Fantastic opening of ‘Seen / Unseen’

Sharing some of the photos from last month’s grand opening of the Sutemos photography exhibition ‘Seen / Unseen’ which took place in the CRAIC Theatre in Dungannon on 5th JUne.

Friends and family came along to see the fantastic series of photos of the dancers in motion taken by Jim Corr (seen above with some of the group and Deborah Hamilton, Youth Engagement Director).

Our group, along with dance artist Christine O’Neill, had explored through dance the important topic of what we see on the outside compared to what we don’t see going on in the inside.

We are delighted that so many of the CRAIC Theatre’s audiences and groups – over 2,000 people – had the opportunity to see the exhibition in this busy and vibrant venue.  It will be on display in two other Dungannon venues over the next year.  Watch this space!

On Saturday there was a full house in The MAC Upper Theatre for the Belfast Boys film premiere.  Family and friends dressed up and walked down the red carpet to join the boys and watch ‘Tough to Be Calm’.

This year’s Belfast Boys programme focused on emotional well-being, hyperactivity and anxiety in young people, matters of real interest to our boys, and their ideas were used as a springboard for the film project.

The film explores how sometimes it is – and sometimes it isn’t – tough to be calm.  Often, whether boys are tough or calm can be viewed negatively so the boys enjoyed developing choreographic material that could be used in ‘tough’, hard edged movement in the urban city centre settings but was also utilised as a contrast in the ‘calmer’ woodland scenes in the leafy idyll of Belvoir Forest. As always, this project took ideas from the energy levels the boys bring to every session.

The audience gave the film glowing reviews.  Much fun was had and MUCH popcorn eaten!

Thank you to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

See below for the photos from the filming day:



Last week, we celebrated the end of another fruitful year on the Creative Schools programme as partners Blessed Trinity College, Belfast hosted a wonderful Tea Party for all involved, including Newington Day Centre.

This year’s project aim was to show the voices and faces of North Belfast through dance, portrait photography and creative writing.  The photography exhibition, entitled “The Story of Who We Are”, was facilitated by DU Dance (NI) friend Joe Fox and was on show in the school hall for all to see.   This intergenerational project has seen some wonderful friendships between students and the group members from Newington as they shared stories of growing up in this part of the city.

After a genteel cup of tea and tray bake, the peace was disrupted as Sheena and Sean had everyone dancing in their seats!  This was a great reminder of all the group has worked on over the past few months.

The afternoon rounded off with a quiz on North Belfast hosted very professionally by student Grace – who we know has a great future in public speaking!

Thank you to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Education Authority and Urban Villages for their support.




Over two days in May we delivered our 14th Primary School Dance Festival in partnership with Belvoir Studio Theatre.  Over 200 children from Belmont, Finaghy, Elmgrove, Glenwood, Holy Rosary Primary Schools and Penrhyn Prep took part and we were joined in the audience by the P3 class from nearby Belvoir Park Primary School.

During the morning, all the schools have time to become familiar with the theatre setting and learn the importance of lighting and sound, timing and spacing during their own rehearsal.  Then after much needed refreshments (thanks to a donation from Lidl NI) there is time to enjoy dance-themed crafts and outdoor games.   Before we know it,  it’s SHOWTIME!

Sheena’s fun warm up session (see above) is always popular – everyone has to get involved.  Then it is over to the children.  This year we enjoyed a wide array of dance styles, music and costumes and were mesmerised by hip hop dance and some fabulous Vogueing. On Day 1 we explored the globe with high energy performances from Bollywood and Waka Waka: This time for Africa and on Day 2 we met some ferocious lions, friendly Trolls and even travelled back to the Stone Age!

Once everyone had performed, the children could sit back and watch a uptempo jive from professional performer Mira Rendilheiro, captured below:

Each year we ask the teachers involved why the Primary School Dance Festival is important to them? Hear what they had to say:

To allow children to be creative and express themselves through dance and have fun! 

Dance is an important part of the curriculum and this is a great way to help children develop their skills. 

To increase a love for dancing in primary school aged children and boost confidence skills to perform in front of a crowd. 

We also ask what the legacy is for the children who are involved in the festival:

The children really grew in confidence and enjoyed every minute of it! 

Many were nervous but throughly enjoyed watching the other schools and saw how dance can be fun for all and not just girls!

The children’s confidence grew massively over the weeks that Sheena was in to visit our school and teach them the dance.

Their teamwork skills also progressed and it was a great sense of achievement for them to perform. 

And what about the children? Well, this participant sums it up perfectly:

I can actually dance! This is fun!! 

Thank you to Joe Fox for his wonderful photography.  Thank you to the volunteers who helped at the event, to funders Enkalon and Lidl and, again, to hosts and partners Belvoir Studio Theatre.

On the Saharan Plains with Belmont Primary School’s Lion King.

Glenwood Primary School’s P3 go back to the Stone Age.

Vogueing a la Finaghy Primary School.

Finaghy Primary School’s P1 all went on a ‘Summer Holiday’. Watch out for the shark!

Bollywood vibes with Glenwood Primary School’s P5.

Holy Rosary PS are full of joy as they perform Waka Waka: Time for Africa.

On Wednesday 5th June, the CRAIC Theatre in Dungannon will see our youth engagement project Sutemos mark the end of a great year of dance with a sharing of work for friends and family and the grand opening of a photography exhibition called ‘Seen / Unseen’.

The group of young people, along with dance artist Christine O’Neill, have been exploring through dance the important topic of what we see on the outside compared to what we don’t see going on in the inside.   Their ideas originated from experiencing first hand that social media can dramatically affect how we perceive the world and crucially how by portraying a bright and vibrant online appearance often we don’t see the real and dark lives behind the screen.

Together with the vast technical support and creative ideas of Jim Corr, a professional photographer who can take much credit for capturing many of DU Dance performances and events, Sutemos hope that the exhibition shows how even in the “unseen”  it is still possible to work together in the darkness.

After the opening in June, the exhibition will go on display in two other Dungannon venues over the next year.

Thank you to supporters Dungannon Youth Resource Centre and funders Children in Need.

If you would like to hear more about Sutemos or the exhibition, please contact

It was fantastic to see some great coverage of the latest phase of the Creative Schools Programme in the press last week.

This phase of the project has brought older people from Newington Day Centre together with  students from Blessed Trinity College in North Belfast for a series of weekly dance classes facilitated by our own Sheena Kelly and Sean O’Neill.

Watch this short film made by Arts Council of Northern Ireland on the project to hear what a real impact it is having:



Today is International Dance Day and so it feels apt to reflect back on our annual Unanimous platform held earlier this month.

Unanimous brings together some of the best youth dance groups from across the island of Ireland in a non-competitive arena. This year we were delighted that the National Youth Dance Company of Scotland performed as part of their UK touring schedule. We were also joined by Dublin Youth Dance Company, FYI Dance Club (Wicklow), Laois Youth Dance Ensemble, Youth Action’s Monday Night Club (Belfast), Ohr Dance Company (Laois) and High Points Youth Ballet (Belfast).  Of course our Youth Engagement Programmes Sutemos Youth Dance and Belfast Boys took to the stage too.

It was a fantastic evening compered by members of the Youth Steering Group.   Thank you to everyone involved; the commitment of every single young dancer – and the team behind each group – is just inspiring.

The feedback was really positive and the audience clearly enjoyed the evening:

“Gathering youth from different parts of the UK and Ireland to share their passion for dancing is so much more than just an event.”

“Wonderful to see the planning, practice, creativity, and collaboration that went into it.”

Unanimous continues to demonstrate how dance is a tool for facilitating personal and social development. When asked why youth dance is so important, audience members were keen to share:

“For friendship, expression, being themselves, exercise, and being involved in the arts.”

“It offers so many positive experiences from self expression, feeling good about oneself and getting good at something and feeling pride and new skills.”

“It gives them confidence, strength, ability and comaraderie amongst their peers. Our boy has completely blossomed since beginning with his dance troupe.”

Until next year!

Top left to right: Youth Action’s Monday Night Club; National Youth Dance Company of Scotland; Sutemos

Middle left to right: Dublin Youth Dance Company; Belfast Boys; Ohr Dance Company

Bottom left to right: FYI Dance Club; Laois Youth Dance Ensemble; High Points Ballet

Photo credit: Jim Corr Photography

Global Intergenerational Week – which aims to support the growth of links between young and older people – began yesterday and to celebrate it we are sharing the latest news from our intergenerational project Alternative Energies.

Earlier in April, the group (pictured above) performed Mobius, a new piece which explored whether we can experience time in a nonlinear way.   They have been working on this in the weekly workshops with the support and guidance of Philip and Rebecca and enjoy devising performances like this which resonate with people of different ages.

After the performance, the dancers shared how being part of this group has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing:

“Great for balance and mobility.”

“I am 83 years old and I can lift my feet more freely. Love it.”

“Great movement and music. Not to mention my only weekly exercise.”

and brings much joy to those who might otherwise feel socially isolated:

“Excellent craic. Great sense of community”.

“It’s like a second family.”

“Brilliant, great fun. 

“A very enjoyable experience.”

As usual the audience were full of praise:

“Best show yet – inter connectivity – free flow of actions – superb”.

“Very enjoyable. Beautiful, Brilliant. Well done everyone”.

“Beautiful to watch, quite emotive and most impressive performance of free flow movement”.

“Great performance, well done. Lovely dancing and good movements”.

“Inspirational and entertaining. Encourages me to join.”

Alternative Energies meet every Wednesday evening from 4pm – 5:30pm in Sheksburn Recreational Centre, Ballycastle.  Workshops are free.

If you would like to find out more about our intergenerational work, please contact






On Earth Day 2024, we are pleased to share how DU Dance (NI) are one of the steering group members of the Green Arts NI group.

Since 2019 the group has been collaboratively striving to diminish our footprint, exchanging insights and experiences through regular gatherings and collaborative initiatives, and supporting the city’s sustainability plans. The group will soon be setting up an Environmental Forum for the Culture Sector of Northern Ireland, looking at our own environmental impact, what needs to be done to improve and how the arts can impact this.

With a membership of almost 50 cultural and creative organisations and over 100 individuals across Northern Ireland including Oh Yeah Music Centre, Lyric Belfast, Stephen Beggs and Young at Art, Green Arts NI will be helping to shape the Belfast City Council Cultural Strategy for 2020-2030.

                                                                       (Mags Byrne with members of the collective.)

The group is calling for interested arts organisations and individual artists to join. To find out more, contact

Check out the brand new website HERE and you can follow the group on Instagram at greenarts_ni; Facebook Green Arts NI and Twitter @GreenartsNI

There was no better way to round up our dance artist training programme than to invite DU Dance Artistic Consultant and long-time colleague and friend Royston Maldoom back to Belfast.

15 local dance artists joined us just before the Easter holidays to delve deeper into their community dance practise and learn from Royston’s extensive experience working across the world, often in places experiencing conflict and hardship.

Talking about the programme, Royston said:  “It has been over 35 years since I delivered the first Ulster youth dance project at the Kings Hall in Belfast and I am delighted to be back working with artists who are at the forefront of community dance in Northern Ireland. It was a great experience to work with people who are eager to learn and enhance their practice and the participants gave themselves wholeheartedly to the workshop.”

After introductions, Royston shared the pivotal moments in his esteemed career which have informed his practise. From his youth dance days in Scotland, through developing his signature choreographic style to the steep learning curves of working in Adunga, Ethiopia.  And with  recollections of working alongside our Artistic Director Mags Byrne in Gaza, Palestine, he brought us full circle back to the the origins of our own organisation.

What resonated most with the group was how Royston’s approach to the work is focused on the artform; when he walks into a room he is the choreographer, the artist and his passion for the work must come across.  Critically he believes strongly that everyone in that room has the potential to be extraordinary and he meets them human to human not with the labels society too often uses.

“Great to have long held beliefs and theories strengthened and confirmed. Heartened to see the life changing effect of dance in action.” (Participant)

Over the course of the two days, Royston spoke about the importance of bringing the group to where you are, challenging the participants to raise their expectations and experience new styles of music and movement they may not normally access. This gave the group plenty to reflect upon and left them excited to jump back into their own practise.

“Meeting new people with the belief that everyone has the potential to be extraordinary. Don’t be afraid to try something with a group that is new to them.” (Participant)

In each of the dance artist training programmes, it has been very apparent how community dance artists need to connect with each other. In a role that requires us to output all the time we often don’t get a chance to reach out to others. This programme has created an informal network of artists who can share and connect with one another independently of the work we as a company do.

“Enjoyed the two days immensely. Lovely to make choreography with the group, human to human. Royston is inspirational. A privilege to be here. Moments come from the heart. Great reminder!” (Participant)

It was important to DU Dance (NI) that we invited Royston to be a part of this training programme as Artistic Director Mags Byrne says:

“Having worked with Royston for many years both here in Northern Ireland and internationally it was very important to us to bring him back to Belfast to reinforce our unique style of delivery and the need for this type of work. We started Dance United together first following the Adunga Ethiopia project before DU Dance came about in Belfast. As Artistic Consultant for the company Royston’s philosophy and approach has heavily influenced the work of DU Dance so it was the perfect way to complete this part of the programme.”  

Finally, we would like to say a big thank you to all of the community dance artists who have taken part in the programme. Each one came in open and eager to learn, share and connect and that made for a very special experience!