as an early carer free-lance artist by allowing me to explore fundamentals such as events management, artistic planning and professional development within an arts organisation. It’s been a pleasure to make such strong connections and friends across the entire team and I feel confident in navigating the industry with their support.”


“Yorkshire dance has offered space to truly explore. The environment and people possess such a charming and creative energy, it’s infectious. I am very grateful for all that they have done, and continue to do.”


“I think that kickstart is a great scheme. I feel extremely lucky that I was given this opportunity as everyone at Yorkshire Dance has made me feel nothing but welcome and comfortable as well as encouraged.”


“After the pause and stillness endured throughout the pandemic, Yorkshire Dance has offered me the space to come alive, feeling energised and artistically inspired again. Being part of the organisation has also opened up a whole new avenue for me. Getting to grips with community/ older adults practice and getting a real insight into the job roles and responsibilities of the artistic team. This new knowledge and wisdom gained from the team at Yorkshire Dance has motivated me to go forward and work as an independent dance artist, continuously expanding and evolving my artistic practice and portfolio. Making me hungry for what’s next…”

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