Scotland’s dance sector to be represented at Europe’s largest dance trade event

Published: 20 Jul 2016

Solene Weinachter and John Kendall in Plan B for Utopia by Joan Cleville Dance, Photographer: Nicole Guarino

Scottish dance artists and companies look to take advantage of potential new international markets for the dance sector at International Tanzmesse nrw 2016, Europe’s largest dance trade event (31 August – 3 September 2016), in Düsseldorf, Germany.

The bi-annual, four-day gathering features a performance programme with performances from Scottish based companies Joan Cleville Dance and Mystery Skin. The event includes a bustling trade fair, and a series of debates, information sessions and open studio sessions which provide artists and choreographers the opportunity to share their new emerging creations with fellow dance professionals from around the world. 

Marking the first time that Scotland has presented a co-ordinated presence at the festival along with other UK partners, the Scottish delegation includes choreographers, performers and producers - Belinda McElhinney, Emma Jayne Park, Jennifer Phillips, Karl Jay Lewin, Kim Simpson, Leigh Robieson-Cleaver, Rob Heaslip, Susan Hay and Tony Mills – representing various companies across Scotland including Scottish Dance Theatre, Bodysurf Scotland, Dudendance, Barrowland Ballet, Curious Seed, Cultured Mongrel Dance Theatre, All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre, Marc Brew Company, Room 2 Manoeuvre and Tramway’s Unlimited Festival.

Dance artists and members of The Work Room Saffy Setohy and Rosanna Irvine will also be attending.  The delegation will be supported by representatives from Creative Scotland, The Work Room and Dance Base.  

Laura Cameron-Lewis, Head of Dance, Creative Scotland, said: “We are proud to support a diverse range of performers to attend and showcase at Tanzmesse 2016, the largest dance marketplace in the world. Scottish artists are recognised across the world for their meaningful and emotional aesthetic, and Scotland now has an international reputation for work by disabled artists. Dance changes people’s lives and is open to anyone to experience. Dance artists in Scotland are endlessly inventive in creating ways for us to explore our humanity and reconnect with our bodies.”

Creative Scotland is partnering with The Work Room and Dance Base to promote Dance From Scotland at the Tanzmesse nrw 2016. This is part of wider focus on Dance in Great Britain led by National Dance Network, Dance 4, UK Trade & Investment, British Council, Arts Council England and Wales Arts International.  Dance in Great Britain celebrates and promotes the export potential of UK contemporary dance within an international dance market.

On attending Tanzmesse nrw 2016, Barrowland Ballet’s Executive Producer, Belinda McElhinney, said: “The opportunity to experience the creatively nourishing Tanzmesse festival, whilst meeting with international peers from around the world is invaluable. We can place our organisation and our work within a wider cultural context and meet with artists and programmers to discuss inspirations and potential future collaborations.”

Scottish Dance Theatre’s Artistic Director Fleur Darkin said: “We are all about working with inspiring people and working collaboratively with new and emerging artists in the fields of music, design and the visual arts. Tanzmesse is a hive of creativity that allows the sharing of our ideas, work and practises with our peers from all around the world. The fantastic networking opportunities create a dynamic dimension to this international meeting place and are invaluable in assisting with developing new international partnerships and new collaborators.”

While Room 2 Manoeuvre’s Tony Mills, commented: “By attending Tanzmesse 2016 we wish to use it as an opportunity to continue developing reciprocal international partnerships with arts organisations. Our primary focus will be to begin conversations with Nordic and other European organisations, venues and producers to bring our new work, Without a Hitch, to their attention. This would be with a view to developing touring opportunities in 2017/18.” 


Image: Solene Weinachter and John Kendall in Plan B for Utopia by Joan Cleville Dance, Photographer: Nicole Guarino

Media Contacts:

Sophie Bambrough, Media Relations & PR Officer
T: 0131 523 0015

Dance4: Alex Broughton, Marketing & PR Officer
T: 0115 924 2016.

Notes to Editors

About the Scottish Delegation

Karl Jay Lewin

Karl Jay Lewin is and independent choreographer and performer, currently collaborating with composer and performer Matteo Fargion and Creative Producer Steve Slater. Their new work, Extremely Pedestrian Chorales, will premier in Spring 2017.  Karl is Artistic Director of Bodysurf Scotland – rural based arts organisation delivering quality dance and arts activities for local and visiting audiences. He curates and directs Rise, an annual festival of dance and contemporary performance. Karl is co-founder of Moray Culture Café and is an active member of the local and national arts sector.  Find out more:

“I’m interested in relationships and working with inspiring people - whether artists, presenters, producers or audiences.  So, while I look for quality work to programme and opportunities to develop and perform my own dances internationally, I gravitate towards people who are as curious about me as I am about them. In my experience, these relationships are more fulfilling, lead to great work and rewarding projects.”

Jennifer Phillips

Representing: Jack Webb, Dudendance, Rob Heaslip, KaSt Dance Company and Fuora Dance Project.  Jennifer Phillips is a freelance producer and project manager, currently joint Artistic Producer at Woodend Barn, a Regional Fellow of International Society of Performing Arts, a director of Castlegate Arts in Aberdeen and co-founder/director of MiniFest, a bi-annual festival of work for young audiences.  Jennifer is experienced in project management, marketing, fundraising and audience development, and has a background as a producer and programmer of dance including as Director of the DanceLive Festival and Artistic Director/General Manager of Citymoves Dance Agency. Prior to this, she worked with Aberdeen International Youth Festival, Abderite Theatre, Warwick Arts Centre and Chichester Festival Theatre.

“I am delighted to have been given this opportunity to attend Tanzmesse, which will enable me to develop my contacts and networks further, and therefore better support the artists I am working with to develop avenues for future collaborations, to tour their work internationally and to create opportunities for more international partnerships”.

Belinda McElhinney

Belinda McElhinney is Executive Producer for Barrowland Ballet, which is built around the artistic work of choreographer Natasha Gilmore. Belinda produced Tiger and Tiger Tale, the first of the companies work to tour internationally into Europe, Africa and Asia. Belinda has also produced Poggle, Whiteout and Little Red as well as the company’s large-scale participatory intergenerational projects Bunty & Doris and The River part of Culture 2014. Prior to joining Barrowland Ballet, Belinda produced multi art form Refugee Festival Scotland.

Leigh Robieson-Cleaver
Leigh Robieson-Cleaver is a dance producer based in Edinburgh, Scotland.  From 2009, she worked with David Hughes Dance and Catalyst Dance Management (Dance Base) where she developed a wide range of projects including shows for children and young people to site-specific pure dance art installations and numerous contemporary dance productions which have toured the UK and internationally.  In 2015 Leigh was appointed as producer for Curious Seed, an Edinburgh-based company creating engaging, thought provoking and uncompromising dance theatre which places collaboration at the heart of its practice, and tours widely internationally with their acclaimed work for young audiences, ‘Chalk About’.

“As the largest professional gathering dedicated exclusively to contemporary dance, Tanzmesse offers unprecedented access to networking, meeting peers, seeing work and broadening horizons; as well as enabling a highly rewarding professional development experience, it will also facilitate the opportunity to connect with new and existing international contacts for Curious Seed.”

Emma Jayne Park 

Representing Cultured Mongrel Dance Theatre and Associate Artist with The Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

Carrying the innate values of hip hop culture whilst exploring new territories in dance theatre, Emma makes socio-political performances and installations as a catalyst for deepening dialogues and encouraging social change.   Founding Cultured Mongrel as a means to impact the sector beyond simply touring work, she brings together unique combinations of artists to generate original concepts for touring, participation and innovation. Known for touring anywhere with a double plug socket Emma aspires to work equally in urban and rural environments, continually connecting with places in a 'permanent visitor' capacity. 

“Attendance at Tanzmesse will provide an essential opportunity to meet new collaborators for #TheSoloFilter whilst connecting with artists exploring a parallel practice that may contribute to the research.  #TheSoloFilter is a research practice exploring authorship, ownership and critical discourse through inviting people to remake a performance into the piece they wish they had seen.”

Kim Simpson

Representing Shift and associated dance artists, Tramway’s Unlimited Festival, Unlimited Impact, All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre

Kim Simpson is a Glasgow-based independent producer. Current work includes Tramway’s Unlimited Festival and All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre. From 2012 – 2015 Kim was Associate Producer and Programmes Manager at The Work Room, Scotland’s artist-led membership organisation for independent dance artists. Through her company, Shift, Kim has worked on the producing and development of performances, programmes and organisations across dance, theatre and experimental performance as well as delivering projects for companies such as Festivals Edinburgh and IETM International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts. Kim is a board member and adviser to Superational, an emergent digital tool for crowdsourcing, crowdfunding and publishing creative projects.

“It’s a privilege to represent Tramway, All or Nothing and the Scottish dance community at International Tanzmesse nrw this year. I’m eager to connect with people in dance around the world, discovering opportunities and making links for those that I work with now and in the future.”

Tony Mills

Tony Mills has worked with Freshmess Dance Company, State of Emergency, Off Kilter, Iron Oxide, Curious Seed, David Hughes Dance Productions, All or Nothing, Derevo and the international streetdance show, Blaze. He runs his own company, Room 2 Manoeuvre, which produces performances, live events and delivers education activity. New work for 2017 includes the Nordic-Scotland hip hop theatre co-production, Without A Hitch.

“By attending Tanzmesse 2016 we wish to use it as an opportunity to continue developing reciprocal international partnerships with arts organisations. Our primary focus will be to begin conversations with Nordic and other European organisations, venues and producers to bring our new work, Without a Hitch, to their attention. This would be with a view to developing touring opportunities in 2017/18.” 

Rob Heaslip

Rob Heaslip Dance is based in Edinburgh and works on a project-to-project basis, collaborating with individual artists to establish a fresh and enthusiastic approach to creating work.  Led by Rob Heaslip, the company’s choreographic style is characterised by fluidity of movement, articulation, a complex approach to partnering and an organic structure to the creative process. Their works seek to explore relationships and responses elicited amongst a group gathered in close proximity.  Within his process Rob conjures a focal point to create movement based upon the play of cause-and- effect in human collective mentality. This enables a creative practice that is explorative, flexible, and open to organic and sequential creativity.

About International Tanzmesse nrw 2016

The International Tanzmesse nrw hosts the largest professional gathering dedicated exclusively to contemporary dance. The International Tanzmesse nrw 2016 will take place in Dusseldorf, Germany from Wednesday 31 August – Saturday 3 September. Find out more:

About The Work Room

The Work Room is an artist-led, membership organisation committed to supporting independent artists working in dance in Scotland. Find out more:

About Dance Base

Dance Base, Scotland’s National Centre for Dance, encourages and celebrates the potential for dance in everyone. Providing classes and workshops for the community, masterclasses and residencies for professional dancers and an extensive programme of participation work, Dance Base reaches out to inspire wellbeing and creativity, and cultivates a future for dance locally, nationally, and internationally. Find out more:

About Dance4

Dance4 is an internationally recognized dance development agency nurturing new ideas in choreography. With a unique voice in the UK dance sector, Dance4 supports international and UK artists to develop new ideas in choreography alongside the public as participants and makers.  Dance4 provides leadership in Nottingham and the East Midlands, working in partnership to connect artists and communities to create extraordinary experiences for all. Find out more:

About National Dance Network

The National Dance Network is a network of 26 UK based organisations whose primary role is the development of dance in the context of presenting, programming and commissioning. Find out more:

About Creative Scotland
Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here.  They enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. Find out more: