2018 - a year in review

2018 has been a very productive year for Stopgap Dance Company despite the setback of our touring van being stolen mid tour at the start of the year and our office being burgled at the end of the year… Our team called on their grit and determination to get 2018 over the finish line!

The cast and crew of The Enormous Room standing in front of the set

The Enormous Room - Successful tour to major venues

This year, Stopgap continued to tour The Enormous Room to major venues nationally and internationally. Highlights include:

  • Holland Dance Festival
  • Steps Dance Festival in Switzerland
  • Brighton Festival as part of Caravan Showcase
  • Festival de Otoño in Madrid
  • Chichester Festival Theatre as part of Winter Season

2018 is the year we keenly felt that major European venues are starting to eagerly showcase inclusive works, and The Enormous Room will hopefully open more avenues for inclusive dance in East Asia next year – it will be touring Japan in March 2019 through Setagaya Public Theatre. The last ever tour of the production is expected in Autumn 2019 before we disband the whole show.

Large-scale outdoor production The Seafarers gets 4-star review

We have been proactive on the outdoor arts scene too, notably by restaging the large-scale outdoor show The Seafarers in Great Yarmouth for Norfolk & Norwich Festival. The project took 2-years in the making, as we trained 6 local dance practitioners and oversaw them preparing an inclusive cast of 60 local people. We have already left a tangible legacy there, and we’re delighted to get a 4-star review by The Guardian to top it off!

Our firm commitment to the outdoor arts scene will continue in 2019 with a new outdoor show Frock, which is scheduled to tour nationally and internationally in the summer.

Our live performances reached nearly 9,000 people this year.

Artificial Things - the film selected for prestigious festivals

We also premiered our dance film of Artificial Things at Sheffield DocFest, and it was chosen for screening at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. The film is a condensed version of our previous touring production of the same name, and it was directed by the filmmaker Sophie Fiennes. The London screening is planned to take place in Spring 2019 in Walthamstow, and more information will follow very soon.

Further consolidation of our inclusive pathway to profession - Sg2 Apprenticeship and inclusive syllabus

We have been extremely busy on our education and training front too.

Our core funding increase from Arts Council England in April 2018 meant that we could reinstate our Sg2 Apprentice programme. We auditioned and chose three disabled dancers in spring and our programme began in September. Students of Postgraduate Apprentice Scheme from Northern School of Contemporary Dance will join our disabled apprentices in September 2019 to become a fully-fledged inclusive apprentice programme. Sg2 will then look to create and tour a pop-up show for families in 2020, which can be presented in SEND schools, small-scale theatres and rural venues.

Amongst all the touring work, we always remain firmly committed to grassroots development, and we showed this through the launch of our inclusive dance syllabus IRIS. This took place in November at University of Bedfordshire. We had been piloting this syllabus on the 6 youth dance groups we have in the southeast, and we are now actively looking for partners to make the syllabus and its teacher-training programme widely available in the industry, so watch this space!

All in all, our education and training programme reached over 3,000 people this year, and we are delighted to have taken a significant step forward in making the talent pipeline for dance more inclusive.

Continuing to present our artistic work in flagship venues and consolidating an inclusive pathway within our organisational framework will hopefully show audiences and sector colleagues alike that inclusion, excellence and rigour can all go hand in hand 

... and we look forward to building on our success in 2019 and beyond.

Happy New Year!

Stopgap Dance Company

PS. Laura Jones, our Co-Artistic Director (Maternity Cover) and Head of Talent Development, will be on a panel of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row on 27th December to do the review of 2018 for Dance. Tune in at 7.15pm or catch up on BBC Sound.

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