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Our Team

From our expert dance instructors and friendly front of house team to the industrious staff behind the scenes, meet our hard-working, enthusiastic and DanceEast-loving group.

Brendan Keaney

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND CEO

I arrived in Ipswich to join DanceEast in March 2013. I have always worked in dance and started, as a dancer, back in 1979 when there was virtually no dance dedicated infrastructure. Consequently, the Jerwood DanceHouse is a fantastic example of just how much has changed since then. It, therefore, feels like a particularly special privilege to be leading such a fantastic organisation and working in a building, that I could have only imagined, when I started my career.

Bill Armitage

HEAD OF OPERATIONS & RESOURCES

I joined DanceEast in 2011, having worked in a number of multi-arts venues for over 20 years. Having a passion for contemporary dance I was drawn from Scotland to Ipswich by the opportunity to work in this incredible building. In my role, no two days are the same, given the variety of work we do, both in and outside the DanceHouse.

Derek Gash

CARETAKER

My main interests are Genealogy, I have a large family tree and daily add more. Also, I aim to do some metal detecting soon. I love history and like to visit historical buildings and landmarks both here and abroad.

Adrian Theobald

CARETAKER

I was born, and have lived, in Ipswich all my life. I enjoy dancing salsa and ballroom socially, going on dance holidays, and have also performed in the past. Before joining DanceEast, my working life was spent in IT, more recently in software consultancy, support, training, and project management.

Greg Turbyne

TECHNICAL MANAGER

Having worked across a diverse range of contemporary performance and academic projects over the past thirty years, joining DanceEast in 2019 takes me, to some extent, full circle as my career in performance technology and lighting design started at Dundee Rep where I enjoyed my first design commissions with the resident dance company. My key interests are Performance Studies, democratisation of technology and design across all disciplines.

Conor Farthing

TECHNICIAN

After graduating from UCC Colchester with a degree in technical theatre studies I’ve fulfilled most technical roles in a theatre environment and have also freelanced around Essex and Suffolk as a Sound and Lighting Production Technician. I’ve worked in all styles of live events from music, live art, dance and corporate. I’m always keen to play with the most modern technologies and give the best quality technical production possible and DanceEast gives me that opportunity.

Helen Wright

FINANCE & ADMIN OFFICER

I joined DanceEast in October 2007 as a Front of House Assistant working primarily in the evening. I then combined this role with working as the finance assistant when I had a career change in 2009. I remember when the Jerwood Dance House was a building site and have had some memorable times working here. I am now the Finance & Admin Officer. I love watching dance and all theatre and try and see as many shows as possible.

Tanya Smith

SALES & ADMIN ASSISTANT  |  FINANCE ASSISTANT

I joined DanceEast in 2007 as a Front of House Assistant, so get to meet everyone whether attending a class, watching a performance, or performing. I also now work part time as Finance Assistant which gives a contrast to meeting people. I am delighted to be part of the wonderful team here at DanceEast!

Lucy Bayliss

HEAD OF CREATIVE PROGRAMMES

She/Her

I’ve worked in a number of roles with DanceEast – there’s always more to learn and more to give and no two days are the same, which I love. I feel lucky to work with such a brilliant team and in the beautiful Jerwood DanceHouse, which I remember being built. I try and use my time here to share these resources with artists, young people and communities in the hope that they will also find something rewarding about great dance.

Tom Bowes

CENTRE FOR ADVANCED TRAINING MANAGER

He/him

I studied at the University of Roehampton and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance (Transitions Dance Company). Relocated to Ipswich, I previously worked at Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, Fylde Coast Youth Dance Company in Blackpool and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London. I feel very privileged to manage the fantastic Centre for Advanced Training, I am delighted to be a part of the wonderful team here at DanceEast!

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Sophie O'Connor

PRODUCER, PARTICIPATION & ENGAGEMENT

She/Her

Dance was a huge part of my childhood. I studied Performing Arts and Psychology at Winchester University and over the last 10 years have worked in Arts Development for local government and managed a Community & Education programme for commercial theatres, but soon found myself drawn back into dance and combining all the things I love as a Producer here at DanceEast, developing programmes and projects that make a difference to our communities and spreading the joy of dance!

Chrissie Meikle

PRODUCER, PARTICIPATION AND ENGAGEMENT

Dance is and continues to be a huge part of my life. I joined DanceEast in May 2016 and have been in a few roles since – I am passionate about providing opportunities for all to experience great dance and the joy it brings, particularly through our community work. It’s an honour to manage our Participation and Engagement programmes and work in such a fantastic team.

Lucie Mirkova

ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE

She/Her

I’ve worked in dance and performance for over twenty years in many roles from Creative Practitioner to Arts Manager and Curator. I joined the team at DanceEast in 2023 after ten years at DanceXchange, Birmingham, where I led the Performance and Artist Development programme. I am passionate about connecting people with transformative performance experience both in theatre and public spaces, and supporting artists in their creative practice. I enjoy reading, yoga, long walks amongst nature and my newfound hobby of silversmithing!

Abi Marrison

DIGITAL PRIMARIES PROGRAMME MANAGER

She/Her

DanceEast is where, in 2016, I spent my first day out of the classroom and into the cultural sector (and I have always felt so welcome!). I worked for 10 years as a primary school teacher, mostly early years, and then joined one of Arts Council England’s 10 Bridge organisations; Festival Bridge. As Education Programme Manager, I often delivered Artsmark training to schools from the Jerwood DanceHouse. I joined the team part-time in March 2024 alongside my role as Schools Lead at Music Mark.

Zoe Ablitt

PROGRAMME COORDINATOR

She/Her

I studied Drama and Theatre at the University of Lincoln, where I discovered a love for community performance and Theatre in Education. After graduating in the pandemic, I’m excited to have returned to my hometown and joined the team at DanceEast. I particularly enjoy working on various participation and outreach projects with the rest of the creative team and bringing the joy of dance and performance to the local community.

Esther Alcock

PROGRAMME COORDINATOR

She/They

After studying Philosophy and History at the University of Sussex in Brighton, I moved back to my home of sunny Suffolk in 2019. Since then, I’ve also volunteered as the Lead Producer for Suffolk Pride and am passionate about seeing queer art and performance platformed in our region. Since joining the DanceEast team in summer 2021, I’ve been continually delighted to see brilliant dance created and showcased where I grew up.

Bryony Hope

HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS & DEVELOPMENT

As Head of Communications and Development I am responsible for inspiring people to support DanceEast, and for developing our audiences. I previously worked with museums, galleries and arts centres across Hampshire. While I have no background in dance, I believe it can be transformative for people of all ages and backgrounds. I am excited by the range of DanceEast’s work, from community projects to outstanding performances at the Jerwood DanceHouse. It is a privilege to work for this fantastic organisation.

Jemma Howard

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Dance has been part of my life since I was 8 years old, so I was excited when the opportunity to progress in my career became available at DanceEast. I am looking forward to using my skills to get the word out about the opportunities available at DanceEast for people in the East of England. As well as dancing, I enjoy hiking, reading and spending as much time outdoors as I can.

Jamie Simpson

DEVELOPMENT OFFICER

She/Her

I joined DanceEast in December 2022, moving from London to Ipswich for the role. I trained and gained my degree at London Contemporary Dance School and, since graduating, have worked at Trinity Laban on their undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, whilst teaching early-years ballet classes in South London. Dance has been a life-long love for me, and it is such a joy to work in a role where I get to communicate that passion to our supporters, funders, and community each day.

Amy Falla

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR

DanceEast has always had a place in my heart, from going to dance classes when I was a child, to getting involved most recently with the Hullabaloo22 youth takeover project. Consequently, I worked for Sadler’s Wells as a Campaign Marketing Apprentice in 2019. After working in London, I am keen to develop my career locally working in the arts, as I feel passionately about developing the creative arts scene here in Ipswich. I co-founded and run Young Artists in Suffolk, a youth arts platform with the aim to showcase and connect creatives in the local area. I am excited to be working at DanceEast within a likeminded team, passionate about making dance and the arts accessible to everyone!

Lizzie Hawes

SALES & VENUE MANAGER

I love dance! I love to experience dance, to teach, to facilitate and to encourage everyone to give it a try! Working as Venue and Sales Manager at the Box Office brings me so much joy as I love welcoming everyone to the DanceHouse, knowing that they will have the opportunity to experience dance for themselves. I also work in the community teaching dance/creative movement to young children and their families.

Joe Keeley

SALES & VENUE SUPERVISOR

He/Him

I joined DanceEast in 2021 after three years working as a session musician. I previously achieved a Level 3 Diploma in Digital Marketing and Social Media Management which gave me the skills to promote myself and my music enough that I could call it my full-time profession. Now taking up this new role at DanceEast, I work with lots of different and creative minded people whilst also playing and creating music in my spare time.

Claire Glover

SALES & ADMIN ASSISTANT

I have loved the theatre and have danced from a young age, so thoroughly enjoy working at DanceEast. It’s great to meet so many different people whether they are here to participate in a class, watch a performance, or perform.

Maisy Ritchie

SALES & ADMIN ASSISTANT

I started dancing from a young age and have danced all my life. My training in contemporary dance started here at DanceEast in Suffolk Juniors before studying dance at The University of Suffolk, graduating with a First Class Honours. I joined DanceEast in 2021 and really enjoy working on the Sales & Admin team as I get to meet a lot of different people who share an interest in creative industry. I am also a freelance dance artist and have worked on various projects across Suffolk and Essex.

Katie Byford

SALES & ADMIN ASSISTANT

She/Her

Growing up with a passion for dance, access to classes was unfortunately limited. In high school I began exploring my love for dance and established a working relationship with DanceEast.

Since graduating from the University of Lincoln with a Bachelor’s Honours and Master’s degree in dance, I have been touring Europe as part of the People Power Partnership (PPP) dance-theatre project. PPP aims to increase arts engagement in suburban areas across 11 European countries and promote cross-cultural collaboration.

I am now thrilled to reconnect with DanceEast and the local community to continue promoting accessibility and inclusivity in dance.

Jo Salcombe

SALES & ADMIN ASSISTANT

He/Him

I joined DanceEast in 2023. I’m local to Ipswich and have worked in a variety of jobs ranging from car sales to bar management. I have had the pleasure of being part of several dance shows thanks to my partner, Rosy, which has been great fun and has given me an insight into the world of a professional dance artist.

I am also a self-employed Social Media Manager, working with some amazing companies and brands to help develop & maintain their online presence. Alongside this, I’m a Content Creator, focussing on livestreaming and video creation. I really enjoy the creative freedom that comes with this, crafting video content from its initial inception all the way through to editing and marketing.​