Creative Scotland's support for Dance

As Anita Clark, our Head of Dance, moves into a new role as Director of The Work Room, she reflects on developments in dance in Scotland.

Anita ClarkIt is important for dance to thrive as a vital part of Scotland’s arts, screen and creative industries and as an expression of our rich and diverse cultural lives.

The dance sector exists across Scotland and includes professional dance companies, organisations and artists who are all creating opportunities for people to take part in dance and experience dance as audience members.

Creative Scotland supports dance through our three routes to funding and by working in partnership with other organisations, local authorities and the Scottish Government. The following provides a snapshot of where our funding has gone in the part year for dance. 

In 2015/16, Creative Scotland awarded more than £4.5m to support dance through Regular, Open and Targeted funding routes.

Dance in Scotland is reaching maturity with vigour, confidence and a spirit of ambition- Anita Clark, Head of Dance

Regular Funding continues to enable a diverse range of dance companies and organisations to grow and flourish. Organisations such as Dance Base, The Work Room, Citymoves, Dance House, Indepen-dance, Plan B, Scottish Dance Theatre and Y Dance are all part of the portfolio of Regularly Funded Organisations.

Indepen-dance 4. Photo: Ian Watson 

We also increased support for distinctive choreographic work in 2015, bringing three artist-led companies into Regular Funding for the first time – Curious Seed (Christine Devaney), Barrowland Ballet (Natasha Gilmore) and Janice Parker Projects. These companies are developing work for and with a diverse range of audiences in Scotland and internationally, bringing leadership and fresh approaches to the making and presenting of dance.

Whiteout Trailer from Barrowland Ballet on Vimeo.

Audiences experience dance performances through venues and festivals and regular funding also supports a range of multi-artform organisations and festivals to promote dance as part of their programmes, including Edinburgh International Festival and Imaginate as well as a host of venues across Scotland including Eden Court in Inverness, Macrobert in Stirling, Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock and Edinburgh Festival Theatre. These organisations demonstrate a commitment to developing dance through their programming, audience development and creative learning activities.

Imaginate Festival Launch Large credit Jassy Earl 

The forthcoming development of The Creation Centre at the Briggait in Glasgow will provide a dedicated base for dance and a home for the rapidly expanding physical performance sector – including circus, street theatre, flying trapeze and other aerial skills.

Briggait Creation Centre - Reception Space 

Scottish Ballet (funded directly by the Scottish Government as one of the National Performing Arts Companies) presents a wide range of high-quality dance to audiences across Scotland, the UK and abroad, with strong classical technique at the root of all its work. The Cross Border Touring Fund, run in partnership with the Arts Councils of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, supports touring of large scale companies across the UK and recently brought Rambert Dance Company to Aberdeen and Inverness, as well as Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Rise Dance Festival recently took place at the beginning of May in the beautiful surroundings of Findhorn, Moray. Produced by Bodysurf Scotland, the festival presented a programme of world-class contemporary performances by internationally renowned artists. Dance Live in Aberdeen will be reaching its 10th anniversary this Autumn.

Company Wayne McGregor. Photo: Rick Guest 

Artist-led companies and choreographers represent a multitude of practices, embracing different dance styles and aesthetics. Many artists are involved in socially engaged work or community dance, creating dance opportunities for people across society. Through the rich diversity of their work, these artists provide the public across Scotland and, increasingly internationally, with a wealth of dance experiences.

Nijinsky's Last Jump. Photo: Susan Hay 

Dance companies and artists continue to create new work and perform for audiences throughout Scotland and internationally. So far this year, there have been tours across Scotland of And Now… (Plan B), Poggle (Barrowland Ballet), Nijinsky’s Last Jump (Company Chordelia), 5 Soldiers (Rosie Kay) and Breathe (White and Givan).

Breathe. Credit: Tommy Ga Ken Wan 

Still Motion’s interactive dance performance for young audiences, We Dance We Groove, has been performed Art Space for Kids, in Shanghai. Claire Cunningham was artist in residence at the Perth International Arts Festival as well as touring to other festivals and venues in Australia ahead of her new commission that will be premiered at Unlimited Festival (Southbank London and Tramway Glasgow) in September.

We dance, wee groove. Photo: Brian Hartley 

We have also supported artists at different stages of their careers to develop their choreographic practice and begin initial research into developing new work, including Tamsyn Russel, Skye Reynolds, Katrina McPherson, Thomas Small, Melanie Forbes Broom, Lucy Boyce and Luke Pell.

Opportunities to participate in dance have been expanded and developed through our targeted programmes including Time to Shine and Cashback for Creativity. These programmes aim to break down barriers and expand opportunities for all young people to get involved in dance. Projects such as Dance Base’s Great Feats, have developed partnerships with youth agencies to support young people from disadvantaged communities to raise aspirations through dance. We have also supported participation in dance through recent OPF funding awards to Skye Dance and Perth Dance Festival.

International reach and profile is critical for the development of dance and for the first time we supporting a Scottish presence at Tanzmesse 2016, the largest professional showcase of contemporary dance. The Scottish Project, led by The Work Room and Dance Base will sit alongside a wider co-ordinated UK presence being led by Dance 4 to promote the export potential of contemporary dance. In addition to this, building from the Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival and Glasgow 2014; Y Dance, Scotland’s national youth dance company recently travelled to Canberra in Australia where they took part in a two-week creative exchange with QL2, Australia’s youth dance company - building international relations and developing dance talent around the world.

Y Dance Destinations 

Anita said:

“It has been a real privilege to lead on dance for Creative Scotland, and previously the Scottish Arts Council, for almost 12 years and to experience the developments within the art form. A number of dance companies reach significant milestones this year including Scottish Dance Theatre celebrating its 30th birthday and Indepen-dance reaching their 20th year. Meanwhile, Dance Base has recently been accepted into the European Network of Dance Houses.

“It was fantastic to see Tramway launch Dance International Glasgow in 2015 and I look forward to the next edition in Spring 2017. It was significant that this new festival included work from leading disabled choreographers Claire Cunningham and Marc Brew, along with the dancers from Indepen-dance 4. These artists are fundamentally challenging perceptions around the dancing body and, through their work in Scotland and internationally, presenting a radical vision for inclusive dance.

“The people who make dance in Scotland happen are committed, passionate, enterprising and often pioneering in taking dance into new contexts. Overall, I feel that dance in Scotland is reaching maturity with vigour, confidence and a spirit of ambition".

This article was published on 31 May 2016