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Donna Meierdiercks tells us from about her career, from Can-Can girl to Dance Producer

by Tanya Holt

Freelance Dance Producer (2007-present)
I love the independence and variety of this work. It allows me to learn new skills and meet new people with every project. Theresa Beattie (then Director of Artist Development at The Place) dug me out of my postnatal obscurity to manage the then-unknown choreographer Hofesh Shechter before he set up his own company. From there, Jean Abreu convinced me to take on his Edinburgh Festival Fringe production with live music by noise/glitch band 65daysofstatic and the subsequent UK tour. I’m now producing BLOOD, his fabulous collaboration with Italian digital artists Mirko Arcese and Luca BIada using images by Gilbert and George. I’m also working with Alexander Whitley (Affiliate Choreographer of the Royal Ballet) on his Royal Opera House-commissioned work with digital artists Marshmallow Laser Feast and producing Freddie Opoku-Addaie’s new solo.

Roger Williams University Adjunct Faculty for London Dance programme (2010-present)
This work brings me back to my roots. My first visit to London was as a student on this programme in 1984. Now I’m working to expand the programme by giving lectures, and making connections between the US students and UK dance institution and artists. Working with young dancers who have their whole careers ahead of them makes me remember why I fell in love with dance in the first place. I also get to see about 25 dance performances in London every autumn.

Mother of Amazing Little Girl (2004-present)
This is, and will always be, the hardest and best job I’ve ever had.

Dance & Performance Coordinator, Southbank Centre (2003-04 & 2006)
I really value this experience for giving me the chance to see the dance industry from the programmer’s and venue’s perspective. This knowledge has given me a better understanding of what venues want and need from artists and how they operate which is a great advantage in my current work. I never got over the thrill of arriving at the buzzy, world-class Southbank Centre and realising that I worked there.

Founder and Director, On Your Feet Arts Management  (2001 – 2003)
Composer, Errollyn Wallen MBE was the first person to take a chance on me as a new arrival from the US. As a freelance artist manager I offered assistance to a variety of clients in strategic planning, tour development, fundraising, grant writing, board development, marketing, you name it. 

Special Projects Officer, The Prince’s Foundation for Architecture and the Built Environment  (2001)
Within two months of landing in London, I had St. James’ Palace on my speed dial! What a way to get immersed in British culture. Initially I worked as assistant to the Chief Executive but soon was responsible for the research and development of a new programme of short courses in urban regeneration and town making. Other projects included the organisation of a visit by HRH the Prince of Wales to several successful urban regeneration projects. Interesting… but I missed the arts.

Coordinator of Fellowship Programme, Rhode Island State Council On The Arts, USA (1999-2000)
This role gave me insight into how government arts funding bodies operate and what they need to see in artists’ applications. The best bit was that I worked across all art forms and facilitated the assessment panel discussions so I learned a lot about everything from sculpture to mime.

Dancer, Co-Artistic Director and Executive Director, Groundwerx Dance Theatre, USA (1989-1998)
I founded this contemporary dance company with two fellow graduates. This 13-year experience literally laid the groundwork for everything I’ve done since. Knowing what it’s like to be a struggling dance artist has given me the impetus to see others succeed.

Magician’s Assistant and Can-Can Girl, The Great Escape Fun Park, USA (1982-83) Learning how to make magic and do high kicks are handy skills for an Arts Producer.

Jean Abreu’s BLOOD premieres at Lakeside Theatre, Colchester on 18 May and is at the Linbury Studio Theatre at the Royal Opera House on 27 and 28 June.

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