Developing My Creative Practice – Research Grant

I’m taking some time out the next few months for my Develop Your Creative Practice project. Huge thanks to Arts Council England for this grant which is funding my research and development time.

I received the funding in spring but decided to delay my start due to a busy summer of projects. I was also finishing up loose ends from the mammoth project that was making This is how gorgeous it feels and as my DYCP is about developing my skills as Artistic Director of my over 50s dance company Third Bite Dance, I needed to allow a pause after this big project. 

So I began in September.

There’s something quite satisfying about beginning new learning in September. A fresh term, a new academic year. I didn’t love school but with the freedom of freelancing it feels good to have something grounding me over the next couple of months which is of my doing, and so far it’s been a delight.

My Develop Your Creative Practice project is about me stepping up in my role as Artistic Director of 50+ Contemporary Dance Sheffield and it’s performance company Third Bite Dance and expanding my choreographic skills creating work with ensemble older bodies as well as directing and producing skills. I’m learning from other artists, companies and organisations doing amazing work nationally that is by, for and with older adults and reflecting on how this learning can be applied to a local context to develop networks and opportunities for older adults in Sheffield. 

It’s also about merging the community and professional aspects of my practice. 50+ Contemporary Dance Sheffield originally started as a participatory dance class. We still have this strand going but have now shifted into making artistic work as a performance company developing a creative identity and artistic voice:

“We’re here, we’re fierce and we proudly take our place in the arts industry!”

One of my favourite quotes from our 50+CDS committee meetings.

So far I’ve been connecting with other artists online and researching from home but the funding will also involve me taking some exciting trips. This month I’m off to Leeds, Oxford and hopefully Cardiff (depending on Wales Covid restrictions and groups meeting in person) and I can’t wait.

Joining in zoom sessions with the brilliant Striking Attitudes Dance company and shadowing their work has given me ideas for new ways of working. It’s been so joyful to see what they create with their gorgeous group down in Cardiff. I’ve been testing new ideas with my Third Bite Dance Company which has been super fun and has led us to explore ideas for a new piece. After 2 sessions on this idea it seems we’re onto something!

I’m so grateful to be financially supported by Arts Council England for this development opportunity. Most of my previous learning and developing my practice in the last 9 years has been unpaid or I have paid for. Having the time to research, receive mentoring, join company sessions and shadow amazing dance artists online and in person and not worry about the financial side is wonderful.

Thank you again to Arts Council England for this research grant. I am excited to continue on my DYCP journey and see where it leads…