Goodbye 2017…

Alongside the ever-changing experience of parenting a toddler, with its daily doses of hilarity and tests of patience, I have been hugely fortunate this last year to have had some amazing times and met so many inspiring people.

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View of Kaapelitehdas in Helsinki across the frozen Baltic. The old cable factory is now chock full of theatres, studios and arts organisation offices.
  • January began with a chilly arrival in Helsinki (in -24C) for a three-month stint while my partner undertook a research sabbatical at the University of Helsinki. I was able to meet with 20-odd dance artists and cultural professionals working in Finland; organised a pop-up artist residency at Annantalo cultural centre, working with Cecilia Macfarlane on an intergenerational exploration of dance and space; was a visiting dramaturg for the National Theatre of Finland’s community theatre commission Karavaani, with director Jemina Sillanpää; and (somewhat off-piste) I taught a three-day professional writing workshop to 15 molecular biologists at the Finnish Institute for Molecular Medicine!
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Cecilia Macfarlane and Ruth Laurence, dancing together at Annantalo in Helsinki

In one outcome of my meetings in Finland, I can’t wait to work as a dramaturg with the incredibly exciting Finnish dance artist Johanna Nuutinen in 2018, supported by a Collaborate award by South East Dance.

  • In April I co-delivered the paper ‘Dance & Academia in Oxford: an egalitarian grass-roots model’ at the Dance Fields conference at Roehampton University, with Rachel Gildea, and later in the year curated two seminars on the theme ‘What is Dance without at Audience’ in Oxford, with a third seminar and a conference day yet to come in Spring 2018 as part of Dancin’ Oxford 2018.
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Chloe Middleton Metcalfe leads a miniature ceilidh as part of her seminar on English social dancing for Dance & Academia in Oxford
  • I undertook the 8 day training course and achieved accreditation as a Relational Dynamics coach, meeting some amazing people along the way
  • As part of my ongoing dramaturgy training, I undertook observerships with Struan Leslie working with choreographer Stephen Pelton at a residency at DanceBase in Edinburgh, and with Peggy Olislaegers as part of a choregraphic development project with Rambert Dance at The Lowry, Manchester
  • The best news of the year was my successful application to Arts Council England’s grants for the arts programme (using public money through the National Lottery), for funding towards my further professional development as a dramaturg over a year until Autumn 2018. This includes a number of opportunities from working with new artists, to delivering and participating in workshops, culminating in a residency at AMATA (Falmouth University) to research ideas about dramaturgy within community dance practice with Dr Ruth Pethybridge.
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On the train back from Norwich, where I worked with Hayley Matthews
  • In November, I was offered the position of Visual Arts Development Officer at the University of Reading, where from January 2018 I’ll be researching and writing an arts strategy for the whole university, alongside my freelance work.

What a year it’s been! I’ve met so many fantastic people along the way, and have been hugely supported in doing all this by family and friends. So I’ll be raising a glass (or seven) to friends old and new this new year’s eve, and looking with rosy-cheeked excitement to the opportunities and challenges of 2018. See you then!

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