Great feedback on the Community Dance Artist Training

For the past thirty years, DU Dance (NI) have been committed to working with the Northern Ireland dance community to provide exciting opportunities for personal growth, support with developing creative solutions to artistic challenges and, perhaps most importantly, collaboration with fellow practitioners in community dance.

So earlier this year we were excited to announce that the first of our community dance training events would take place on 14th and 15th April 2023 with no other than the Yorkshire-based Gary Clarke Dance Company!

Sheena Kelly, DU Dance (NI) Community Engagement Artist, shares her motivation for creating this training opportunity:

“Community dance artists often feel isolated as they travel across the country to bring dance to diverse communities. With limited opportunities for them to connect with one another and develop their practise, DU Dance NI felt it was important to start those conversations and give community dance artists the opportunity to have time to be selfish and nurture themselves. We were delighted to invite Gary Clarke Dance Company to the first of our training programmes especially tailored for those working in the community. His philosophy of how he connects the community to his work is inspiring and left us all with much food for thought moving forward. We hope this is just the start.”

In April a small group of 13 community dance artists, each at different stages of their careers and working with a wide range of communities in Northern Ireland, joined Artistic Director Gary Clarke himself and GCC dancer Shelley Eva Haden in a short residency at The MAC. Over the two days, Gary and Shelley generously shared the company’s particular way of engaging with communities through their professional productions, explored issues artists may face and gave practical examples of how to bring real communities onto professional stages.

Community Dance artists are constantly giving to the communities they work with so this training was important for them to feed their practise, nurture themselves and connect with other dance artists working in the field. Feedback from the participants was really positive:

“I left the weekend feeling refreshed and energised, I gained lovely new energy to keep going, that I am on the right path and that there is a community of Artists working in NI, so I am not alone. I felt supported and encouraged.”

“I was able to reflect on my purpose, rethink what it means to interact and be a part of a community, and carry that with me even after the workshop.”

The legacy of these incredibly enriching few days will be felt widely as the training not only impacts the artist but each community they work with. Keep an eye on our website and social media for other opportunities for professional development coming up later this year.

Images: Jim Corr Photography