Dance in Birmingham and the West Midlands has blossomed in recent years. Companies such as 2Faced Dance and Rosie Kay Dance Company are now well-established on the national scene, and there are a host of promising emerging artists. To help things along even more, Birmingham’s DanceXchange (dx) has announced the first two strands of a new Artist Development Programme designed to support the growing community of dance artists in the region: the dx Associates and the dx Choreography Award
The new programme overall has been shaped in conversation with artists and deliberately tailored for different levels of experience. Designed to enable recipients to make work, refine their craft, gain exposure, and learn the business of dance, the new programme includes open-access and invitation-only opportunities.
The dx Associates programme is invitation only and for talented and ambitious artists who have strong ideas for high-quality productions. Chosen artists will be supported for up to two years with a bespoke development package including studio and production space, mentoring, guidance and a commission. The DanceXchange aims to present the premiere of their work as part of its performance season.
The first dx Associates for 2017-2018 are Rudi Cole and Júlia Robert Parés of Humanhood and Carlos Pons Guerra, choreographer and founder of DeNada Dance Theatre.
Humanhood is a Birmingham-based company founded in 2015. It aims to create thoughtful productions that merge energy, shifting light, sound and movement, evoking an extraordinary experience for the audiences. Productions include Without Walls Consortium commissioned outdoor duet Orbis and full length theatre production ZERO, winner of First Prize at Madrid’s International Choreography Competition, Pasoa2.
Carlos Pons Guerra is known for his darkly humorous, highly theatrical and vigorously physical work that often explores themes of sexual, gender and cultural identity, as in the Ham and Passion triple bill. DeNada Dance Theatre was nominated for the UK Critics’ Circle National Dance ‘Best Independent Company’ Award in 2016.
Pons Guerra says, “Having the backing of an organisation like dx will allow the capacity and management of my company to grow, giving me more space to focus on my choreography, and grow as an artist. I am very interested in using this opportunity to expand the scale of my work from small to mid-scale. dx also has a great reputation for excellent outdoor work, so I would like to use this opportunity to explore working in that genre as well.”
The dx Choreography Award is an ongoing programme for artists with the ambition to grow and further develop their practice, and will support up to eight early-career artists each year. Accessed through an open call process, successful applicants will get support in the form of studio and production space, advice and mentoring, as well as a cash bursary and the opportunity to present their work to industry contacts as part of a dx sharing event. Five dx Choreography Award Holders have been announced.
Currently Creative Producer for Birmingham Dance Network, Rebecca Thomas has been working in dance for over twelve years as a performer, teacher, facilitator, producer, curator and choreographer. The award will enable her to develop her solo piece Here We Are.
Laura Vanhulle has worked with several Midlands dance companies including ACE Dance and Music, Motionhouse, Aakash Odedra and Sonia Sabri Company. The award will support her work-in-progress Infinite Womanhood giving her the opportunity to work with a dramaturg for the first time.
Adam Rutherford is Artistic Director of Rutherford Dance Company. He will be using his award to develop ONE, a frank and honest autobiographical solo.
Subhash Viman Gorania came to Indian classical dance through hip-hop, which accounts for an individual style that goes beyond the classical vocabulary. He will be developing the dramatic structure and technical boundaries of his new work three.
Last but not least is recent winner of the New Adventures Choreography Award, Jamaal Burkmar. He will be developing a new work which explores the exciting nature of explosive movement, inspired by ominous and vivid descriptions by Syrian and Sudanese Refugees he met while working on another project.