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20 Dec 2022

Image Credit: Alexander Ward

We have had a wonderful year back at the Jerwood DanceHouse and it has been fantastic to see people come together once again to enjoy performances and take part in dance activities inside and outside the building. The DanceEast team have worked incredibly hard this year to bring so much amazing activity to life!

We launched into our spring season with an incredible DanceEast co-commission of the reworked Enowate by Dickson MBI, an inspiring evening of solo performance by Dickson, inspired by a life-changing journey to his ancestral home in Cameroon. February saw the world premiere of Eleesha Drennan’s double bill, All The Time In The World – a special coup for Ipswich before it headed to London.

Throughout the year, we’ve celebrated the joy of dance for all ages and the importance of connection between them. During half term, DanceEast became a bustling hive of activity, filled with families and children. In Spring, we were delighted to have two beautiful, imaginative shows suitable for even the tiniest of audience members, with Stories of a Little Watersprite by Sophie Nüzel, and the immersive Club Origami created by Takeshi Matsumoto.

In March, we hosted U.Dance East, a showcase of the finest dance from youth dance groups, companies and schools from across the region. Then in May, we were delighted to collaborate with EncoreEast to present HOST, a celebration of dance and age. The day celebrated a full spectrum of dancers aged 50+, from those who have just discovered dance, to experienced amateurs, and former professionals.

To start the summer season off strong, we were delighted to share a double bill of previews from two exciting emerging dance companies, Matsena Productions and House of Absolute, ahead of their London premieres at Sadler’s Wells. This spring and summer, we travelled around the county with a range of exciting performances and workshops for everyone to get involved in. Highlights include dancing on the sandy beaches of Lowestoft for First Light Festival, in dusty festival fields at Latitude and Primadonna, and in local parks across Ipswich for our Dancing in the Parks series. Another highlight was the launch of our first ever Youth Takeover, a youth-lead, youth-directed ‘micro-festival’, and a platform for young creative leaders to curate and programme their own day of dance workshops, performances, and art.

The DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training’s (CAT) end of year show was a fantastic finale to bring the summer season to a close. Students performed a mixed bill of original works commissioned by influential national and international choreographers, including Flexer & Sandiland, Cathy Waller, Anatomical, HUMANHOOD, Glass House Dance, Takeshi Matsumoto, FUBUNATION and Hofesh Shechter. A week later, the CAT graduates performed at the National Theatre’s River Stage festival at London’s South Bank performing an extract from Hofesh Shechter’s iconic work, Political Mother.

In August, we were excited to announce our next cohort of Associate Artists, who will collaborate closely with the organisation until April 2025. The artists are Laura Anderson and Sarah Lewis, Paris Crossley, Sarah Golding and Yukiko Masui, and Cathy Waller. The initial search for this group of artists started in November 2021 and we were interested in hearing from women (including trans women) and non-binary people, given the current lack of opportunity for such artists, and gaps in the support offered.

Swiftly, we were launched into the Autumn season, and we were delighted to begin the season with a fantastic performance by Associate Artist’s Sarah and Yukiko, who make up SAY. They premiered their performance the album, bringing the infectious energy of a music gig to the stage, and even got the audience dancing along in their seats!

We then welcomed critically acclaimed Russell Maliphant Dance Company back to DanceEast with their premiere of VORTEX, a performance influenced by the works of Jackson Pollock, and abstract expressionism which was a great hit for dance and art lovers alike! Next up, we collaborated with Britten Pears and were off to the beautiful concert hall at Snape Maltings. Internationally celebrated Shobana Jeyasingh Dance presented Clorinda Agoniste Clorinda the Warrior, an explosive union of opera, dance and film inspired by Monteverdi’s masterpiece, Il Combattimento. We wrapped up October’s shows with Joss Arnott’s TIN MAN, a heart-warming tale for families and a perfect pre-Halloween treat!

It has been great to see new and regular faces return to the Jerwood DanceHouse for our dance classes throughout the year. It’s been exciting to introduce a few new classes, including our After School Dance Clubs and Saturday Dance Clubs which have been a fantastic opportunity for children to get creative and express themselves through movement. In response to your feedback, we added new levels for our Ballet and Contemporary classes to ensure everyone can enjoy dancing at their own ability.

This Autumn, we launched Felixstowe Movers to join our ever-growing network of Movers classes for over 55’s. We also introduced our new Mini Movers classes for toddlers and their grown-ups in Hadleigh Library and Thurston Library. Our Dance from Home project continued in care homes across Ipswich, Stowmarket, and Bury St Edmunds, as well as our Care to Dance programme for those living with dementia and their carers. We’re delighted 5 new participants joined us for Dance for Parkinson’s in the autumn term, which we continue to work on with English National Ballet.

Our Digital Primaries programme has been an ever-expanding success, with 7 schools now taking part. The programme delivers high quality, creative, cross-curricular dance into primary schools for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2. The programme provides regular, live lessons for children streamed directly into schools, co-delivered between professional Dance Artists and class teachers, alongside written lesson plans and technical support. We are excited to see how this continues to grow in 2023.

This November, Avant Garde Dance returned to Ipswich with their explosive new performance Illegal Dance – The Stage Show and previous DanceEast Associate Artist Joseph Toonga brought Born To Exist: The Woman I Know to the theatre (with current Associate Artist Paris Crossley performing). We had fun at the return of Baby Loves to Boogie, a firework themed edition. Under 5‘s and their families came along to the DanceHouse and danced to our live DJ and brilliant dance workshop.

Just like that, we were in the midst of December madness! The DanceEast team had lots of fun crafting and making Alice in Wonderland themed decorations for our Christmas tree and foyer, (including hanging cards, felt hearts and tiny ‘Drink Me’ bottles!). To end the year, we fell down the rabbit hole with Jasmin Vardimon Company’s ALiCE, their magical interpretation of Lewis Carroll’s classic story, Alice in Wonderland.

Now for a rest, before we do it all again in 2023!