Dance in Devon Board
Meet Our Board
Chair of the Board
It is a great privilege to have been asked to serve Dance in Devon as the new Chair of Trustees. I am not personally a dancer, as such, but I can so clearly appreciate the power of dance as an artform and the ways in which energy and rhythm can be appreciated and captured through the movement of the body. It is this interaction between the body and the environment that stirs and enlivens our sense of being. In this period of very great change, everybody needs to find ways of not only coping but also of adapting and embracing that change within dimensions of positivity. Dance, it seems to me, spans a range of emotions from deep contemplation to pure fun which means that there is something in it for everyone. Bringing the experience of dance to all, whatever their age or ability, and irrespective of whether they think they are dancers or not, is one of the great passions of Dance in Devon. I am excited to be part of this endeavour.
Although Chris started his working life as a research biologist, the major part of his professional career has been spent in education. As the Principal of a Community College for over 20 years he witnessed the power of the arts in engaging children, young people and adults in collaborative and transdisciplinary learning experiences within the College and beyond. Chris has a first degree in zoology, an MA in educational leadership and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Exeter. His research and writing interests are in the aesthetics and ecology of education from which he has developed the theoretical concepts of aesthoecology. He is a member of the Creativity and Emergent Educational Futures Network at the University of Exeter, he has spent time as a research associate at the National College for School Leadership and has lectured widely on educational leadership and community education, both in the UK and abroad. He is a member of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and sits in the Senate of the Open University. In 2001 was awarded an OBE for services to education.
I’ve been a member of Dance in Devon almost from the minute I moved to the region. Before I came onto the Board, the organisation helped me to get networked with all the great dance activity that happens in Devon and to find my place in the dance family here. In the current climate, I’m a passionate advocate for the power of dance to counteract 21st century problems. I also believe that dance can ignite anyone’s sense of themselves and their sense of belonging in an embodied and aesthetic way – this is what makes dance unique and everyone in Devon (and beyond) deserves the chance to experience it!
Kerry is a Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Education at University of Exeter, where she leads the MA Education Creative Arts specialism and provides dance expertise to the course. Kerry also co-leads the Centre for Creativity, Sustainability and Educational Futures and is a PhD and EdD supervisor. Her research includes creativity in arts, science and interdisciplinary education and educational futures, alongside participatory research methodologies. Kerry continues to work as a dance-artist within Exeter-based dance lab collective, and also carries out freelance arts education research and evaluation with clients such as Attik Dance, Siobhan Davies Dance, the BBC, Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Swindon Dance.
Dance inspires me, engages me, makes me feel well, makes me happy, makes me see things differently, so living and working in Devon, the more dance that’s here in the region the better! That’s why I’m honoured to sit on the Board of Dance in Devon and work together to make inspire, celebrate and develop high quality dance that benefits the people of Devon and beyond.
Lara is the Director of Coombe Farm Studios, a producer-led rural centre in Devon dedicated to growing creativity. Prior to running Coombe Lara spent time living in Vietnam where she worked for a social enterprise, supporting schools and village potters. On returning to the UK she spent 7 years in London working at Contemporary Applied Arts, the Rebecca Hossack Gallery, the British Council and Visiting Arts. Having grown up in Devon she wanted to return to a place and community that she loved and her arts career continued as she worked for 12 years as a programmer and producer of live performance for the Dartington Hall Trust. Lara took over the day-to-day running of Coombe Farm Studios in 2012 alongside her Dartington work and left Dartington in 2015. She now lives and works at Coombe full time with her husband and two children. Lara is a Trustee of the Devon Guild of Craftsman and a Board Member of Dance in Devon.
Denise Rowe is passionate about the power of dance and movement to unlock the potency of who we really are.
Denise is a dance and movement artist and facilitator with over 15 years experience in creating and holding safe spaces for powerful transformation. Her work emerges from a creative movement practice and an intimacy with body, landscape, spirit and rhythm.
Denise is associate lecturer in dance at University of Plymouth and director of dance at the Mhararano Mbira Academy. Co-founder of Tolo Ko Tolo Dance Company, Denise also works as a solo artist on various cross-genre performance collaborations including the She Who Walks project and with the band Ombiviolum. She has directed, produced and choreographed a diverse array of performances, films and events.
Denise has trained in African dance in Zimbabwe, Senegal, Ghana, Gambia, Cameroon and the UK. She has completed 3 years training in non-stylised & environmental movement with Helen Poynor, and has 2 years contemporary dance training. Denise is also a student of Shiatsu, Aikido and women’s shamanism with The Sacred Trust.
In 2012 Denise was awarded an ADAD Trailblazers Champions bursary in recognition of her work in the field of Dance of the African Diaspora.
I always enjoyed working with Dance in Devon during my time at the Arts Council, where I worked closely with colleagues to raise the profile of dance in the region. I was delighted to then join the board, to play a part in supporting the organisation to create opportunities for dance to enrich the lives of all sorts of people – dance professionals, children, students, older people, and anyone who wants to improve their creativity and wellbeing through movement.
Gillian Taylor is an experienced communications professional working in the cultural sector. She has a broad range of communications skills including media relations, marketing, digital content creation, audience development and advocacy.
Since setting up Gillian Taylor PR in July 2013, Gillian has worked with a range of clients including Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery, CEDA (Community Equality Disability Action), Daisi, Somerset Art Works Festival and the All Party Parliamentaty Group on Arts, Health & Wellbeing.
As the communications lead for Arts Council England in the South West for 15 years, she worked with artists and arts organisations across the region and further afield. As part of the Maritime Mix team, she worked on the communications and marketing of Cultural Olympiad events in Weymouth. Amongst other achievements, she gained regional, national and international coverage of Sue Austin’s underwater wheelchair project ‘Creating the Spectacle!’.
In addition to her communications expertise, Gillian plays the violin and is a paper artist. She has an interest in the environment and previously worked at the University of Southern Denmark researching the connections between people and nature.
Gillian is also a member of the boards of Exeter Northcott Theatre and Arts & Health South West.
It is a real privilege to serve as a Board Member for Dance-In-Devon and to witness the diverse, life-enhancing and boundary-breaking projects undertaken by this forward thinking, dynamic and inspiring organisation. As Director of The Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington – which is a Base for Dance-In-Devon – I try to bring the perspective of a rural arts venue to the Board meetings and to encourage Dance In Devon to keep building relationships with artists, audiences and participants by enhancing dance provision far and wide across the county. I really appreciate Dance In Devon’s success in proving that ‘culture makes communities’ across Devon and in doing so they seem to bring this huge county closer together.
After graduating with a degree in drama/inter-arts from Bretton Hall College in 1984, Richard worked in theatre-in-education, youth theatre and community theatre companies in Manchester, Birmingham and Cheshire for fifteen years before becoming Arts Development Officer at The Plough Arts Centre in 1999 prior to becoming Artistic Director in 2002. He has led a team of 70+ staff, volunteers and democratically elected Council of Management members who have together strengthened the artistic vision, the economic sustainability, and the community impact of the venue to the point where it is has just won a national award and is now regarded nationally as a thriving self-sustaining arts venue.
Richard is married with two grown-up sons and lives in Bude Cornwall, where in his spare time he runs the Bude Youth Theatre and is chair of Connect Bude, an organisation set up in Oct 2016 to campaign to reconnect Bude and Holsworthy to the National Railway Network.