Dance Encounters 2011 / Cyfarfyddiadau Dawns 2011

Main Debate 2011

Please find details below of the topics discussed during the Dance Encounters 2011 Conference in Galeri, Caernarfon

Main Debate

1 / What is the role of the dance programmer in the changing of the contemporary dance landscape and supporting the development of the art form?

• agitates, initiates and transforms the ecology of the dance landscape, or creates the circumstances to allow this change.
• expands audiences horizons, break preconceive ideas about what ideas about what dance is.
• develops audiences own critical abilities by encourage discussion.
• listens to the audience as well the artists: promotes respect and dialogue.
• put dance and dancers into unexpected contexts.
• create the dialogue between producers, venues, artists and audiences.
• showcases the latest development of contemporary dance.
• questions and challenges the art form itself to enable its development.
• gives a fair representation to all the aspects of contemporary dance.
• tries to create a context for both for emerging and mature artists.
• delivers in all areas (not just large cities).
• create unlikely combinations of artists, cultures and art-forms.
• is pro-active, reactive and keeps an open mind.
• uses festivals to create more focused contexts with a strong impact, while maintaining regular programme.

2 / How essential is it for you to travel to go and see work to enable you to play your role as a programmer? How many among you (panel members & delegates) have a budget to go and see work?

• essential to maintain expertise and challenge own practice.
• alternative way is to follow trusted programmers and venues
• essential but danger of becoming an avant-garde international shopping trip. Most important is to spend time with artists and create a relationship.
• essential as an artist, helps contextualising own work as well as increasing network of artists, producers and programmers.
• very important to travel nationally and internationally.
• increasingly using DVD and sharing with other colleagues to reduce carbon footprint.

3 / International residencies and co-productions: what impact do they have on the development of the art form, and on the dance sector in general?

• a dedicated space for international and national residencies is essential to develop work.
• essential to create relationships and for international artists to really understand the context in which one works.
• allows opportunity to converse with other studios and create exchanges with other countries.
• essential, as is to give artists regular access to venues with proper technical support, so they can finish works properly.
• artists working in a different context makes the creation process more interesting.
• essential in bringing artists together to confronting their own practice.
• different type of residencies in scale and size, all have a strong impact on a national dance sector
• Kaai Theatr (Brussels) has three high profile international companies in year long residencies; profile of the venue supports these companies and vice versa; this then reflects credibility on emerging artists that the venue programmes.
• Festival Materiais Diversos has played the same role for its artists in residency.
• example of choreographer Miguel Perreira developing new work and discussions via Dance 4, Nottingham, and Festival Materiais Diversos, Portugal.
• essential in allowing exploration, ideas exchange and networking.
• Wales offers a very distinctive context compared to big cities and create opportunities for residencies.
• short term and long term residencies are both relevant and important to have.

4 / A venue dedicated to dance: is it a necessity or a luxury?

• having venues dedicated to dance have been a very successful strategy to raise the profile of dance and develop audiences.
• equally multi-artform venues have also succeeded in doing so.


Changing the Landscape of Contemporary Dance
Led by Emma Gladstone (Sadler’s Wells) and facilitated by Andy Gibson (The People Speak).

The workshop examined taking risk in programming, exploring existing strategies and creating new ones relevant to you and your work.

Key Points:

• Taking risk in programming, exploring existing strategies and creating new ones relevant to you and your work.
• The pleasure of programming is of bringing people in to see the work you are passionate about
• People who see dance see on average one show a year.
Bringing people in
• language matters – "special event" rather than "installation", "ticket office" rather than "box office"
• Image is also very important.
• 75% of people book online, so video is incredibly important: making a three-minute film showing the artists, showing the work, helps to de-risk it.

Programming requires eternal optimism:

• if the work is articulate and communicates to us, there must be a way to sell it to audiences.
• We don’t do festivals in London because there are so many.
• Doing a dozen shows a year allows Emma to be very targeted, and plan a long time ahead.
• Interesting balance, the work is experimental, but the approach and planning is quite conservative and considered.
• Takes time to build an audience, build a brand, now consistently draw 75% of audiences to new work.
• Small experimental pieces have equal prominence in the programme alongside the large theatre productions.
• What is brave varies between projects and spaces – what works in one area can fail in another, e.g. in EC1.
• Sometimes the risks are in logistics rather than drawing audiences.
• Sampling is important to get mixed audiences so individuals can be introduced to new work, e.g. Sampled, 5 dance styles programmed in the main theatre – mix the risky with the safe
Programme unusual content around a frame that people will understand e.g. Easter and create things for all sorts of people
• Make the overall experience fun and enjoyable to take the pressure off the work.
• Festivals offer a chance to reach larger audiences.
• Never underestimate what audiences can be interested in.
• Be brave.

Linking it All Together
Led by Eva Martinez (Southbank Centre) and facilitated by Kate Fenhalls The People Speak.

The workshop examined the importance of developing links between professional presentations and development, audience development, community and educational activities.

Key Points:

Limiting Beliefs:

• divide between professional and community practice? preconception that community practice will be amateur.
• does divide actually exist?
• arts organisations currently doing more at breaking down the barriers than generally thought by natural evolution of practices but language and traditional behaviours assume barriers still in place.
• how do we better tell the story to funders of successes?
• are we successful as a sector at celebrating successes? easy to get side-tracked into interpretation of success according to funding criteria, e.g. audience sizes.
• how do we promote the visibility of community organisations who are doing the work but not in classic funding ‘measurable’ ways?

Impacting at a local level:


• creative thinking about who’s doors to knock on.
• need to build and sustain a solid team including members of the community.
• share resources and use community for accommodation etc.
• centre projects within community.
NB Funders open to innovation, but programmers etc. need to learn how to tell the relevant story to engage them.
Introducing dance into communities
(series of questions rather than conclusions)
• dialogue or communication with audience.
• why dance? (stat re: dance as fastest growing art form in the UK)
• importance of overcoming fear for both audiences and artists. For audiences – how works are marketed to audiences / they need to know it’s OK to come and experience even if dance a new medium for them, they don’t need to ‘understand’.
• audience development is a long term project, its needs commitment and continuity for growth.
• importance of developing strong teams, including members of the community.
• importance of networks.

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