Aspiring dance leaders debate future of art form

A new generation of dance artists gathered in the UK earlier this month for DanceEast’s eighth Rural Retreat.

A diverse group of 22 aspiring dance leaders met for a series of discussions and debates centred on embracing change within the industry.

Brendan Keaney, artistic director and chief executive of DanceEast, said: ‘The Rural Retreats are a unique opportunity for those playing leading roles in dance across the world to come together to discuss the big issues and consider new strategies to drive the art form forward.

‘This year’s cohort was an exceptional group, interrogating how dance might engage with change to thrive. The quality and rigour of the discussions that took place was genuinely inspirational and demonstrated that the Retreats are as relevant today as when they were first started in 2003, to consider the future of ballet in the 21st century.’

Topics at the event, which ran from 2-4 January at Jerwood DanceHouse in Ipswich, included the role of management in leadership, creating allies, making good decisions, and the need for dance to be more creative in engaging the wider world, as well as for leaders to find their own new paths.

Dance Consortium’s Jeanette Siddall CBE said: ‘The similarities between being a leading performer and leading developments in and beyond dance became really clear over the weekend. This next generation of dance leaders showed they had the qualities and capabilities to ensure a bright, meaningful and inspiring future for the art form.’

Speakers included consultant Assis Carreiro; Christopher Hampson, artistic director of Scottish Ballet; and Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, chief executive of The Place.

This year’s selected participants included Christy Bolingbroke, deputy director for advancement at ODC in San Francisco; Rebecca Evans, founder of Pell Ensemble; Paolo Mangiola, resident artist at Balletto di Roma; Elizabeth Old, associate artistic director at Australian Dance Theatre; and Morgann Runacre-Temple, choreographer in residence Ballet Ireland.

Located in Suffolk, the national centre of dance for the East of England aims to equip a new generation of artistic leaders with the skills and knowledge to meet changing demands and trends in the dance sector. The residential course provides a short, intensive experience that includes opportunities to hear from key figures in the world of business, sport and the arts.