Article in Arts Professional

Article in Arts Professional

A European Union-funded dance project won ‘success story’ status from a panel of experts for its impact, creative approach and the inspiration it gave others. Carole Blade tells the story.

Photo of dancer on floor
Photo: Matt Wright

Between 2012 and 2014 Chapter arts centre, through the Coreo Cymru dance development project, led and managed an EU-funded programme, Dance Roads Open Process (DROP), which provided support to small-scale contemporary dance across Europe.

For the artists, it was the springboard towards many new avenues, offering different creative inspiration and new connections for presenting their work

We worked in partnership with Dance Roads, a cross-border network dedicated to supporting innovative choreographers and providing them with opportunities to emerge on to the international stage.

Success story status

Earlier this year we received the welcome news that it had been awarded ‘success story’ status by a panel of EU experts.

As defined by the European Commission, ‘Success stories’ are “finalised projects that have distinguished themselves by their impact, contribution to policy-making, innovative results and/or creative approach and can be a source of inspiration for others”.

Just 33 projects were awarded ‘success story’ status from a pool of over 700 EU-funded projects. Between 2007 and 2013, three were UK-led with two led by Cardiff-based organisations: Chapter/Coreo Cymru for DROP; and Ffotogallery, based at Chapter, for Diffusion Festival. Both projects were funded through the EU’s small-scale cooperation strand and match funded by the Arts Council of Wales.

Expanding networks

Our aim for DROP was to develop and expand the support currently available to the small-scale contemporary dance sector in Europe. The network was celebrating its 25th anniversary and we wanted to offer further opportunities to artists beyond the network’s usual biennial touring events, and to explore new relationships.

The two-year programme provided practical and artistic tools to enhance choreographic practice, developed an interactive tool that mapped European dance networks, and hosted a number of platforms supporting dialogue and exchange between dance leaders, promoters and artists.

DROP culminated with the five participating choreographers Jo Fong (UK and resident artist at Chapter), Jasper van Luijk (Netherlands), Andrea Gallo Rosso (Italy), Teilo Troncy (France) and Sarah Bronsard (Canada), all presenting their newly developed work to audiences in the partner venues accompanied by surrounding insight events.

Supportive environment

Together with the other network members Generale Oost (Arnhem), Mosaico Danza (Turin), Glob Théâtre (Bordeaux) and international partner Tangente (Montreal), we wanted to offer an environment where we could learn from and be inspired by each other and gain new skills to support career development and international profile, for both the individual artists and for organisations supporting choreographic and audience development.

The selected choreographers and their dancers from each of the partner countries were all at a stage of development where they could benefit from the actions of DROP, having previously created innovative work but not yet emerged on to the international stage.

The participants were supported and guided through the creative process by French choreographer Emanuel Grivet, whose sensitive and open approach to mentoring was inspiring and greatly felt by all the participants. For the artists, it was the springboard towards many new avenues, offering different creative inspiration and new connections for presenting their work, and importantly the confidence to promote their work more widely.

As organisations, the project gave us the opportunity to look beyond our own infrastructure and programme, giving us time to meet and find out about others and opportunities to develop new relationships and partnerships. This has had a lasting legacy on what we do as a network and as individual organisations.

A second bid

The network membership has since expanded to eight European countries, with new partners National Centre for Dance Romania (Bucharest), SÍN Arts and Cultural Centre (Budapest), Studio ALTA (Prague) and National Palace of Culture (Sofia). Having submitted a new programme bid to Creative Europe’s large-scale cooperation scheme, this time led by the Netherlands partner, we were spurred on by our ‘success story’ status in the hope that we would once again be successful.

Alas, this was not the case as we recently found out, with only 15 out of the 111 applications receiving a successful outcome.

As a network, we are highly motivated and committed to our shared objectives and will endeavour to find ways to continue working together across Europe. A goal I’m personally holding on to as the UK and its arts sector enters a time of great uncertainty.

Carole Blade is Creative Producer at Chapter.