DANCE ACROSS THE NORTH bringing exciting, culturally diverse dance, live music and workshops to rural audiences across the North of England
BLAIZE opening new doors to the arts
DANCE ACROSS THE NORTH: A MODERN MEHFIL Mehfil derives from an Arabic word meaning ‘a festive gathering to entertain.’ Traditionally, musicians, poets and dancers would travel long distances across rural India to present Mehfils – evenings of courtly entertainment – in the homes of Indian nobility. Dance Across the North draws on this ancient tradition of travelling artists to bring a contemporary mix of culturally diverse dance, live music and workshops to Northern rural audiences. With everything from classical dance to dancing bicycles with human beatbox, from intimate evenings with Kathak dance gurus to flashmobs, Dance Across the North is gearing up to be an explosive cultural experience for audiences in rural settings right across the North.
Northumberland County Durham Cumbria
East Riding of Yorkshire Hull
setting the programme in motion
Dance Across the North will see over 10,000 people
For these rural touring schemes the project is an
across the North of England experience world-class
dance and music, within their local communities. Led by Blaize, through a series of performances, workshops, house concerts and flashmobs, Balbir Singh Dance Company
• Offer their local communities high quality dance performances • Learn more about programming culturally diverse dance
(BSDC) will inspire and entertain people of all ages in some of the country’s most remote and difficult to reach places; bringing vibrant live performances to everyday settings, for people who may otherwise never have the chance to engage with this kind of experience. New audiences will be introduced to contemporary dance and Kathak through relevant and meaningful artistic exchanges. A diverse programme will be delivered in locations ranging from traditional rural venues such as village halls, to more intimate spaces including houses and libraries, and even largescale pop-up performances in shopping centres and parks. Dance Across the North is led by Community Arts Company Blaize, who aim to:
• Build new audiences and profile for their schemes and venues through individually designed campaigns including taster performances, profile-raising mass participation events and regional media coverage • Offer participative dance activity to their communities, with its associated health, social and creative benefits We are extremely grateful to Arts Council England for supporting this ambitious project with investment from the Strategic Touring Programme. This project helps ACE to deliver their mission of ‘great art and culture for everyone’, in addition to specific STP aims of: • Improving access to high quality work • Broadening the range of venues presenting work
• Bring exciting, diverse dance to those who may not otherwise have the opportunity to engage with it • Continue to build a strong network of rural touring schemes and venues across the North of England • Offer inspiration and professional development to young people Project partners working alongside Blaize and BSDC include
• Widening audience access • Strengthening relationships between artists and promoters • Broadening the range of high quality touring work • Presenting work which reflects the diversity of contemporary England Dance Across the North builds upon previous artistic projects
Get Moving, ArtERY Live in East Riding, LiveLincs in North
delivered by Blaize and BSDC, existing relationships between
Lincolnshire, Spot On Rural Touring in Lancashire, Cheshire
rural touring schemes, BSDC’s previous experience of
Rural Touring Arts, Highlights Rural Touring in Cumbria,
managing a STP project, Synchronised, and significant
Durham and Northumberland, Arts Out West in West
experience of rural touring from all partners. Dance Across the
Cumbria, Roots and Wings Hull as well as the Performing Arts
North formalises and extends the possibilities of these
Network and Development Agency (PANDA).
partnerships to something larger, more impactful and exciting than previously experienced.
issues the project aims to address
‘Dance Mapping: A window on Dance (2004-2008)’ a report commissioned by ACE and supported by the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF), highlighted that: There are issues regarding the quality of venues for dance, particularly floors and the height of spaces. • BSDC’s experience of adapting performances to unique spaces will overcome this issue. A number of local small-scale touring initiatives exist, but there is a need for a wider, more joined-up approach to developing small-scale touring networks. • This project clearly addresses this, across a vast area in the North, as well as by linking to NRTF. Identifying suitable companies is a challenge for venues. • BSDC has a strong track record of delivery in relevant spaces, so Blaize are confident the work will fit and adapt to partners’ local communities. There is a lack of confidence in programming dance, particularly among voluntary promoters, alongside budgetary Decreasing Infinity, a duet dramatically accompanied by live Tabla and Human Beatbox
issues and lack of marketing capacity or resources for dedicated audience development. • This project will develop, where needed, venue managers’ knowledge and confidence in programming and engaging their audiences in dance, alongside providing bespoke audience development activity.
The Mehfil House Concerts build on an ancient tradition while introducing contemporary rural audiences to diverse musical and dance styles.
“By bringing together the touring schemes and the variety of work, from pure classical dance and music to more westernised choreography, and presenting it in different ways that adapt and adjust to rural areas; we are confident that this project will not only connect venues across the North, in sharing expertise and collaborative audience engagement approaches, but provide new, innovative approaches to bringing new work into rural areas.
vibrant world of dance throughout the North. We want to reach people from all walks of life and show them just how much fun dancing can be. One day you might find dancers in a public space like the village green or your local supermarket, the next you might be invited to a house concert. It’s all very exciting.” Ellen Thorpe, Director and General Manager of Blaize
“We are specifically working in areas artistically undernourished, where artistic development is hampered. By providing world-class artistic experiences, we hope to spur on young artists to enter the profession and deliver equally transformative future projects. “This ambitious programme will benefit everyone, both young and old. It enables us to reach remote communities, support and encourage emerging artists, create new opportunities and celebrate the
learning from the experience – and from each other
The evaluative process will help all partners to stay
The resulting evaluative report will be shared with artists,
connected throughout the project, continually learning
touring schemes and supporting organisations across the UK
from each other’s processes and experiences.
and internationally, via established networks, conferences and
Sarah Spanton, independent evaluator, will work with all partners throughout the project to capture audience experience and demographic data, lessons learned by all partners, and to measure the impact of audience development, marketing and artistic activity. The evaluative process will be embedded in the project to
digital distribution. As a model for touring the evaluation report will include: • A resource for artists featuring performance venues that may otherwise be unknown to them, and advice on rural touring • Advice for rural touring schemes on developing
help guide progress throughout, as well as producing a
partnerships, and building audiences for culturally
useful resource for future reference. Data and feedback from
audiences and participants will be collated via questionnaires, social media, film and photography.
• Evidence of enhanced relationships between touring schemes and the benefits of collaboration during the project • Guidance on collating audience data, both quantitative and qualitative • Filmed audience/participant reactions after performances and workshops • Filmed interviews with programmers and artists explaining how the project has impacted on their artistic development and approach to programming • Diagrammatical evidence of the geographic area covered by the project, and the highlights of BSDC’s experience, to inspire artists to travel beyond urban cultural hotspots
An Evening with Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar, introduces audiences to North Indian Kathak in a highly entertaining and accessible way
creative case for diversity
reflecting the vibrant diversity of contemporary Britain
working together to help build local relationships
Dance Across the North offers a unique opportunity
to immerse our communities in diverse artistic genres and styles reflective of contemporary British culture and communities.
To build on existing relationships with current and potential audiences, the project will provide marketing and audience development support and activities designed specifically for
The partners involved in this project all believe passionately in
each region. Blaize, BSDC and external consultants will work
the power of art in inspiring and developing happier, healthier,
with scheme and venue managers to implement bespoke
more cohesive communities.
activity that contributes to long-term audience development.
Intimate house concerts, intensive workshops and memorable
performances will engage those across the North of England in culturally diverse practice. Delivered by a culturally diverse team of artists, the series of artistic and social events will enlighten audiences, broaden perspectives and enliven imaginations.
Each scheme and venue will have direct contact with BSDC to discuss their particular requirements, facilities and audiences. Producers Project leads at Blaize and BSDC will be in regular contact with scheme and venue managers to support and ensure the
“This project is an opportunity to try something new… to introduce your audiences to a style they may not be familiar with; to ask people to participate; to programme work you may not otherwise have considered.
smooth delivery of the project.
“We will support each other in breaking new ground, building new audiences and enabling great art to thrive in rural areas.”
they’ve been able to fund both.
National links Blaize and BSDC will also link into NRTF, particularly with regards to their newly announced national dance rural touring project, to ensure we complement each other’s projects and learn from each other. Both projects contribute significantly to STF aims and ACE are reported to be ‘delighted’ that
Balbir Singh, Artistic Director, BSDC
flexibility and adaptability are the key
high quality collateral and a targeted campaign
BSDC were invited to be the artistic lead for this project
Marketing specialists at Blaize and BSDC will work
due to the company’s array of high quality, accessible
actively with rural touring schemes and venues to
and diverse work, relevant to a range of audiences and
maximise audiences and participants for all activities.
communities, as well as their proven adaptability for touring to a broad range of venues. The project will enable BSDC to work flexibly within different types and sizes of venues. BSDC’s Associate Producer Ceri
A comprehensive communications campaign is in place for the project, which includes: • High quality flyers and posters to promote performances
Brierley said: ‘We appreciate that no two venues are the
• A dedicated social media campaign
same, and are primed to adapt performances to suit different
• A high print-run of generic project postcards being
spaces and facilities’. The company has previously performed
distributed at all events across the region, signposting
in such varied venues as swimming pools, town halls, outdoor
potential audience members to event listings on the
festivals, libraries and museums.
The company’s work has adapted well to audiences ‘in the
• An e-invite for house concert hosts to invite guests
round’, on three sides or in the traditional front viewing setup.
• A dedicated PR campaign targeting relevant national,
BSDC has also developed work specifically for informal or passing audiences typically in festival environments or public spaces. The company enjoys working intensively within the communities it visits, staying locally, helping to develop new audiences, involving communities in performances and delivering workshops with a range of groups and individuals.
RIGHT: In Full Contact, storytelling, movement and live music combine to celebrate the history of Rugby League.
regional, local and trade press • Full project details and event listings on the Blaize website
Kathak and rural touring â€“ a historical connection
Native to Northern India, Kathak is one of the eight classical Indian dance forms. An ancient storytelling device, Kathak originated within the Hindu temples as a means of portraying the epic tales contained within the Mahabharata and Ramayana, Hindu scriptures. Poetry combined with rhythmic movement to aid in the worshipful storytelling. However, the stories didnâ€™t stay within the temple walls for long. Nomadic Kathaks, or wandering storytellers, soon began carrying the dances throughout the country in many rural areas. They added emotional facial expressions to their performances, further developing the dance to include elements of mime. In this way, Kathak transitioned from its secluded, devotional origins to a more accessible, multi-disciplined tradition of entertainment.
Balbir Singh Dance Company
Blaize is a community arts organisation who just love to
Balbir Singh Dance Company (BSDC) performances
see people getting all fired up and creative. Blaize bring
have been seen by over 40,000 people in the last three
the very best in quality theatre, music, dance, comedy
years. BSDC was one of just three companies mentored
and cinema directly to rural communities. Blaize work
by the Royal Opera House as part of the Arts Council
nationally, but mainly cover the North of England and are
England Links Scheme and is also an Associate
particularly active in isolated, rural communities where
Company of the University of Leeds.
access to the arts may be limited.
Significant recent achievements include Synchronised, a
Blaize is the project lead for Dance Across the North,
spectacular swimming pool based performance
having devised the project, brought together the
commissioned for Yorkshire’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
partners and secured the major STF funding from ACE.
Subsequently sustained through an intensive, Strategic
Ellen Thorpe, Director and General Manager, Blaize Ellen ensures that everything comes together smoothly at Blaize, organising, seeking funding and commissioning the work. Ellen has many years’ experience with responsibility for
Touring Fund supported, community engagement project, Synchronised was also re-imagined for sell-out performances at Southbank Centre’s Alchemy Festival in 2015. “Dazzling and gorgeously imaginative… A tidal wave of creative genius…a wonderous spectacle.” Metro
programming all Blaize work including the ArtERY rural touring
BSDC provides meaningful, relevant and extraordinary
scheme in East Yorkshire which she founded at the invitation
experiences for a wide range of audiences and participants.
of Arts Council England, Yorkshire and the East Riding of
The company’s diverse repertoire includes:
Yorkshire Council. She also programmes LiveLincs in North
• work for adults, families and children;
Lincolnshire and is a trustee of Ilkley Literature Festival.
Gail Ferrin, dance consultant, flashmob lead Previously Youth & Community Dance Director at Yorkshire Dance, and with a wealth of previous experience leading
• work suited to both traditional theatre spaces and outdoor festivals; • intimate pieces that can be toured to smaller, rural venues and
youth dance groups and rural touring projects in the North of
• spectacular shows for large scale sporting arenas.
England and Canada, Gail will work with the flashmob
The company’s dancers are highly-skilled and adaptable, and
leaders in each area to ensure they produce something
have performed in swimming pools, libraries and museums,
unique and inspirational – engaging their local participants
as well as rural venues in Middlesbrough, Thirsk and across
and creating extensive word of mouth in their communities
North Yorkshire through a long-standing relationship with
about the arrival of the project.
Blaize. Previous experience of producing a large-scale STP
Andrea Hardaker, social media
project took Synchronised into areas of low arts engagement,
Andrea works regularly for Blaize and will be leading the dedicated social media campaign for the project. Ensuring that communities across the North of England know about
creating strong partnerships and developing new audiences through on-the-ground engagement work including splashmobs and community cast integration.
the project, when it will be taking place near them, and how
The company works with many genres of contemporary art,
they can get involved. Raising profile and developing
usually incorporating live music, with a strong grounding in
audiences/participants for all strands of the activity.
the principles of the classical Indian dance form Kathak. This
“Balbir Singh Dance Company were a pleasure to work alongside. We wholeheartedly recommend them. The company produce work of the highest quality which is innovative and inclusive. I was delighted with the working relationship we were able to forge as they understood the festival’s ethos and supported us in our bid to combine audiences across art forms.” Stephanie Upsall, Nexus Festival grounding, along with Balbir Singh’s natural curiosity and
Rhiannon Davison, creative learning
choice of collaborators, ensures the company produces
Rhiannon promotes, plans and delivers all of BSDC’s
culturally diverse work whatever the subject matter. BSDC
education work. The company works with people of all ages
contributes significantly to ACE’s Creative Case for Diversity.
and levels of experiences, offering taster workshops, bespoke
residencies and creative projects.
Born in India, but with a westernised upbringing in England,
Sarah Spanton, evaluation
Balbir made inroads into the two cultures by first training in
An artist and consultant, Sarah brings a creative and
Western contemporary dance and then immersing himself
collaborative approach to her diverse portfolio of work. She
into classical Indian dance for many years under the leading
will be involved throughout the project, allowing continual
international Kathak exponent, Padmashri Guru Pratap Pawar.
reflection as well as developing evaluative materials that will
This dual vision allows Balbir to have an artistic sensibility that
provide a legacy for the project.
is rich and complex, seen through his choreographic versatility and output that defies categorisation. Fundamental to his artistic approach is his ability to connect to audiences and cross cultural boundaries, creating work with a warmth and
Dance Across the North: key personnel at a glance
humanity, through narrative and emotion, be it abstract or literal. “intellectual daring of a master choreographer” Dancing Times
Ceri Brierley, associate producer Ceri will use her wealth of marketing and project management experience to support the promotion of all events and the project as a whole. Her career has included senior marketing roles at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Random Dance.
Anna Franks, audience engagement A marketing and communications specialist who worked closely with BSDC to develop their Audience Development Plan, Anna was previously a Director at &Co The cultural marketing house. She will help us to discover more about potential audiences and how to engage them.
Project lead Ellen Thorpe, Director and General Manager, Blaize Artistic lead Balbir Singh, Artistic Director, BSDC Dance consultant, flashmob lead Gail Ferrin Project marketing and fundraising Andrea Hardaker, Marketing Associate, Blaize Performance marketing and production Ceri Brierley, Associate Producer, BSDC Education programme Rhiannon Davison, Creative Learning Officer, BSDC Flashmob programme Gail Ferrin, Dance Consultant Identifying and attracting new audiences Anna Franks, Audience Development consultant
Full details of all programming partners can be found on page 18
Evaluation lead Sarah Spanton, Independent Evaluator
M CLASSICAL MEHFIL Culturally diverse performances incorporating Indian music, dance and culture. New and exciting experiences for audiences with different levels of knowledge
CHOOSE YOUR MEHFIL MIX Dance Across the North will be touring a fabulous diversity of work to suit all kinds of audiences, and all kinds of venues. To help you decide on the sorts of performances that will attract audiences in your own area, we’ve organised the work into six distinct strands. Most strands include several different pieces, related by style or theme. Feel free to select work from one strand – or mix and match from several, to create your own Mehfil Mix. Many of the pieces can also be adapted to respond to your particular circumstances, so talk to us about your needs and we’ll suggest some options. 14
MEHFIL MODERN Mixed bills of short dance works for theatre performance, synthesising traditional North Indian Kathak and western contemporary styles
MEHFIL MIRAGE As well as the work programmed for the project Balbir Singh Dance Company has a number of other interesting pieces. Talk to us about what else could be adapted to suit your local needs
MEHFIL FEST Family-friendly work ideal for outdoor festivals or unusual spaces
TEAM MEHFIL Based on BSDCâ€™s Two Wheel Trilogy, a series of works inspired by cycling. Ideal for indoor or outdoor venues and festivals
MEHFIL ON THE MOVE
Sports/dance/ storytelling collaborations, working with the tough, technical and strategic game of rugby. Appeals equally to sports or general audiences
MEHFIL HOUSE CONCERTS A social occasion offering close-up performances of Indian dance, music and storytelling, interspersed by explanations and the opportunity to discuss the work
suggested schedule of activity 23 performances, 5 house concerts, 18 workshops and 8 flashmobs over 8 months during 2016.
September 2015 Confirming partners and appointing consultants
October 2015 Begin marketing planning; Creative Engagement Day involving all partners; Flashmob planning and apprentice recruitment
November 2015 Confirm all bookings for house concerts, workshops, performances, and flashmobs; Balbir to visit schemes / venues where useful
December 2015 Steering group meeting; Establish opportunities for apprenticesâ€™ CPD
January 2016 Launch marketing campaign; BSDC rehearsals
February 2016 Delivery begins: flashmobs, performances, workshops and house concerts
March 2016 Evaluation begins
April 2016 Mid-point steering group meeting
Aprilâ€“October 2016 Delivery continues: flashmobs, performances, workshops and house concerts
September 2016 Marketing campaign ends
October 2016 Delivery ends
November 2016 Arrange evaluation day and collect data for evaluator
December 2016 Evaluation day and steering group meeting; sharing and dissemination of the evaluation report
Cheshire Cheshire Rural Touring Arts
Lancashire Spot On Rural Touring
Contact Claire Smith and Jen Henry:
Contact Sue Robinson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland Highlights Rural Touring Scheme
North Lincolnshire LiveLincs
Contact Ellen Thorpe: email@example.com
Contact Barbara Slack: firstname.lastname@example.org or Rosie Cross: email@example.com
West Cumbria Arts Out West www.artsoutwest.com
East Riding of Yorkshire ArtERY Live
Contact Chris Bridgeman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yorkshire Get Moving
Contact Ellen Thorpe: email@example.com
Contact Gail Ferrin: Gailferrin@aol.com
Hull Routes and Wings programme www.artforhull.co.uk Contact Isabell Tracy: Isabelle@rootsandwingshull.co.uk
Two Wheel Trilogy is a suite of works that brings dancers together with the likes of world champion BMXer Keelan Phillips and long-time BSDC collaborator saxophonist Jesse Bannister, to create a thrilling mix of movement and sound.
With over fifty events right across the North of England, including 23 performances, 5 house concerts, 18 workshops and 8 flashmobs, Dance Across the North will be an important part of the Northern rural arts calendar throughout 2016. Make sure youâ€™re part of it â€“ go to: www.blaize.uk.net to get the latest project news.
Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require any further details, or to discuss further the bespoke performance and education options. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Telephone: 07921 645839
BLAIZE opening new doors to the arts
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Published on Dec 4, 2015