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Ipswich’s Jerwood DanceHouse marks its first decade with 10 Celebratory Events including world premieres, celebrations of age, youth and community, and a star-studded gala

21 Feb 2019

A flagship addition to the regenerated Ipswich waterfront, the Jerwood DanceHouse was the vision of DanceEast who wanted to build themselves a home dedicated to dance, for artists and the local community.


That community came together ten years ago to raise a spectacular £8.9 million to bring that vision alive. The Jerwood DanceHouse, the first and only purpose-built dance facility in the East of England, opened its doors to the public with a weekend of celebratory events in October 2009.


Now the Jerwood DanceHouse is internationally recognised as a leading dance venue and continues to contribute to Ipswich’s growing reputation for cultural leadership, innovation and participation. In its first ten years it has received 550,000 artist, audience and participant visits, presented 246 productions including 101 new commissions and 39 premieres and its annual audience has tripled.


To mark the venue’s 10th anniversary year, DanceEast’s Artistic Director and Chief Executive Brendan Keaney has highlighted 10 celebratory events.  He says:

“DanceEast exists to provide extraordinary dance experiences for people of all ages, interests and abilities.  Over 15 years ago my predecessor Assis Carreiro imagined a dance house for Ipswich. She created a very special legacy with the Jerwood DanceHouse and I feel incredibly privileged to be leading this organisation as we reflect on some of our many achievements in this iconic building. Over the year we will be highlighting 10 events that represent the spectrum of work at Jerwood DanceHouse – but don’t forget that whenever you visit us in 2019 you will be in for a treat.


The celebratory events began on Friday 8 February with the world premiere of Epilogues, a new programme from James Cousins Company. James Cousins, winner of the inaugural New Adventures Choreographer Award Showcase in 2012 at the age of 21, was an Associate Artist at DanceEast from 2012 to 2014.


On Tuesday 26 February, Host celebrates the artistry of the older dancer. Dancers, practitioners, artists, teachers and researchers come together for a day to ask vital questions about what older performers can bring to the artform. A day of workshops is led by choreographers including DanceEast Associate Artist Joseph Toonga and discussions and debates with guest speakers including former Dance Umbrella Director Betsy Gregory. The day culminates in performances by EncoreEast, Damn Fine Dance Company, Counterpoint Dance Company, Mosaic Performance Group and Debbie Watkins Jones Dance Company.


On Friday 5 and Saturday 6 April is the world premiere of Silent Lines from Russell Maliphant Company, now in residence at Jerwood DanceHouse. This new piece draws upon Maliphant’s research and exploration into dance and experiential anatomy using a mix of movement, animated video projection and lighting to investigate a range of poetic possibilities.  Maliphant’s collaborators are video artist Panagiotis Tomara, lighting designer Michael Hulls and a group of exceptional performers.


On Saturday 20 April is the world premiere of a new work from the National Youth Dance Company with whom DanceEast has a long-standing relationship. Guest Artistic Director Botis Seva is working with 38 of some of England’s most talented young dancers. His signature style, a fusion of contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip-hop, combines with the dancers’ talent and youthful energy to produce an enthralling, energetic experience. This will be the first time the company has premiered a work outside London.


On Saturday 6 July is House to Home, a one-off event telling the story of the Jerwood DanceHouse and featuring over 100 dancers from the local community. Live dance performance and documentary-style film footage including interviews bring together the past, present and future of the DanceHouse.


On Saturday 14 September is 10 – The Gala, sponsored by Birketts. As a significant regional organisation, DanceEast is very proud to be working with Birketts who make a substantial difference to the local economy. Their support will enable DanceEast to present an exceptional evening, bringing world-class artists and dance companies together to perform at the Jerwood DanceHouse. The evening will include contributions from Royal Ballet, Scottish Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor as well as home grown talents from our Centre for Advanced Training programme.


Jonathan Agar, Chief Executive Officer for Birketts, says: “2019 promises to be a very special year of celebration for the arts here in Suffolk. In the last decade DanceEast has helped Ipswich to become recognised as a dynamic cultural hub and 10 – The Gala, will rightly celebrate that fantastic achievement. The Gala promises to be a unique evening bringing world-class artists and dance companies to the stage in Ipswich, that will draw in audiences from far and wide to celebrate dance here in Suffolk and we are delighted to be able to support it.”


James Cousins, whose new programme is the first of the celebratory events, says: “DanceEast has been hugely important to my development as an artist. It’s a supportive environment for making new work and enables me to be at my most creative. I love making work outside London and being in my own bubble.  Over the years DanceEast has helped me do this whilst also being fully invested in my ideas.”


Choreographer Didy Veldman says: “DanceEast has played a massive role in developing my career, the support I’ve received has encouraged me enormously. It’s all about creating the work that you love and are passionate about and receiving support for it – which is what DanceEast and Ipswich have given me. All my work for Umanoove has premiered at the Jerwood DanceHouse. It is intimate yet spacious and perfect for the work I enjoy creating – and I love Ipswich audiences.”

The final five celebratory events will be announced in May.