On 28th October, 160 delegates and speakers came together at Horizon College in Barnsley, for Yorkshire Dance’s annual conference, Dance Includes.
The conference sparked critical debate about the Creative Case for Diversity, exploring who is included in the work we do.
The opening keynote speech by Arts Council England’s, Abid Hussain, set the tone for the day and further provocations were delivered by Gary Clarke, Luca Silvestrini, Jamal Gerald, Ines Soria-Donlan and Vicki Igbokwe.
Workshop activity explored a variety of areas, with practical workshops in dance and dementia, intergenerational dance, early years movement play and cultural fusion. Presentations and discussions explored supporting young disabled artists, dancing cultures and dancing with new communities. Speakers brought regional, national and international perspectives and included SAA UK, Unlimited, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, Primed for Life, TIN Arts, Breana, Instant Dissidence, Gary Clarke, Dr Richard Coaten and Uchenna Dance to name a few. Dr. Richard Coaten’s session kindled a “new curiosity and interest” in the field of dance and dementia for several delegates in his session.
Devika Rao Dance Theatre shared live performance with an extract of Ya Devi whilst Jenny Wilson of Irregular Arts presented a documentary film of 75 Dorothys. Delegates were welcomed by a performance from the StreetKingz – a boys dance company based at Horizon College.
The final plenary session was brilliantly executed by Wendy Houston; delivering a stream of consciousness with word association, audience interaction, and abstract thought, all of which culminated in a sort of whirlwind of words and action. One delegate described Wendy’s plenary as “unforgettable” and “inspired”- they told other conferences to take note!
The value of the annual conference is immense, demonstrating the commitment of the Yorkshire region to explore, debate and examine particular areas of practice. It is the starting point for many conversations and collaborations within the dance sector and reflects the commitment that Yorkshire Dance has in uniting professional artists with community practice whilst involving a wide range of individuals and organisations from local authorities, to education, sport and health.
One delegate described the conference as an “excellent networking opportunity”. They then went on to say that “being able to meet people from public health and non-arts organisations highlighted the importance of making connections with people outside of the dance sector”.
Dance Includes is planned and delivered on behalf of the Regional Dance Development Network (RDDN). The RDDN will meet in December to discuss the next steps for development.
“May Dance Includes become an important annual moment of reflection and provocation on inclusion and diversity” Delegate, Dance Includes