Déda 20 Years: All Dance and Diversity at Déda

This time last year I sat down at my PC to write an application to Derbyshire County Council for the position of Creative Producer for All Dance - a project designed to raise the profile and expectations of people with disabilities through Dance.

I excitedly wrote my tender as I had previous knowledge of what the project had achieved in 2012 and 2015 and was of the view that I thought Déda, in our 20th year in our Chapel Street home, could do a great job of creatively producing the project in 2017 and 2018.

Our application was successful and I began my role as Creative Producer for All Dance on 1st April 2017. From then it has been an amazing journey from setting up the groups to seeing people perform their work, to our final evaluation session with the artists who have worked on the project on 23rd March this year.

We quickly went about recruiting eight Lead Dance Artists and four support Dance Artists for year 1 of the project and brought on board recent BA Dance graduate Danni Chell as an intern to work on making the project as accessible as possible.

The artists working on the project came to a briefing session and workshop at Déda on 29th September led by two inspiring artists from Candoco Dance Company, who were performing the next day as part of Derby Festé.  This was an amazing session which hopefully stimulated the artists involved.

Delivery then took place in day centres and with service providers in all 8 districts of Derbyshire, including two open groups, one in South Derbyshire and the other for North East Derbyshire, based in Chesterfield.

The groups became distinct ‘teams’, which included Lead and Support Dance Artists, volunteers, Centre Staff as well as the participants themselves. Each group having up to ten half-day sessions, where they set about making dances for the two celebration events.

All Dance performance in December 2017. Image: Richard Richards

These events took place on 5th December at Déda in Derby (for the four groups from the districts in the south of the county) and 12th December at The Winding Wheel in Chesterfield (for the four groups from the north of the county). The groups contributed incredibly strong performances for each other at these events, and after each sharing I came away inspired and uplifted by the commitment and professionalism of the participants, as well as the centre staff, artists and volunteers that supported them to achieve this.

In addition there were two guest groups. Spiral (Advanced Performance Course at Level) who performed at both Déda and The Winding Wheel, as well as a duet from Dance Interaction (Derbyshire Virtual School) who performed at The Winding Wheel. These pieces along with the others, demonstrated that this work is as sublimely beautiful as any.

The spring of 2018 has brought a further five sessions with the groups, which have focussed on leaving a legacy in each particular location. The All Dance artists have been sharing their planning processes with the centre staff leads including ideas that can be used with the group beyond this project.

The great news is that we are going to continue both open groups throughout the summer months, ready for them to take part in year 2 of the project which is autumn - spring 2018!

On the morning of 23rd March we will be sharing of our success stories from the project and I think that they will be very varied and rich. I also want to get our thinking going as to the future of this work and how we can make it sustainable.

Following this we will all be attending a performance at Déda of Tim Casson and Friends: Night at The Theatre at Déda on the same day at 1pm, followed by a bespoke CPD workshop for the artists with Tim Casson and Friends at 3pm. This will be is a final moment for the artists to share their learning from the project whilst getting inspiration for their own practice.

All Dance Year 2 starts on 1st April – Contact us to get involved!

Clare Limb, Head of Dance Development and Learning at Déda

Photo above: All Dance performance in December 2017. Image- Richard Richards

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