Our artistic policy is part of our vision:
In the Dance North vision statement, we talk about ‘creating space for transformational contemporary dance’, and ‘engaging with people from across the globe to just down the road’ – this vision also forms the basis of our artistic philosophy.
When looking for work with a transformational quality, we like to allow for possibility and ambition. We may look for work that will change someone’s perceptions or perspective on life, or redefine their concept of what ‘dance’ is. Equally, we might seek out work that changes something in the artist through their performance of it.
When talking about contemporary dance, we mean dance that is of the now and has some quality of the present, and sometimes even a glimpse of the future. We’re not referring to any narrow definition of dance – all traditions, all perspectives, all practices are of interest to us.
We are excited by work with edges, work that jostles with something, work that feels as though it is stretching for something, perhaps out of reach. We are attracted to work that grapples with global challenges and considers social, political, environmental, technological or cultural issues through creation.
When we talk about edges, we don’t mean that work must be ‘edgy’. We’ve been known to programme performances that had a more conventional approach to their content, but where the format of presentation was something more unexpected. As much as anything, we’re drawn to artists who are unafraid, who experiment, or who find new meaning in longstanding practice.
The last part of our vision statement is also worth highlighting for its relevance to our artistic approach: ‘around the globe to just down the road’. Dance North is an organisation firmly rooted in its local community and a significant part of our work is building connections with artists local to Moray and artists based in Scotland. However, we have always operated from the belief that contact with artists from across the world is vital to the growth of any artistic sector, so we will always advocate for bringing exciting work from other places and other cultures to Scotland, and programming international performers alongside brilliant artists from our own communities.
Our ideas are constantly evolving, and we do not profess to have all the answers. As such, this is a live policy, and this document is constantly changing and being updated.
How we work with artists:
The artistic approach of the organisation is led by our creative director, with input from members of the Dance North team, and a number of independent artists, and is informed by our location and regional context. Our artistic policy is underpinned by our values and Equality, Inclusion & Diversity (EDI) action plan, and we are careful to ensure decisions about who we work with align with these principles.
We are aware that there is a history of exclusion in the field of contemporary dance, often perpetuated by formal progression routes within the sector, generating biases that tend to favour the familiar and the comfortable. As a result, the sector is not sufficiently representative of the diversity of modern Scotland. We are committed to ensuring that the work we present is supportive, inclusive and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. We work to foster a culture of mutual respect, ensuring that we represent and benefit the diverse range of people who make up the communities we serve. We welcome conversations with artists engaged in dance and movement practice, and we are keen to programme work made by and representative of Black People and People of Colour, disabled people, neurodiverse people, LGBTQ+ creators and communities, without emphasis on any school of movement or style of qualification.
Routes to engaging with Dance North:
There are two key strands of work to our artistic programme: our performance strand and our professional development strand. With the former, we are seeking complete, finished pieces of work ready for presentation to an audience. With the latter, we are able to offer developmental support to a number of artists.
We look to programme work throughout the year, although primarily for our RISE dance festival. We often also schedule one or two larger-scale one-off events each year, frequently situated in non-theatre settings.
Arts in Moray (AIM):
A major component of our current professional development work is the Arts in Moray (AIM) initiative, a Culture Collective project, funded by Scottish Government through Creative Scotland. Alongside partner organisations, Wildbird, The Moray Way Association (MWA) and Moray Arts Development Engagement (M:ADE), we support artists in long-term residencies designed to enhance their practice while engaging with communities across Moray. AIM is currently in its second phase but we hope to continue the undertaking, subject to further funding, and there will be an open call for artists to apply should that funding be secured.
While we do host some shorter residencies, these tend to be offered in response to specific artist requests for bespoke support packages, rather than as any kind of ongoing, open call residency programme. Generally, these bespoke residencies come about because of a particular relevance of place, community and environment to the work being developed. Our professional development strand is Regional Artist Support (RAS), which is a flexible scheme offering both practical and financial support to members of the Regional Artist Network (RAN).
Regional Artist Support and the Regional Artist Network:
The RAS programme supports individuals engaged in contemporary dance practice, who have an existing relationship with Moray, the Highlands, the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney, through the provision of networking opportunities, mentoring, training and the sharing of resources. More information about and how to join our Regional Artist Support Programme can be found here.
To sign up to be part of the network and to sign up for the support and for the newsletter, please fill out this form. You can also join the Regional Artist Network group page on Facebook, where less formal opportunities and updates are often shared. The Network enables individuals to develop regional contacts and feel connected with each other and with Dance North.
We are always interested to hear from new artists whose values align with our own, though it is important to note that we currently do not commission new work. Please look at our website to gain a flavour of the work we present and deliver. If you are interested in working with Dance North and believe your work is a fit with our priorities outlined above and below, we invite you to submit a short expression of interest including examples of, and information about, your work. While we may not be able to attend every opportunity, we will always endeavour to send a team member or Dance North associate where possible. We are committed to viewing all work prior to programming, the team try to visit a wide variety of artists, promoters and producers annually, staying abreast of sector developments.
Engaging with Dance North Scotland as an artist:
- Visit dancenorth.scot/make and look at previous projects that have been undertaken with Dance North’s support, to gain a sense of the organisation’s creative orientation.
- If you are based in or work in the North of Scotland, and feel it would be relevant, please sign up to the Regional Artist Network here
- Whether local to Dance North or not, if you are interested in being programmed, please use this form to submit a short expression of interest including information about your work and examples wherever possible. Video links are important but when we are asked to consider presenting a performance work, we need to see it in person before we will programme it, so please provide information on upcoming performance dates (or work-in-progress sharings).
- The submission form is a useful tool for our management of applications but is not intended to remove the personal level of contact from artist discussions. Your submission will receive a response and there will then be an opportunity to discuss further, if appropriate.