Phoenix Dance Theatre reverses layoff decision

26 May 2022

Phoenix Dance Theatre will no longer lay off four employees in June as previously planned.

Under plans revealed by performers' union Equity, the Leeds theatre intended to pay those laid off £300 of guaranteed pay every three months, during which time they would be expected to be available if required.

The decision to reverse the layoffs follows a demonstration outside the Northern Ballet building, home to the theatre, led by Equity on Monday (23 May). An online petition against the move received more than 2,000 signatures.

The theatre will move ahead with separate plans to end the contracts of five dancers, one freelancer and four on fixed-term contracts, but confirmed all other employees will be retained.

A statement from the theatre said layoffs were proposed but decided against while a strategic review is underway, adding it remains committed to safeguarding jobs wherever possible.

It called Equity’s decision to make the process public “disappointing” and said the theatre “strongly refutes their account of our actions”. 

Dominic Bascombe, Equity’s Regional Office for North East, Yorkshire and Humberside, said he was delighted for the two dancers and two creatives affected.

“They have been overwhelmed by the support of the public, trade unionists and fair-minded people everywhere.”

Leeds theatre lay-offs ‘appalling’, says Equity

19 May 2022

Phoenix Dance Theatre Leeds’ decision to lay off its creative team has been branded “appalling” by Equity’s North East official Dominic Bascombe.

The theatre is planning a ‘creative pause’ from June until January instead of proceeding with previously planned work, meaning dancers will no longer go into rehearsals for at least three planned performances.

Six dancers on fixed-term contracts have been told their contracts will end tomorrow (20 May) and two dancers on permanent staff contracts will be laid off from July 1.

Phoenix intends to pay the pair £300 guaranteed pay every three months while they are laid off, during which time they are expected to be available to the theatre if required.

Equity is accompanying dancers to consultation meetings, arguing there is no genuine shortage of work while the company remains in benefit of funding from Arts Council England (ACE) and other funders. Since 2018, the theatre has received in excess of £2m as an ACE National Portfolio Organisation.

“Phoenix management needs to explain what has happened to the public money they received that would normally go towards paying the dancers and creative team,” Bascombe said.

“And they need to explain why they are not treating the dancers and creative team - who have helped build the reputation that Phoenix has enjoyed over the past 40 years - with the respect they deserve.”

Midlands dance organisations to merge

22 Mar 2022

Dance4 and DanceXchange are merging into a new, "more ambitious" organisation.

FABRIC will combine the organisations’ skills and expertise and free up resources to "actively invest" in artists and programmes.  

The two have worked together since 2017 and believe the move will help develop talent in the Midlands, encourage creative leadership and promote dance in public life.

"This new approach will breathe new life into dance," Dance4 CEO and upcoming FABRIC CEO Paul Russ said.

The merger will take effect from mid-April, with DanceXchange Interim CEO Debbie Jardine stepping down. FABRIC will keep both partners' buildings in Nottingham and Birmingham open, "building on the programmes and audiences of Dance4 and DanceXchange in these locations and beyond".

Russ commented: "We’re taking a bold step to a new future, seizing the moment to build on our collective knowledge and success, and the legacy of major events in the region to realise new opportunities and growth for dance."

South West dance organisations shut up shop

16 Mar 2022

Two dance organisations in Devon and Plymouth are shutting down due to a lack of funding.

Dance in Devon is pausing operations for six months as its board considers future options, whilst Plymouth Dance will close at the end of July.

Despite successful funding applications and commissions, the organisations say they are hamstrung by their inability to cover staffing and other costs. 

Online consultations to discuss a new model of support for dance in the South West are scheduled for April 5 and 6.

“We want to ensure that the people of Devon and Plymouth can participate in dance activities for their own creativity and wellbeing, and that dance professionals can continue to thrive in the region,” the organisations said.

Dancing with disability

14 Mar 2022

As a trained dancer and choreographer, Rosie Heafford learned the hard way how to deal with an invisible disability. 

Brighton dance company launches US arm

09 Mar 2022

Brighton-based Parable Dance has launched a sister company in New York.

The company, which delivers inclusive workshops and classes for disabled people, is renaming itself as Parable Dance UK as it expands.

Co-Founders Natasha Britton and Erica Moshman will lead on the UK and US arms of the business respectively.

Their methods have proved popular abroad - they have also been asked to deliver training in Norway.

"We are thrilled that within just over two years we've expanded enough to be able to take this exciting step," Britton said.

"The UK are seen as leaders in inclusive dance approaches and we feel proud to be able to take these methods to the US, to support the next generations of dancers and teachers there."

Russian ballets cancelled across UK

01 Mar 2022

A series of events by Russian ballets have been cancelled following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Performances by the Russian State Ballet of Siberia were stopped at the Royal & Derngate theatre in Northampton, Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and The New Theatre Peterborough. 

The Ambassador Theatre Group has cancelled the same tour, scheduled for The Bristol Hippodrome and Edinburgh Playhouse.

Dublin’s Helix theatre pulled a performance by the Royal Moscow Ballet and London’s Royal Opera House withdrew the Bolshoi Ballet’s summer season.

Speaking on Twitter, Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries urged other features to “take action and stand by the people of Ukraine”.

“We can’t allow representatives of the Russian state to continue performing”.

Train station mini-operas celebrate female musicians

22 Feb 2022

Seven mini-operas were performed at St. Pancras International on Tuesday (February 8) to mark International Women's Day.

The works were created by female composers and musicians following an open call by the Royal Opera House's Jette Parker Young Artists Programme.

Titled Lost and Found, the project aims to improve the visibility of female creatives, as well as offering travellers "a moment of reflection in an unlikely space", the opera house says.

ROH is offering a free livestream of documentary Interrogating the Ballerina and plans to launch its new HerStory tour at Covent Garden later this week.

Scottish Ballet extends health and wellbeing classes

07 Feb 2022

Scottish Ballet has committed to a five-year extension of its health and wellbeing programme.

The dance company offers classes across Scotland for people living with long term conditions including Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Dementia.

Scottish Ballet’s Director of Engagement Catherine Cassidy said support from investment company Baillie Gifford will help develop the programme, which has run since 2015.

More than a million Scots live with neurological conditions. Studies show taking part in regular dance classes can improve balance, fatigue and cognitive performance.

Fragile livelihoods

11 Jan 2022

A collective of dance freelancers has initiated a critical response to the fragile nature of their livelihoods. Anna Alvarez and Alister O’Loughlin say they are aiming for long term change.

Brighton dance studio sets July opening

11 Jan 2022

Brighton & Hove's first purpose-built dance studio is set to open in July.

Construction of The Dance Space began nearly five years ago, following a 10-year fundraising campaign and financial support from Brighton & Hove City Council and the National Lottery.

The completed studio features two accessible ground-floor dance studios and a first-floor creation and performance space, as well as rooms and offices spaces for hire.

Artistic Director Cath James says the space will allow professional artists to work alongside dancers of all ages and abilities.

"The launch will mark a significant moment for Brighton & Hove, providing an important new cultural asset for the whole community to experience the joy and wellbeing that dance can offer every body."

Leaders take top honours in New Years list

Peter Murray at Yorkshire Sculpture Park
07 Jan 2022

Over 90 arts professionals were recognised for services to the sector in 2021.

Dance partnership to 'lift the curtain' for students

10 Dec 2021

A new partnership will "lift the curtain" on the the dance industry for students.

Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Academy of Dance will launch the new programme in February with a series of pre-show talks and workshops for dancers and company staff.

They aim to inspire young dancers and deepen their understanding and appreciation of ballet as an art form.

The academy's Artistic Director Gerard Charles says there is "so much more to studying ballet than simply learning the steps".

"We are all part of a large dance community that includes beginners, experienced dancers and teachers, and we learn from each other. I cannot wait to see how our dancers and teachers benefit from this amazing opportunity."

Former ballet principal jailed for sexual assaults

27 Oct 2021

Yat-Sen Chang, a former principal dancer at English National Ballet, has been sentenced to nine years' imprisonment for sexually abusing young dancers.

He was convicted on 13 counts and cleared of one offence in May.

Four students aged 16 to 18 were affected over a seven year period.

Prosecutors at Isleworth Crown Court said Chang believed his fame and status would protect him. He continues to deny the allegations.

English National Ballet has said it will review its safeguarding practices in light of the case.

Older women dancing

a woman dancing
26 Oct 2021

What is it like to perform as an older woman in an industry obsessed with youth? Sandy Cuthbert shares her experience of returning to the stage with ‘Epilogue’.

Dance is back – live and direct

group of dancers
06 Oct 2021

Birmingham International Dance Festival is a celebration of the return to outdoor arts. For Debbie Jardine and Raidene Carter, it is both a taste and a test for next year's Cultural Programme of the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Unvaccinated dancers bid to keep their identities private

28 Sep 2021

Professionals on Strictly Come Dancing who refuse to get vaccinated are trying to keep their identities hidden.

The Times reports they have hired lawyers in a bid to stop the Mail on Sunday naming two of the three dancers.

Whilst vaccination is not a requirement to take part in the popular TV show, the vaccine status of competitors and the right or otherwise of their partners to know has been a talking point in recent weeks.

Despite the show's strict safety protocols, singer Tom Fletcher and his professional partner, Amy Dowden, tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. There is no suggestion either was unvaccinated.


A golden thread running through a creative career

20 Jul 2021

Whether in policy development, advocacy or nurturing talent, Executive Director of Clore Leadership Hilary Carty’s career is born of a passion for arts and culture.

Who can dance?

Promotional poster for the National Youth Dance Festival 2021
06 Jul 2021

As the U.Dance National Festival returns in an online format this month, Cameron Ball shares how the event connects the nation’s young dancers with the best in the industry.

Dancers lead the arts in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Photo of Hilary Carty
15 Jun 2021

More than 60 arts professionals are included in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list, the most ethnically diverse to date. 


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