Top Six Places you should check out to Kickstart your Dance career

‘Lucid’ by Mae-li Evans, Jack Deslandes and Tim Lo. Photo by Jamie Corbin

Tim takes you through her favourite Bristol organisations to go to that will help make that dance career dream a reality.

So you’ve watched all the dance films and videos you possibly can, or you’ve been jamming to top tunes (with or without your friends) in your bedroom for months, or you might’ve even been training and going to dance classes for years – and now you want to venture out into the world and make creating dance and movement pieces your profession.

But how do you start? Who do you go to for support? Where do you showcase your work? Inspired by the Knowing me, Knowing you event hosted by Bristol Dance Futures last month, I’ve compiled my top six cultural organisations that offer ways to connect to the dance scene in Bristol, that also support generating and showcasing your first works.

Disclaimer: there are many more great organisations in Bristol than the ones I’ve chosen of course, but these are places that should be a useful starting point.

‘Women-Wise’ by Untold Dance Theatre. Photo by Richard Worts

  1. 1. Theatre Bristol

Theatre Bristol is my go-to for all things related to live performance-making in the city. You can find out about upcoming shows, events, programmes, classes, schemes, workshops, jobs and opportunities, or promote your own when you’re ready to showcase your work. Dance Futures is a part of Theatre Bristol, and they offer all kinds of artist support, from open office days, to 1:1 advice. They are incredibly supportive and devoted to helping creatives progress. They will offer guidance specific to what you want to do and what you need right now to start your dance career.

‘Deepspace’ by James Batchelor and Collaborators, Arnolfini

  1. 2. Arnolfini

I love the Arnolfini. They facilitate dance workshops, networking and engagement opportunities, and they also curate great dance pieces, such as their recent showing Deepspace. They offer space in-kind to creatives as well. If you don’t know what that is, it’s when instead of paying you actual money, an organisation or individual provide you with material or skills-based support that holds a certain monetary value. They recently supported an upcoming dance film I am making for Rife (keep your eyes peeled!). They are particularly committed to cross art-form conversations, so if you’re keen to merge dance with different creative disciplines, this is the place to go to.

‘Ladylike’ by Ella Mesma, IGNiTE 2018, Trinity Centre. Photo by Jessica Bartolini

  1. 3. Trinity Community Arts

I have probably been to Trinity Centre the most for dance-related things. From regular classes such as the Who Am I project to seeing dance performances and going to events such as Dance Futures, the centre is a perfect hub for creative people. You can find out how they provide subsidised space for rehearsals and workshops, as well as how they programme local dance artists to showcase their work. There are also regular callouts for their artist residencies as part of IGNiTE that include use of their spaces, advice, connection to local community groups and promotion of your work. My favourite thing about Trinity is their dedication to developmental opportunities for dance artists in a huge range of dance styles and works.

Uchenna Dance Workshop, IGNITE 2018, Trinity Centre. Photo by Khali Ackford

  1. 4. Rising Arts Agency

I have a lot of appreciation for what Rising does. They provide mentoring support to 16-25-year olds with creative professionals, platforms to showcase your work, commissioning and networking opportunities, as well as creative leadership training. I love that you can look through their mentors list and match with professionals who you would like to connect with. They are particularly keen on supporting young people who are currently under represented in the creative industry, so if you feel that you don’t see many dance creatives like yourself in the city, it’s time to get in touch with them to find out how you can turn dance into your career.

Deepraj Singh, ‘The Troth’ by Gary Clarke. Photo by Carrie Davenport

  1. 5. Creative Youth Network (CYN)

CYN is another organisation that specifically supports young creatives age 25 and under. They provide careers advice and run free creative short courses that gives you benefits as an alumni even after the courses end. Look out for their Creative Futures programme callout which is particularly useful for support in generating and showcasing your work, especially if you would like to be a freelance dance practitioner, as they provide paid opportunities and professional business support to  guide you through the freelance process.

‘Substratum’ by Full Tilt. Photo by Andre Pattenden

  1. 6. Circomedia

I have so much love for Circomedia as they are one of the biggest organisations dedicated solely to developing and creating work around movement and bodies. Not only a circus and aerial arts training school, they also programme shows that combine dance with circus and physical theatre, and are really encouraging towards creatives who work in these areas. One of my favourite events from them is Testing Ground, where they curate a series of work-in-progress, giving movement-based artists support in their creative process and valuable constructive showcasing opportunity. Look out for their next callout!

Countless Yellow Chairs by Laila Diallo and Jules Maxwell. Photo by Jack Offord

Honorary mentions:

  • Tobacco Factory Theatres has exciting stuff coming up as they are opening a new studio theatre which looks like it will be perfect for hosting dance works. Check out their artist development programme and keep a lookout for residency opportunities and permanent dance classes.
  • Bristol Old Vic programme great touring dance shows, some of my favourites are Ballet Black and Hofesh Shechter’s SHOW. They also host an Open Stage event which they are hoping to bring back soon, where creatives from all over Bristol showcase their work on the main stage for free. Also keep your eyes peeled for their new Front of House space which is opening in September, as there are talks of it being a new dance hub.

BalletBoyz at Bristol Old Vic

  • The Island is a studio complex, arts facility and events space. They offer dance classes, workshops and a few dance residencies per year. You can also apply to join their dance space membership scheme that gives you discounted access to their studio.
  • RISE Youth Dance are a wonderful Bristol based youth dance company that offer a variety of classes, training and performance opportunities. Their annual trainee programme offers you the perfect chance to develop extra skills for your dance career in teaching, arts administration, fundraising and more.
  • Pavilion Dance South West – If you would like to venture further afield from Bristol, this is the perfect place to find out more about the wider South West dance community.  

RISE Youth Dance

Have faith in yourself, be fearless, do as much research, go to as many events and talk to as many people as you can. The more you find out about the dance scene in Bristol and the more people you connect with, the more you’ll know what works for you and how you best utilise and fit with the wonderful and vibrant dance community in in this city. Good luck! I can’t wait to see where your dance journey will take you.

Do you have any dance tips? Let us know if you’re part of any schemes or if you’re presenting your dance work on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

[Images courtesy of Dance Futures Advocate Ruth Hecht]