COVID-19 Emergency Response Project
This COVID-19 Emergency Response project has enabled Dance in Devon to provide advice, support, grants and bursaries to dancers and dance artists in Devon and beyond as part of the Peninsula Dance Partnership.
The project has several strands including:
- Supporting freelancers Daisy Harrison (The Prism Project) and Kay Crook (Chhaya Collective Chhaya Youth) to deliver digital work for young & professional/adult dancers enabling access to classes that inspire/develop and support their training into the future: improving/sustaining pathways into the profession & contributing to a creative & cultural country
- Supporting dance artists Clare Parker and Anna Leatherdale to explore digital work for older dancers that forms foundations for extended practice (& new freelance income) post COVID-19: nurturing creative opportunities for participation for some of our most vulnerable and isolated members of communities.
- Supporting freelance dance artists who live and/or work in Cornwall, Plymouth & Devon. As part of Peninsula Dance Partnership we create a larger scale of activity and a higher profile for dance, strengthening its place in the Peninsula’s cultural programme. Peninsula Dance Partnership offered Dance Card Bursaries, Business Coaching sessions and Choreographic Bursaries.
Our COVID-19 Emergency Response project is supported by emergency funding from Arts Council England.
Dance Artist Clare Parker reports on how the grant she received from Dance in Devon's Emergency Response Project enabled her to stay connected with her older people's dance group - Step in Time:
Step in Time are a dance group for older people who are at risk of a fall, that seek to maintain and build older people’s confidence, activity, social connection and opportunities for creative and imaginative expression. We normally meet in Paignton once a week for specialist strength & balance dance classes, followed by a social chat and refreshments. We regularly host social events and take part in participatory and performance projects in Torbay and beyond.
At the time of going into lockdown we had 16 members aged between 65 and 95. The group is led by dance artist and postural stability instructor Clare Parker, with guest teacher Tamsin Bone, and 3 volunteer peer support dancers.
The grant was used to support the group to continue to be engaged in a variety of ways, reflecting the diverse needs and constraints faced by different members of the group during lockdown. Over the period of the pandemic (initial lockdown to ongoing restrictions for shielding groups) the grant
contributed to the following activities:
- 20 x weekly zoom socials (attended by between 4 and 10 older people with
internet and computer access each week)
- 7 x garden outdoor small group dance sessions with between 1 and 5 older
- 2 x public parks outdoor group dance sessions with around 15 older people,
- 3 x creative collaborative video projects (mix of online and live filming):
-I want to break free digital flashmob – a collaboration with Doorstep Arts
-Poems from the Palace – a collaboration with Paignton Palace Theatre
-Present with me – a collaboration with Richard Chappell Dance
- 6 x co-produced group newsletters with content contributed by group
- 15 x wellbeing packs were distributed to group members containing:
-NHS stay safe at home falls advice guide
-Greetings cards, envelopes and stamps
Dance Artist Daisy Harrison reports on how the grant she received from Dance in Devon's Emergency Response Project enabled her to stay connected with dancers through leading online Contemporary Dance classes and curating a dance film with south west dancers:
I used the Emergency Response Grant from Dance in Devon to support two activities; online training classes through zoom, and a creative project ‘The South West Sky Series.’
This grant supported leading a weekly Pro Level Class and a weekly Open Level Contemporary class online via zoom throughout March-September. This created a really positive regular network of people that could train together, and socialise during the period of most intense isolation. The support from Dance in Devon meant that I was able to offer these sessions on a ‘pay what you can’ basis throughout, which meant that many professional dancers, creatives and working professionals were always able to access the training, regardless of their financial situation. Many people were in need of the reduced cost/free access to classes. Over the 6-month period 39 people participated in these classes from all over the UK.
It was great how accessible it was and Daisy’s teaching was still to a high standard even though the circumstances had changed. We were also still able to ask as many questions as needed and the relaxed, fun atmosphere that we always had face-to-face continued!
I have loved it. They’ve been perfect for me. I’d love them to carry on even when live classes are possible
I enjoy having no pressure or personal comparison from dancing in my own space. Having to challenge myself in ways I didn’t before.
Really appreciated being able to keep dancing, and how well the classes were designed for small spaces.
The Emergency Response Grant also supported the creation of two short dance films: ‘The South West Sky Series.’ These ‘episodes’ invited residents of the South West to record themselves dancing, using shared movement themes and only the sky as their background. The films celebrate the region’s capacity for creative response, unity and expression even through adversity. Even in isolation, we move together under the same sky.
I commissioned South West based musicians Alexa Mason and George Hadwen (Mango Vice) to create original sound scores for the films, which was a brilliant opportunity to work with two talented musicians on composing music for dance. It furthered my professional development in that I had two great opportunities to create screen dance, and practice editing. It also was a brilliant relief to have a creative project to work on while isolating. The ‘release date’ of each film almost felt like a performance, as conversations had with participants after screenings reminded me of the backstage conversations after a show. In the two episodes, we had 37 individual video submissions from dancers and movers from the South West. We had interest from dancers outside of the region (as far as Brazil!) so there is the possibility of extending this project to include connections beyond our local area. This was a brilliant way of connecting with South West artists for me personally, but also for those who took part.
Dancing has been a big part of my life. One day I had to stop. Then I convinced myself I was too old. I’m really grateful that you let me into your group. It’s brought a lot of happiness back into my life.
A wonderful piece and a great response to a much needed sentiment right now: hope!
If you’re looking for a dance based creative response to lockdown, then @prismprojectexeter South West Sky Series has got to be one of the best so far… The viewpoint creates a fascinating perspective, after all how many times have you watched a dancer from below?
The grant made a huge difference to me personally in that it kept me connected with an existing group of dancers, who I danced with in Dance in Devon’s Exeter Contemporary Classes. It also allowed me to reconnect with dancers across the UK (and sometimes elsewhere in the world) some of whom I hadn’t been able to dance for years! These connections were an incredible support for my mental health and wellbeing during the peak months of UK lockdown.
The support from Dance in Devon also meant I was able to continue my personal training and share that with others, continue building relationships within the dance world and work on a creative project. This support played a huge role in enabling me to keep working in dance through the trickiest time, and I’m so grateful!
We were delighted to support Kay Crook and Chhaya Youth Dance Company through our Emergency Response Project and are excited to celebrate the launch of their new #dancefilm! Check it out below!
Choreography by Kay Crook & members of Chhaya Youth Dance Company
Music Composition and Recording by Chhaya Youth Dance Company member Jonny Hibbs
To get in touch regarding the COVID-19 Emergency Response project please email firstname.lastname@example.org