Rachael Matthews, a fan of the CUBE café bar's jacket potatoes!

University of East London student Rachael Matthews talks about her week long placement at Déda


University_of_East_London_logo.svg.pngHi! I’m Rachael, a BA (Hons) Urban Dance Practice student at the University of East London.

I’m here with Déda for a week’s intensive placement, and then for the day on March 6 for Interface17.



So, this is me..

I was born and still live in Norfolk, its beautiful but I wouldn’t say exciting. From my window you can see nothing but fields! I’ve always been determined to move to London, so I did! It has been an amazing and three years living there as a student, everything I could of hoped for, but also expensive! So I decided after graduation it is time to see what another city could offer me, and sure enough I found Derby and then Déda.

A picture of the exterior of Déda at night

I looked through Déda’s website, trying to get to grips with the MASSIVE variety of things they do and offer, and decided this would be a perfect place for me to gain an understanding of what the arts industry within Derby has to offer and in turn what I could potentially offer it.

I’ve had an extremely busy and varied week here at Déda, upon arrival all the staff were really welcoming and friendly so it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable in the office and with all the staff. I have had the opportunity to get involved and work with professionals in so many different departments within Déda all week gaining a real feel and understanding of the organisation and what it stands for.

This week at Déda has been invaluable. It has given me the opportunity to put what I’ve learnt in my degree into practice on my own in a professional sense. I’ve tackled challenges and learnt a lot about myself and my abilities. Every member of staff happily went out of their way to share their knowledge with me and ensured I got the most out of this placement week as possible. I absolutely love the passion and enthusiasm from the staff, students and dance class attendees and teachers it fills the building. Déda is an exciting and busy hub for dance and Derby is lucky to have such a venue.

Here is what I’ve actually been up to this week;


  • Getting familiar with Déda’s brochure and business plan.
    This gave me a better understanding of the organisation and I also had the opportunity to ask my mentor Heather any further questions I had. 
  • For lunch I tried a jacket potato from the CUBE Café Bar’s new menu
    (It was delicious!!)
  • Disability awareness training.
    This was run by Martin Austin from Nimbus Disability. The training explored what terminology is deemed correct and preferred and why, disability and the law, and how disability is and should be defined. I learnt a lot from this training session and its really nice to see how Déda apply it.
  • Commercial class.
    In the evening I went Déda’s commercial class taught by Shane Whitlam. We danced to a new song by the Chainsmokers, I really enjoyed the choreography and the way Shane taught the class - he was so enthusiastic and encouraged everyone to just let go and absolutely go for it! The class was welcoming and I would definitely recommend it regardless if your new to commercial and want to give it a go or if want to progress further.


  • Observing Alice Marshall (Vale) teaching the first year BA (Hons) Dance students.
    They were in the process of putting together their re-creation of ‘Beach Birds’ by Merce Cunningham. It was really exciting to see their re-creation and how they work. The students are so lucky to have performance opportunities to put their skills into practice as well as the access to watch such a variety of professional performances happening so regularly literally at their campus!
  • For lunch I was super adventurous and got another jacket potato from the CUBE Café.
    (clearly I recommend it!)
  • Creating a programme template for Interface17.
    I’ve never done anything like this before and it sounds a simple job… And it is, once you get your head round double sided pages and the A4 pages folding into A5 with everything still being in the right order! Once I figured that out I got really stuck into trying to create an interesting looking programme and really enjoyed the task.



  • Observing a meeting about Derby Festé.
    I observed a meeting between Steven Munn and Ashley Lewis about Derby Festé. This gave me a massive insight into Derby Festé, in terms of their plans for this year as well as what it does for the community, why it is so important and something to be celebrated. It also allowed me to see the extend of involvement Déda has within the event.
  • Another jacket potato for lunch?
    I actually went for a halloumi pesto and beef tomato toasted sandwich - equally as delicious!
  • Sitting in on Jump and Incompany’s class.
    The students were getting ready for the performance at Interface17 and after reading their programme notes on the piece it was really nice to see them perform it and watch Isobel Davis and Alice Marshall’s teaching techniques.


  • Introduction to Marketing with Heather.
    I spent the morning learning all about marketing techniques and strategies, looking at target audiences and audience development as well as social media, email, postal mail and flyers. Learning about this was really exciting its much more complicated and interesting than I thought. Its was a really nice opportunity to see what goes on in an arts venue outside of the dance studio which isn’t something I’ve managed to do much of.
  • Meeting with Phill Hargreaves.
    Phill Is the Creative Producer, and he took some time out to tell me what that entails and what he specifically does for Déda, including the OffSite Outdoor Arts Development project.



  • Observed the Play Dance Move (for 18 months - 4yrs) class and the Accessible Creative Movement class (for disabled adults).
    I really enjoyed observing and actually taking part in these classes, it is not a side of dance that I often get to see in action and its amazing to see how powerful dancing is and how it can be made accessible to everyone.
  • Meeting with Mark Richards.
    Mark is the Technical Stage Manager at Déda, he took the time to explain what he has to do in preparation for companies coming into the perform at Déda’s in house theatre, from stage lighting to stage set up.
  • Meeting with Isobel Davis.
    Isobel went through the documents I would need to teach dance after university, wether as a freelancer or with an organisation such as Déda. By the time the meeting was done I had my own checklist! She explained what she did after graduation and how to got to Déda and what a day at work is like for her.

So, a crazy busy week! I’ve loved it all and would like to take the opportunity to thank all the staff at Déda who gave me some of their time and made me feel so welcome. Now its time to graduate and get to Derby, you’ll see me in the Commercial class!



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