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18 Dec 2020

Last year we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Jerwood DanceHouse and we were ready to start 2020 with some exciting new adventures. Although a lot of things didn’t happen quite as we planned, we’re determined to show you that despite the challenges of this year, so many things happened that are definitely worth celebrating – and here are just a few!


The year got off to a great start with Dickson Mbi’s Ipswich debut, with his work in progress solo, Enowate. We are very excited to be welcoming him back as our first live performance of 2021 – you can get your tickets to see the premiere here!

Although our theatre was closed for most of this year, it was a great opportunity to work with our friends and present digital screenings online – including LOL (lots of love) by Luca Silvestrini’s Protein, TooMortal by Shobana Jeyasingh Dance and Circadian (2020) by Rosemary Lee!

Enowate by Dickson Mbi , photo by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones


As the first lockdown began, we launched online classes in a variety of styles with something for everyone. We really enjoyed working with our tutors to make something special, and with more than 7,000 views, it’s safe to say that you enjoyed them too! We later moved our classes to Zoom, and it was great to dance with you live, even if it wasn’t in the Jerwood DanceHouse. We loved seeing pictures and videos of everyone taking part and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year – you can book your classes now by clicking here.

The DanceEast Centre For Advanced Training students also experienced training online this year and spent the last week of July taking part in their Digital Summer Intensive. They worked with Jamaal Burkmar, James Cousins, Alleyne Dance, Martin Lawrance and Anna Williams to create a series of digital works that were performed live on Zoom. At the end of the week, the graduating class of 2020 had a virtual ceremony to celebrate their time with us on the programme.

Similarly, the University of Suffolk BA (Hons) Dance Degree students created two projects on Zoom for their final assessments of the term. This year saw the first cohort graduate from the degree and after a live digital sharing of their final piece, they had a virtual celebration with friends, family, and staff. Applications to join in September 2021 are open – click here to find out more!


Alongside our performances and classes, we partnered with local organisations in the community to give young people access to our dance classes. Groups from 4YP, Suffolk Family Carers, Suffolk New College, and The Avenues took part in classes including Hip Hop, Musical Theatre and Creative Dance. During lockdown, each group held a digital sharing to show what they had created! Click here to find out more.

Together with The Place we teamed up with the UK’s leading dance organisations DanceXchange, National Dance Company Wales, Pavilion Dance South West and Phoenix Dance Theatre, to create Let’s Move! a national summer school. Over 100 young people danced with artists from all over the UK – some of you even joined us from Greece, South Africa, and Spain! This is something that wouldn’t have been possible without the power of digital access. 

As restrictions eased, we hosted pop up dance parties across Ipswich for our Dancing in the Parks project, where Dance Artists set up socially distanced squares and taught short routines in different styles. Lots of you joined us for our final weekend when we teamed up with Casson and Friends to create a brand-new version of The Dance WE Made.

As restrictions began to be re-introduced, we were determined to continue bringing people opportunities to dance, like our Dance from Home project with Sherrington Care Home. Armed with speakers and a gazebo, Dance Artist Karen Pratt led residents in simple dance phrases through their windows and made sure they kept moving throughout this long year. Karen said, “It’s such a brilliant hour spent – lots of people dancing, having a laugh, and trying something new with us!”


Along with the challenges of this year, there were lots of opportunities! Supported by the Jerwood Foundation, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership through the Business Resilience and Recovery Grant Scheme, Tezmae Charitable Trust, and the generous support of individual donors, we were able to develop our Digital Suite – a green screen studio and editing room – so that we can continue to progress digitally. We quickly put the suite to practice and commissioned two digital works to end our year on a high.

The Super Awesome Digital Disco – behind the scenes! Photo by Chris Nash

The first work was Solstice – an interactive window display. Looking out of the Jerwood DanceHouse are two screens, and by moving your bodies in front of them, you can take control of the dancers. Solstice is available until the end of January, so come and have a play! Click here to find out more.

We then used our Digital Suite to bring the Christmas party direct to living rooms across the country with the Super Awesome Digital Disco – complete with a DJ, party games, classic tunes, cheesy hits, and plenty of cheesy moves to match!

Solstice – Photos by Chris Nash Design by Soul City Arts

Finally, we’d like to take a moment to say thank you for your continued support during this challenging period and thank you to our funders for allowing us to reimagine activities by repurposing funds to operate within COVID restrictions.

We hope you enjoyed spending 2020 with us, either in person or digitally. Were you involved in any of these events? What were your favourite parts of 2020 with DanceEast? Let us know on social media by using #DanceEast2020.



Choreography and Direction: Kwesi Johnson
Dancers: Reece Calver, Rosie May, Rikkai Scott, Jorgia Vaughan
Creative Technology: Luca Biada & Michele Panegrossi – F E N Y C E
Filming and compositing: Luca Biada – F E N Y C E
Graphic Design: Mohammed Ali Aerosol – Soul City Arts
Photography: Chris Nash
Stylist: Rouged Milk


The Super Awesome Digital Disco

Choreographer: Tom Hobden
Disco Hosts: Tom Hobden and  Laura Bryars
Creative Producer: Helen Dawson
Digital Artist: Wayne Sables
Film Visuals: Kate Flurrie
Composer: Fazer Merrick
Costume: Jack Parry
Technicians: James Alesic, Damien Goddard, and Joshua Stuart
Thanks to Jo Rhodes, What Associates, Greg Turbyne, DanceEast, and Studio Wayne McGregor



Community Mirrored by Dance and Dance from Home have been supported by Suffolk Community Foundation through the Dance: Arts & Culture Fund and the Suffolk Coronavirus Fund Core respectively.

DanceEast is generously supported by Arts Council England, Suffolk County Council and Ipswich Borough Council.