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2019 in review

18 Dec 2019

DanceEast has had an extremely busy year celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Jerwood DanceHouse. We’ve already mentioned our top ten moments of 2019, which you can read by clicking here – but here are some more things we’re particularly proud of…


In Spring we presented Host, which celebrated the artistry of the older dancer. DanceEast and our performance company EncoreEast, co-programmed a day for dancers, practitioners, artists, teachers and researchers to come together and ask vital questions about what older performers can bring to the artform. Workshops were led by choreographers, including DanceEast Associate Artist Joseph Toonga, with discussions being held with many interesting guest speakers – including former Dance Umbrella Director, Betsy Gregory. The day concluded on a real high with invited performance companies sharing their latest work in the theatre.

We visited Hadleigh and Stowmarket with our Hullabaloo project, featuring a series of intergenerational community dance classes, which encouraged everyone to get involved. Four professional dance artists, Lizzie Hawes, Tommy Norris, Karen Pratt, and Anna Rowe ran weekly dance classes working with community groups who were encouraged to share stories and memories of their town and communities. These stories were used to create movement that was performed in a sharing in each town at the end of March. We would like to say a special thank you to Councillors Mick Fraser and Gary Green, along with Babergh & Mid Suffolk District Council, for all of their support.


Our Summer season began with Make, Do & Friends, a new programme for older people in rural areas. The aim was to bring creative workshops and events to the villages of Mid-Suffolk and Babergh, providing the opportunity to share and learn new skills, whilst enjoying a cuppa with friends and neighbours. Glass House Dance performed A Little Bit of Light, an emotionally powerful interactive dance performance that combined music, dance and puppetry, as well as moments of audience interaction. It was an enchanting, uplifting and gentle story of rediscovering the joy of things lost and found.

In June, we worked with Lowestoft Museum, Glass House Dance and members of the local community to unearth stories from the Museum’s exhibitions and share them through a dance performance. The exhibitions came to life, spilling out into the park through dance and music in a joyful celebration of the museum and the craftspeople that used to live in the town.

Meanwhile, at the Jerwood Dancehouse we presented our first ever Double Bills – each night featuring two up and coming artists. First, we had The Hiccup Project and Alleyne Dance, an evening of powerful women duets. While the second evening presented two solos, Lanre Malaolu and Mohamed Toukabri – both evenings were entertaining and vastly different. All the artists are at the start of their careers and we wanted audiences to have the opportunity to experience their work at this exciting early stage.

Later in the season we spent some time at the beach with First Light Festival, a brand new, 24-hour, multi-arts festival in the beautiful beach-side setting of Lowestoft. The festival ran continuously through changing tides, light and darkness, sun and stars, and created a truly unique shared experience of music, dance, film, art, science, talks, walks, fire, kids’ activities, sports, well-being and workshops. We programmed the Moon Dance stage in partnership with First Light Festival, which included live performances and workshops, including Tap and Body Percussion from Avalon Rathgeb and Old Kent Road, Swing Dance with Temujin Gil and Sunanda Biswas and an old-fashioned Tea Dance. Not forgetting a bit of stomping and dancing on Sunday morning with a Baby Loves to Boogie disco!

In July, over 100 community dancers were featured in House to Home, a special performance inspired by the story of how the Jerwood DanceHouse has been and will continue to be, a home to so many wonderful dance experiences. The event featured a documentary style performance – including live dance, film and interview, that brought together the past, present and future artists of the Jerwood DanceHouse. The story captured the day-to-day life of the building in an event that celebrated everything housed in the building. UNIT artist Tom Hobden led the open community group, made up of DanceEast Performance Company members from the past 10 years, along with potential future members.


Our Autumn season began on a high with our Open House weekend in September – a celebration of the past ten years and the start of the next chapter for the beautiful Jerwood DanceHouse. Throughout the day, there was a mixture of taster classes suitable for all ages and abilities, including ballet, contemporary, musical theatre and hip hop, and a series of bitesize dance performances in the Studio Theatre. Alongside the dance activity there were arts and crafts, face painting, storytelling and building tours.

We also welcomed our second cohort of BA (Hons) Dance students. This is the second year of the first two-year work-based dance degree in the UK – a unique partnership between the University of Suffolk and DanceEast.

Later in the year, the University of Suffolk’s Visual Arts students paid us a visit to draw students on the BA(Hons) Dance degree. They were among a few different art groups who came to DanceEast this year, including Peninsula Art Group who came along and drew one of our performance companies, Dance Unlimited. In addition, a variety of local artists came to watch Shobana Jeyasingh Dance in our Company Experience workshop, which allowed people to draw and watch the company during their rehearsal. If this is something that appeals to you, we’ll be hosting another opportunity in Spring to watch and draw Mark Bruce Company.


It’s been another busy year for our Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) too. The year kicked off with our students working with Sir Richard Alston, creating a new piece which was performed as part of Richard Alston Dance Company’s performance at Norwich Theatre Royal in February. Sir Richard Alston is just one of the many amazing artists our students have been fortunate enough to work with this year. For our end of year show we had several new works created by artists such as Joseph Toonga, Jess & Morgs, James Wilton Dance Company, Sarah Blanc, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, Uchenna Dance Company and Umanoove/Didy Veldman. This is always a highlight of the CAT year and a joy to see the students perform and share their hard work with family, friends and supporters of DanceEast.  We also said goodbye to our graduating students of 18/19, which is always a sad moment – but a pleasure to see them pursuing their passions. This year our graduating students gained places at Trinity Laban, London Contemporary Dance School, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Bird College, Rambert School and Royal Conservatoire Antwerp.

We hope you’ve enjoyed spending the last year with us! Were you involved in any of these events? What were your favourite parts of 2019 at DanceEast? Let us know on social media by using the hashtag #DanceEast2019.