The Safer Dance Guide to recruiting a Specialist Dance Teacher

The Dance School Safeguarding Working Group is a collective voice promoting high standards of safeguarding in the Dance School sector in order to protect children and young adults.

They have produced guidance notes for primary or secondary schools seeking to recruit a specialist dance teacher which can be downloaded here.

These notes can be used to support the application and interview process, relating specifically to the pedagogy of teaching dance as a subject. It is assumed that Safer Recruitment and ID checks are already operational, and this guidance is in addition to those checks.

For more support and resources related to safeguarding in dance, go to www.dsswg.org.uk

Unanimous Returned To The Stage

Ten youth dance groups from across the island of Ireland came together and returned to the stage at The MAC, Belfast, on Sunday 24th April for our 10th annual youth dance platform, Unanimous. We welcomed Belfast Boys, Ohr Dance Company (Laois), Rachael Kealey Dance Academy (Derry/L’derry) and Youth Action’s Rainbow Factory (Belfast) for the first time and regular participants Connect Youth Dance (Enniskillen), Dublin Youth Dance Company, FYI Dance (Wicklow), Laois Youth Dance Ensemble, Limerick Youth Dance Company and Sutemos (Dungannon) who were returning to the event after the break.

The excitement at returning to live performance (Unanimous was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic) was very apparent with an electric atmosphere throughout the day. The young people took rigorous technical rehearsals in their stride, stopped for regular re-fuels in the green room, caught up with old friends and even managed a bit of sightseeing in the city centre!

As with previous Unanimous showcase events, the evening performance was a powerful and energetic showcase of work and the audience showed their appreciation throughout and in the feedback received. One audience member remarked, “I enjoyed Unanimous tonight because there were some great dance performances but even more because it showcased the value and joy of young people coming together to express themselves through art and movement. Bravo to all!”

Over the years, the Unanimous platform has continued to expand and help young people from the ages of 12-24 years from all over the island to get together in a professional theatre, develop skills, share their experiences and form new connections. Rachel Sheil, Artistic Director at Limerick Youth Dance Company said of this opportunity to get together, “Thank you so much for having us again and here’s to many more festivals together.”

The diversity of the line-up reaffirms DU Dance (NI)’s commitment to fostering dance talent and providing a supportive professional environment for dancers of all backgrounds. Caoileann Curry-Thompson, Acting Head of Drama and Dance, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented, “There was a great range of groups and styles and levels of dance. And the atmosphere was so positive and energising. I was thinking how remarkable it would have been when I was their age to perform in an event like that in a venue like the MAC. That kind of experience must have such a lasting impact on the young people.”

See below for a taster of the wonderful performances. Many more photos to come!

With thanks & credit to Jim Corr for the event photography.

U.Dance on Screen is open for submissions!

The U.Dance National Festival is celebrating youth dance on stage, on screen and online this summer, and applications are now open for youth dance films to represent Northern Ireland and Ireland at this special event.

You can create and submit a screen dance piece on film for consideration and should abide by the following:

> Feature dancers aged 11-19, or disabled dancers up to 25
> Be of 2-7 minutes in duration
> Have the rights to the music or use royalty-free music

(There is no upper limit on dancer numbers) 

Applications from Northern Ireland and Ireland should enter by 25 May 2022 by sending their completed films to Mags Byrne, Artistic Director at mags@dudanceni.com or call DU Dance (NI) with any questions on +44 (0)28 9023 0877.

Selected films will form part of the U.Dance on Screen National Showcases which will be broadcast on digital platforms and at cinemas including the British Film Institute (BFI), London.

Further information and guidance notes can be found on the U.Dance website.

#CulturalBridge participants together in person

Just before Easter DU Dance (NI) and Beyond Skin were delighted to host young people from our partner organisation VILLA as they travelled from Leipzig, Germany, to join us in a cultural exchange project, #CulturalBridge. The ten young people had met previously on Zoom to form plans for an environmental campaign but this was the first time they had met in person.

After a look around Belfast, the young people hit the north coast to get creative on beach walks and even a trip to Rathlin Island. Inspired by the beautiful landscape, they used music, dance and visual arts to explore climate action strategies and created artwork (see below) in response to many discussions on the environment crisis. They also made three short films for use in the campaign, which will be completed when the group next get together in Liepzig this July. More exciting collaboration to come!

‘Little Stranger’ showcase during Refugee Week

With Powerstone Entertainment and Tinderbox Theatre Company, and in partnership with Dungannon Youth Resource Centre (DYRC), we are delighted to be screening the ‘Little Stranger’ dance film in Dungannon at the end of June.

This youth led event – planned to coincide with Refugee Week from 20th – 26th June – will include the young dancers from Suteminis and Sutemos and young people from DYRC. Following a screening of the film, there will be a workshop and discussion around the issues addressed in the film of the impact of migration on young people.

Thank you to Mid Ulster District Council for funding this event.

Whilst this will be the film’s first screening exclusively in and for Dungannon, its premiere was at EastSide Arts Festival in Belfast in August 2021 to much acclaim.

Join us for an intergenerational performance

Alternative Energies – our intergenerational dance project – started in Autumn 2021 and has gone from strength to strength. We are delighted to invite you to join them for a short performance on Tuesday 14th June, 4:45pm at the Ramoan Centre, 3 Station Street, Ballycastle.

This project brings young people aged 16 to 18 years together with the elders of the Ballycastle area to meet, to chat over a cup of tea, move, share ideas, explore and create dance ideas together.

A young person currently involved in the project, said “The dance class is loads of fun, I’m really enjoying meeting new people and building friendships, everyone is so warm and friendly.”

At DU Dance (NI) we firmly believe that age is no barrier to dance and Dr Philip Johnson who leads the group said “There is great richness to be gained in an intergenerational dance class. It is a place of sharing between the generations that rarely happens outside the immediate family environment. The intergenerational class brings people together from all walks of life to share in the commonality of dance through: the joy of moving together, keeping the body in good health and creativity.”

Email Debs to book a seat at the performance at deborah@dudanceni.com.

Plans in motion to welcome Palestinian dance company to Belfast

‘We dance for life and freedom’ is the message Palestinian company Diyar Theatre carries to audiences through its performances. Their work combines Palestinian folklore with contemporary dance in a way that conveys not only a passion for dance but a commitment to revitalising its national heritage.

The twelve talented and committed dancers are keen to introduce their cultural and folk dance heritage to the world and, if – fingers crossed! – all visa applications are successful, we very much look forward to welcoming them here in Belfast this August.

During their visit, planned to coincide with the annual Féile an Phobail, the dancers will showcase folk dance (debkeh) and perform – for the first time outside Palestine – a piece choreographed by Royston Maldoom called ‘Taken’. This is centred around the testimonies of Palestinian children who had been – and continue to be – held, usually without charges, in Israeli prisons. The inspiration for Taken came from a television report, seen by Maldoom. It showed a young Palestinian girl called Tamimi, who, in an astonishing act of bravery, slapped an Israeli soldier who was trying to encroach on her family’s property. The piece also draws on personal testimonies of hunger strikes, detention in solitary confinement and their devastating effect on families. Its final scene of defiance and strength characterises the people that Maldoom says he has been privileged to meet during his visits to the Palestinian occupied West Bank and Gaza.

More details on Diyar Theatre‘s programme of events at Féile an Phobail from 4th to 14th August, including performances, social and family cultural events and of course the carnival parade, to follow.

Buzzing at the Easter Family Fun Day

The Hill of the O’Neill and Ranfurly House Arts and Visitor Centre hosted a wonderful Easter Family Fun Day on Saturday 16 April and our Suteminis and Sutemos groups were delighted to perform their new piece ‘Floating Through Space’ as part of the celebrations.

As well as performing to the crowd, Sheena, Director of the Youth Engagement Project, led an open, drop in workshop giving people a taste of what happens in a Suteminis session.

The young dancers had a fantastic time and enjoyed trying the other activities happening during the day.

Popping up at the Giant Family Day Out

What a fantastic afternoon we had at the Belfast Children’s Festival Giant Family Day Out on Saturday 12 March. With a powerful dance performance of ‘Do You Care?’ featuring rap artist Jay Suttin, our Belfast Boys and young carers popped up all over Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter and did a great job of entertaining the crowds at this annual event organised by Young at Art.

One dad commented, ‘This was a thoroughly brilliant thing today… Our youngest played a rugby match this morning and then spent this afternoon dancing like an absolute legend as part of this incredible group of boys. Thanks for giving him the chance to take part.’

‘Do You Care?’ is the latest is a series of short dance films that recognises and gives voice and emotional expression to young carers, raising awareness of some of the issues they face. The carers, who are aged between 13 and 16 years, embarked upon an intensive series of exploratory workshops which culminated in filming at locations chosen by the participants.

This project, in partnership with Barnardo’s NI, is part of our Building Bridges programme supported by BBC Children in Need.

Primary Schools Dance Festival is Back!

We are delighted to announce that our 2022 Primary Schools Dance Festival is taking place on Tuesday 24th and Thursday 26th May at Belvoir Players Theatre, Castlereagh.

The festival is a fun, exciting and non competitive event where children from P1 – P6 can share the dance work taking place in their schools. Joining the festival this year are Holy Rosary Primary School, Glenwood Primary School, Finaghy Primary School and Penrythn Prep. In the run up to the festival, workshops have been happening to support the schools in creating their piece for this year’s event.

There will be a special guest performance by DU Dance (NI) dancer and friend, Sean O’Neill with an energetic jazz routine punctuated with comedic twists created especially for the day.

The schools – and DU Dance (NI) team – are very excited to be back after a two-year hiatus for what will be the 12th year of the festival.

Thank you to funders The Honourable The Irish Society and Esme Mitchell Trust and Lidl Northern Ireland for refreshments.