Flavour Infusions - Akeim Buck [Anna Reviews]

Dear dancers,

It has happened! It’s officially official and here to stay. You’d better play some imaginary drum rolls in your heads, because you won’t want to receive this great news in silence. Ready?? A whole new season of high standard professional dance classes opened up yesterday! Yes, ProDance Leeds is back!!
To celebrate such awaited return and to kick off the autumn term nobody would be better than the local Akeim Buck, a dance artist raised in Chapeltown where he also trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.

Starting in a circle, Akeim leads a warm up interlacing wavy patterns with yoga moves and breathing, aiming towards a total body work out while sharpening our focus. When the tension of the yoga postures meets the undulation of the ripples our bodies begin to mobilize and soften. At this point of the session I can’t avoid but noticing the grooving sound playing in the room. Every so often Akeim runs to the stereo corner, grabs a mike and spits out some improvised beats which get layered onto the already existing ones. That corner job keeps ongoing during the class as he adapts the music to fit the demands of the exercises.

Then we cross the studio space with material that covers different levels, starting in the floor to end up standing. Contemporary dance patterns like animal crawling, rolls or balances precede; then Akeim’s Caribbean roots take over. The West Indian vibes challenge rhythm, mobility and gracefulness. At the end of the session, Akeim teaches a couple of phrases fusing contemporary and Caribbean dance with subtle traces of ballet and capoeira here and there. Oh! And all of these at the sound of live beat boxing.
Without a doubt Akeim delivers a spicy yet sweet infusion of flavours overthrowing convention and challenging the movers.

                            By Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch

-You can still catch his class Wednesday and Thursday at NSCD from 9.00 to 10.30-

ProDanceLeeds awarded Arts Council Funding

We are delighted to announce that we have finally been successful in securing funding from Arts Council England for another period of ProDanceLeeds! Thanks to all our partners for believing in us and to all of you wonderful dancers out there for your patience and continued support.

We are currently out and about on different work and holiday adventures but will be back in the (imaginary) office in August to pick things up and get the ball rolling. Please bear with us in the meantime.

We are very excited to get going soon and to see you all in September! More details to come soon, so watch this space!

Much love from the ProDance team:
Kate, Rachel, Rebecca and Sofia

We've submitted!

Hello Dancers of Leeds,

Big news - we submitted another Arts Council Bid! So fingers crossed, there could be classes running again starting late summer/early autumn.

We know it’s been over a year now without ProDance classes, so we thought we’d give you a brief update on what has happened. After getting the news that our bid was unsuccessful in August last year, we had quite a busy Gracefool autumn which left little time for bid writing and visioning future plans. With the new year came new energy (and more time on our hands!) and we had some time to ponder what the best way forward was. In the end we decided to re-submit the bid with some changes to the budget as the feedback from the Arts Council was that the project was just plainly too expensive. We are hoping that this bid will be more successful than the last one and if  it is, classes will start late summer/early autumn. Wish us luck and cross your dancer toes and fingers! In the meantime, Open Source Arts are running classes on a Thursday morning, taught by teachers in our local community - go check it out!

Much love from the ProDance team

Meeting Notes

On the 14th of September we held a meeting hosted by Yorkshire Dance to update the community on what had happened with our funding application and to open a discussion on what possibilities there are in terms of professional development whilst ProDanceLeeds is not running classes. For anyone who is interested in the discussion but who couldn't personally attend we are making the notes from the meeting available here on the website. We are also including a summary report of ProDanceLeeds' last development phase that was evaluated by Sarah Spanton. This is a condensed 5 page report, drawn from a much more extensive evaluation that she conducted for us. Any questions - give us a shout. We will continue to update you on how we decide to take the project forward so watch this space.

Notes from meeting on 14th September

Summary Report



We have some unfortunate news

It is with sad hearts that we have to tell you that our latest funding application to support ProDanceLeeds was unsuccessful.

As we have been in Edinburgh with our sister company Gracefool Collective for all of August, we have not yet had time to evaluate what the best path forward is. In the coming few weeks we will evaluate the situation and decide how to take it from here. We will of course keep you updated on progression and news.

We know that many of you have been anxious to hear about updates for the project and we are only sorry that at the moment we don't have better news for you - we're gutted to not get to take class with you in the coming few weeks. In the meantime, we'd like to thank you all for your patience and continued support of ProDanceLeeds.

Kate, Rachel, Rebecca and Sofia

What is happening with ProDance?

Hello ProDancers,

I can hear you all screaming: what has happened to ProDance!?!?! We’re sorry that being really busy has meant that we have not quite managed to keep you in the loop, and that’s why we’re now doing an update galore to make sure you know what’s going on with your favourite artist led project in the region.

Since December, we’ve been working long and hard to create a G4A that will hopefully (fingers crossed!) provide us with funding to cover the running of our regular ProDance programme for another 18 months, starting early September 2017. Because the bid is much bigger than anything we have ever applied for previously, several challenges has risen in the process of writing it that we originally weren’t aware of, meaning it has taken us longer than expected to get it in. We will submit it within the next few weeks but because the bid is for over 15K we will have to wait 12 weeks to find out whether we have been successful or not. As soon as we hear, we will of course let you know.

The question many will be asking is understandably: what is happening with ProDanceLeeds in the meantime? Will there be more classes? The answer is unfortunately no, and we want to explain to you in a little bit more detail why that is.

Between January and March, we were kindly supported by  Northern Ballet, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Phoenix Dance Theatre, RJC Dance and Yorkshire Dance to run classes on a scaled down programme. We were hoping to submit an application by the end of January, which would mean that if we were successful, we could start the classes early May. The support that these organisations generously offered was a swift response to us asking them to support us in a set interim period, so that ProDance wouldn’t have to stagnate. This was from the very beginning an agreement to help us out for a set period of time and to ‘take us in from the cold’ while we were securing a future for the programme. We are extremely grateful for that support, and for the speed with which they all sprung to action.

There are several reasons to why the bid didn’t go in at the end of January, as we originally hoped. In October, we still thought that ProDance would be covered by Yorkshire Dance’s NPO. We had set a plan in motion for this, to get the GFA in in December and lined up a busy autumn and Spring for our sister company Gracefool Collective. When the NPO plan fell through, we had to rethink our whole strategic plan of where ProDance was going. The G4A we had planned to cover the interim period until the NPO funding was gonna kick in was now obsolete and we had to come up with a completely new project. As you may know, you can’t apply for funding to run a project you have already run once, so we had to think very strategically about how we could keep what’s so great about ProDance, whilst developing the programme to do something new. That has taken time, and as we are asking for such a big pot of money this time we felt it imperative that the application was given the time it needed to be properly constructed, planned and written.

Unknowing that we would have to write a £98,000 bid, we’d planned for Spring in Gracefool land:

  • Touring to six venues with Red Ladder Theatre Company

  • Working on the endless administration of said tour

  • Starting an R&D for a new piece of work with four week long residencies across the country

  • Rehearsing & performing the new work as part of Reveal Festival

  • Researching and meeting with rural touring schemes and programmers across the country

  • Planning two major projects (that we will announce in the coming few months!)

  • And of course, evaluating the previous ProDance project and writing that all important report for ACE.

And this doesn’t include all the day to day admin of the company: liaising with people, social media, writing newsletters, organising outreach, delivering outreach, writing applications, researching new opportunities, meeting with industry people, going to networking events, having bi-weekly meetings, maintaining the website, keeping track of cash flow and receipts ETC...

It also doesn’t include all the work we do as freelancing individuals to make ends meet and pay our bills.

You get the picture.

And I am sure that many of you can relate to this.

When Gracefool gets very busy, it would be great to be able to outsource some of the ProDance work to ensure both projects keep running smoothly. Unfortunately, there is very little money in running PDL, and although we keep working for free because this is our baby and a project we believe in, we don’t particularly like asking anyone else to work for us for free.

We are so excited about the work we are doing with Gracefool and ProDanceLeeds, and there is four of us in the company to share the load, but there is a limit to what we can do and we are having to be honest with ourselves about the limit of our capacity. We are a very positive bunch which is great at most times, but sometimes it means we are overly optimistic about how much we can achieve in a set amount of time.

We all had a very busy 2016 and the warning bells for burning out have been chiming pretty loudly for a while now. So we took a conscious decision of trying not to burn out i.e. actually trying to give ourselves weekends and evenings off. Being able to maintain relationships with friends and family. Talking about something else other than work on our lunch break. We are doing this because we want to be able to stay in this industry for a long time, without having a collective breakdown too early. And so the application has taken several months longer to complete than we thought it would.

We hope that you are as excited as we are that we will finally be submitting it (very soon!) and that you keep all fingers and toes crossed for it to be successful. And that when classes do start again, you’ll be banging on the door to come in to class and support the continuation of a flourishing freelance, professional, dance community. We are really grateful for your support and patience in the meantime - ProDanceLeeds wouldn’t exist without you guys!

Kate, Rebecca, Rachel and Sofia


ProDanceLeeds supported over the coming few months

Hello all you ProDanceLeeds dancers!

Finally, we can bring you some detailed news about the coming months.

Before Christmas, we explained where we were with our current funding situation and that our plans for ProDanceLeeds had faced some challenges.

We sent an email to the other fantastic organisations in Leeds delivering dance in the city, asking for help. All of our partners, RJC Dance, Dance Studio Leeds, Yorkshire Dance, NSCD, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Northern Ballet have been incredibly supportive and some have been able to offer some aid in bridging the gap between now and the time before another funding application can be written, assessed and (fingers crossed) granted.

So what will be happening behind the scenes to bring you these classes? Well, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Dance, NSCD and Northern Ballet have generously agreed to help us keep running the classes on a reduced schedule across the next few months.

Phoenix already run a company class, when they are at base,  that is open to freelancers.  Over the next few months Phoenix and ProDanceLeeds will work in partnership to amalgamate their existing offers. Phoenix have offered to cover costs for some of the artists that ProDance had already scheduled to teach these classes.   The classes have limited numbers and need to be booked in advance. Please contact tracy.tinker@phoenixdancetheatre.co.uk to check availability and book your place. Please note that confirmation is on a first come first served basis.

When we are unable to take class with Phoenix, Yorkshire Dance will be covering the costs for some of their artists in residence to teach class. These classes you do not need to book for and are paid for on the day.

Furthermore NSCD and Northern Ballet have generously agreed a small cash contribution to help us cover a little bit of our admin costs.

We are incredibly grateful for these are generous donations which are not easy for these organisations to give.  We know we keep saying it, but in the current climate, everyone is stretched, trying to do all they can to run the projects that their organisation focuses on. Their support shows how much that they value PDL and our community, making us hopeful for the future of dance of the city.

Kate, Rachel, Rebecca and Sofia

The classes continue in 2017

ProDanceLeeds are happy to announce that between January and March 2017 we will be working in partnership with Phoenix Dance Theatre, Yorkshire Dance, Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Northern Ballet to support a scaled down programme of professional classes.

These will be provided in the interim period between us writing and submitting an Arts Council application, that will aim to extend the ProDanceLeeds programme for another set period of time. We are very grateful for these organisations time and work to ensure that support is provided for our important community.

We will give you further details about the interim classes and the future of ProDanceLeeds in the next week. In the meantime rest assured that there will be fantastic teachers to come back in the coming few months!

Kate, Rachel, Rebecca and Sofia

About the future of ProDanceLeeds

Over the past two years ProDanceLeeds has established itself as an artist led organisation, vital to the growth of the independent dance community in Leeds. We inspire and enable artists to sustain a professional career by inviting local, national and international teachers to come and lead morning class five times a week. Many of you that come to the classes have expressed a concern as to whether the classes will continue in the New Year and we haven’t been able to give you an answer. We still aren’t able to answer that question as the sad reality is that we don’t know. We want to share with you what is happening behind the scenes and let you know about some of the issues that ProDanceLeeds is currently facing.

The bottom line is - of course - money. The programme is heavily subsidised and absolutely relies on funding as it is important for us to be able to pay the artists we employ a fair rate (because we know this is a massive problem in our industry), at the same time as keeping the classes affordable for freelancers on a precarious, very low income. The majority of the work we have been doing this year has been to develop a strong model so that we can provide the kind of classes that our community want and needs. Part of this is to figure out how ProDanceLeeds can run in the long term. The problem we are facing at the moment is that although we have received two lots of funding through the Arts Council, they do not fund projects to run long-term through Grants for the Arts. There is one other funding stream we could access through the Arts Council - National Portfolio Organisation -  but we do not have the legal structure, experience, capacity or wish to apply to become an NPO at this stage. For a long time we were in negotiations with Yorkshire Dance to become part of their NPO. That would allow us to still run the project as an independent organisation, but have the stability of regular funding for four years. Yorkshire Dance would have had to apply for an uplift (extra money than they asked for last time they applied) to fund us, which due to ACE advice, a limited pot of money for NPOs, a difficult application process and the ability for Yorkshire Dance to only apply for one project as part of that uplift meant that they chose to fund another project, that better suited their aims. So unfortunately these plans fell through very recently.

With only a few weeks left of the programme, this has left us with almost no time to come up with an alternative plan. We are looking at submitting another G4A at the end of January to support the running of the classes for another 18 months, which would buy us some time to yet again come up with a plan for how we can make the classes the steady provision that we believe this city needs. This means we won’t hear whether we have been successful until April 2017, at the earliest, which in turn means no class in January, February, March or April. We would like to run a scaled down version of the programme with three classes a week and  local teachers - but this will still cost around 4K. This is why we have asked four dance organisations in the region to help and support us with cash, so that we are able to continue the classes in Spring, without losing the momentum that we have built during the past two years. We are currently waiting to hear whether they will be able to support us.

Since its inception, ProDanceLeeds has employed 67 teachers to teach 324 classes to 2402 participants. The number of people in class are steadily growing: in the last month we have had an average of 10 people every class - we are helping to build a community. The classes have gained a reputation nationwide and internationally with teachers contacting us from all around the UK as well as abroad to come to Leeds and share their practice. It has been an incredibly successful project, and we have learnt a lot.

Unfortunately the sad truth is that the current funding situation in the UK, and the current government cuts to this, means that everyone is stretched to their limits. We are really proud of the work we have done over the past two years and really happy to be part of such a supportive community as this one. However, at the moment it is looking like the future of ProDanceLeeds is quite uncertain. We believe in this project and we believe that the ways in which the dance community has grown and developed in the last few years has made a massive difference. We want to thank everyone who has been to our classes, supported us, advocated for us and shouted about us… and let you know that we’re not giving up yet. If we’re going down we’re going down FIGHTING!

Kate, Rachel, Rebecca and Sofia

Toby Fitzgibbons [Anna reviews]

Christmas is round the corner and within it the end of the year. It is time to ponder over outcomes and to revisit tradition. Toby Fitzgibbons, the last guest teacher visiting ProDance before the Christmas break, appears to be the priest that reminds us the good values of the old practises. However, he does it in a progressive way that manages to take all the assistants enthusiastically on board.

Like the most eloquent of the pastors, Toby's engagement drags the audience into his speech, into his body language. By revisiting techniques like Ballet and Cunningham with a modern approach, his material gathers the essence of these old school practises in a very functional way. Bringing the focus back to the basis, his class works on the connection between core and limbs, using the spine as the central line to create curves and straight shapes. The class follows a classic structure, working from static exercises to more dynamic patterns, building the tension up into a very consistent lesson.

Going back is always an opportunity to correct, refine and redefine, and it undoubtedly provides a stable base for stepping further and beyond. By revisiting the road that we have left behind we ensure the trajectory of future paths; paths that are hidden in front of us, waiting to be discovered.

Do not hesitate and come to church. Taking a look back into the future might be revealing, specially around Christmas time!

Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch

Natalia Iwaniec: The Gaga fairy visits Leeds before Christmas [Anna reviews]

Natalia Iwaniec is like a fairy! She is beautiful, golden headed and sweet voiced, just like a fairy; also, if fairies would teach, they would probably pick up on her way. Following the rules of the Gaga language, the mirrors in the room are covered, there are no questions to be asked 'during' the session, and the class flows as one big ensemble of dancers moving constantly. There are no pauses in a Gaga class, not even for a sip of water.

The session's purpose is to intensify the body's involvement on the go through an improvisation that Natalia guides in detail. Like using a meditation tape, her voice talks to us offering textures, images, advices... to helps us in the attempt of going through the forest of 'Gagaland'. Other than that, the possibilities of the material are in our hands, and legs, and feet, but mainly in the pelvis and the chest. She emphasises that the movement of the lower limbs is originated in the pelvis, whereas the movement of the arms is born in the chest. From there, each participant decides how far to take the challenge.

Although the class was really well attended this kind of practise feels like a journey taken alone. Being aware of others is encouraged, but the focus needs to keep coming back to oneself in order to self manage the introspective road of learning. Natalia's teaching is a brilliant opportunity for those that want to challenge their expectations of themselves and push their boundaries far and beyond!

Anna Cabré-Verdiell

Anthony Lo-Giudice: Geometry in movement, geometry everywhere... [Anna Reviews]

Architects, engineers and mathematicians, who are kind of musicians, or musicians who are actually mathematicians, biologists and neurologists, as well as gardeners and of course painters, sculptors, lighting designers… all of them see geometric patterns behind the scenes of their jobs. From the laws of nature to the human brain, our world is built of complex geometric systems that ravel an infinite of possibilities. It looks like the puzzle is to unravel them.

On a bloody cold and rainy morning, a few dancers occupy the studio ready to play with geometry in movement. Anthony Lo-Giudice, this week's guest teacher for ProDance, tangles two different patterns to create a third one, a mix between straight lines and spiral constructions. The core of his material is clearly balletic. However, he intertwines the endless possibilities of spiralling within it, twigging the traditionally straightness of ballet with the diagonal loops of spirals.

The lesson starts with a quick 'warm up'. Plies, tendus… a couple of exercises to bring back certain techniques to the body. Then, straight into choreography for the rest of the session. Anthony's class focuses on repertoire and gives time for the dancers to refine their practise and, maybe, to discover some geometry under their skin.

Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch


B-boying in a Tibetan temple [Anna reviews]

As I was taking my shoes off outside the new white studio at Dance Studio Leeds, a smiley guy says 'good morning' while walking in. I recognise him from the picture in the ProDance website, is the guest teacher of the week, Lewis Wilkins. While taking my coat off I can hear lively murmuring of voices inside and, as soon as I step in, I realise that the studio looks like Piccadilly Circus.

The hustle and bustle from the large number of attendants today, gets rapidly quiet when the lesson begins. The smiley guy that I have met just a few minutes ago, becomes the master. The luminous room offers the perfect scenario to start the lesson, which commences with silent Thai chi sequences. The simplicity of the structure let us follow Lewis´ guidance and, without realising, our bodies are warm and our concentration is highly focused.

We move then to the floor, where main part of the class happens. Lewis´ delicateness is present both in his movements and his words. His movement requires deep core and arm strength, but the subtlety of his delivery is exquisite, kind of meditative. He says the strictly necessary; no more, no less. Like a monk that shows you the main laws of transcendence but allows you to reach wisdom by yourself.

The class moves in a quick pace. The exercises flow from one to another and suddenly we are all sweaty and the lesson is about to finish. The palpable focus in the room could keep the group going for hours, but it's time to get back to the earth. Still four more days to learn from Monk Wilkins, definitely a wise mover!

Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch

Rachel Explains Things: Timing

We all agree it’s pretty hard to get up early in the morning, especially when you are working in a bar until late or teaching the evening before. Or, perhaps you live a bit outside the city, have to drop off children, or regularly get stuck in bloody traffic. Whatever the reason, we understand it can be difficult to get to class when you want to.  That’s why in the November of this year, we will experiment with scheduling classes later.  

Our lie in month in November, will see our classes starting later at 10am, which you can see in our classes section

The decision to hold our classes early in the morning has been due to a number of reasons. When we began class, a number of other professional classes started at this time.  Other factors have been that our partner’s spaces are often very full and this dictates when we have been able to use their studios.  

The main reason we haven’t been able to test this earlier is that we have tried to link up with people in residence in Leeds.  This way the money we pay them to teach goes into their Grants for the Arts and they gain support from us, helping their application.  We love being able to do this for the community.  However, an earlier start time means that they can teach class and it won’t encroach on their residency time. Starting later would mean that our classes finish at 11.30am for example. If everyone leaves the studio by 12pm, then they may take lunch for an hour and their own rehearsal time would start at 1pm. In many of the studio spaces, 5pm is when building closes or private hire for non-professional classes starts, meaning they would be left with only four hours of residency time.

A solution would be to have the classes for artists who aren’t in residence starting later where possible. However, we are aware that as we don’t have our own premises and are always switching spaces, the changing information can be quite confusing. Therefore we have tried where possible to keep our start time the same. Although it may be that you feel this isn’t so much of a problem; if so let us know!

So you can see it’s been a humdinger for us for a while and we aren’t too sure what the answer is. So we will see how the trial goes and as always if you have any suggestions, get in touch!


Hi old friend! So nice to see you again! [Anna reviews]

Ian Garside enters the studio as an old friend would enter your house, and not just because he is already a veteran visitor of ProDance Leeds. Ian has the virtue of getting people quickly on board, due to his open and straight forward personality. If he wasn't golden blond, one would think that his character is Latin rooted. He is more than a funny lad though. In his lessons he creates a playground, a space for the assistants to 'play' and get dirty. As children in the park, Garside's intention is to distance the dancers from their own judgement which usually holds them back. Loosing consciousness of the self allows the mind and the body to play for real.

The class begins with a throw-catch game, which opens up the body-mind synchrony at the same time that brings the focus of the group together. The game speeds up gradually until it has everybodywarm and ready for the next step. Then we move to the side of the room to start crossing the space through exercises that will take us from the floor to up standing. Ian's floor work stays simple but very precise. He is thorough in his practice and so he wants the dancers to be, we work on refining details. Once standing, the playfulness continues with a jumpy phrase that later on gets linked with the previous floor material.

Ian encourages the assistants to increase or decrease the complexity of the exercises depending on personal and professional necessities. The class is a brilliant opportunity to keep daily practice up through the 'easiness' of a child's mind. Definitely a great way of starting the day in a sweaty and smiley way.

Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch

Get a Friends Card

Hello people!

So I thought I would just give you all a little nudge about a fabulous thing that we have going here at ProDanceLeeds, namely: our Friends Card. I feel like maybe we don’t talk enough about them, so seen as I’m running the blog here, I thought I’d create the opportunity to let you know just how amazing they are.

To get a Friends Card you pay £30 up front and it entitles you to a total of 10 classes. All of you math genii will quickly realise that you save £10 in comparison to paying full price for 10 classes. But that’s not all! Your Friends Card opens up a whole lot more doors:

  • Discounted morning and lunch classes at Yoga Hero

  • 10% discount on studio hire at the Dance Studio Leeds

  • Concession price on selected performances at Riley Theatre and Yorkshire Dance.

Pretty good, right!? You can read more about it here.

The Friends Card lasts three months, or until the end of this project, which finishes on the 16th of December. Although we hope that these classes will continue in January, your Friends Cards will expire in December (this is because of budget reasons, but I won’t bore you with the details). So make sure you use your classes before then!

Ok, a last incentive to buy that card: we printed a whole lot of tote bags earlier this year for mysterious reasons. We still have 8 left. Anyone buying a Friends Card next week will get a free tote bag. Wohoo! Rumour has it that Phil Sanger, who won not one but TWO at the Leeds Culture Gathering, frequently is seen sporting this fabulous accessory at a culture event close to you. Get that tote bag now! First come, first served - terms and conditions apply.


Rachel explains things: Programming

Us five ProDanceLeedsers are constantly having four hour meetings on the minutiae of the programme of classes and how they are run. We wanted to tell you about some of the discussions we have been having recently, so you can see how we are making decisions.  ProDanceLeeds doesn’t exist without you. So please tell us if you have any suggestions, comments or criticisms and we will try to address them as best we can.

How do you programme the classes? Could we have more classes which give rigorous technique?

When we began the programme, we aimed to provide a varied range of styles from week to week, to cater for the diverse community we have in Leeds and the different types of work they do.  We therefore programmed a mix of physical and technical classes, improvisation techniques, classes that provide power and fitness and release based classes e.t.c.

So far, our teachers have brought their own practice, gained from working within the current sector.  The fantastic array of artists, each providing very different techniques, whether improv or Graham, have fed into the community’s artistic practice. However we have grappled with some quandaries that have affected the programming schedule.

For example, booking teachers has depended entirely on who is available when and with many artists working all over the world, with jobs that can be for months or days, it’s been hard to schedule them where it makes logical sense in our programme.  We now make it a priority to consider the programme as a coherent whole and ensure we don’t have too many classes of a similar style in a row.

Furthermore, we often programme through recommendation, but we are also approached by teachers who we have not experienced before. We are working on ways to gain clear information from teachers about what they offer, so that we can communicate more clearly what their classes entail.  That way you can make informed choices about when you come to class.  For those we haven’t met yet, we offer them a two day or three day run of classes, so we can see whether the community enjoyed them and decide whether we will try to invite them back to teach for a longer period. It’s always the best when you suggest people you like, as experiencing their class is often the most helpful way to describe it. We invite back the ones you want more of!

And finally, we are aware that some of you have requested more rigorous technique (i.e. sweaty/physical/technical exercises). We make a note of those teachers we feel fits this brief and will in future programme more classes with this in mind, whilst maintaining a varied programme.

Alternatively, Phoenix Dance Theatre also sometimes open their classes for a limited number of people, at particular times.  You have to send a C.V. to them in advance. These classes are £4.  If there is a week where you feel that you are in need of a different class, then this is another option.

Can we have Ballet classes?

The reason we did not include a regular ballet class in the pilot was because of clarity in the idea for the project, or in other words we needed to keep the classes specific to contemporary so we could make a clear case to get funding. We have made a conscious effort to bring you ballet in this development phase. Booking these teachers can be difficult due to their schedules, but we plan to programme challenging, strengthening, ballet classes for contemporary dancers more often in future.

Can we have Yoga classes?

Again, we haven’t asked for funding to provide yoga classes because there are many yoga classes available in the city already and we were unable to make a strong case for it being something that we provide.  However, we know that this can be very expensive for freelancers.  Aside from a one off, Yoga for Dancers two days, we can’t take this under our remit at the moment, BUT we have found a way to make it easier for you to access! See YogaHero friends....

Can we have two classes a day?

We love the idea of two classes a day. But this one unfortunately is dictated by funding.  To ensure regular provision of classes over a longer period of time, we made a choice to provide one class a day over a year, instead of two classes a day over six months.  This meant we have been able to cement ourselves in the dance landscape of Leeds and help to solidly build a community which we hope stay in the city for the long term.

Also, the people who are based here are very busy trying to stay afloat in other jobs both in and out of the dance industry, that impact upon their ability to come to class. So although we have over 270 of you on our books, our average number of attendees per class is around 7. The average attendance isn’t big enough yet for us to justify two classes.  With a bigger pool of people in the region coming to class consistently,  in the future we may be able to argue the case that we need two classes a day, but at this point, it would potentially make the project unsustainable.  We didn’t want to take the risk of losing the one class a day we already have and so made the call to keep it to one.

We’ll be giving you more updates on this blog over the coming weeks, but remember we are always open to your suggestions and happy to talk through any ideas you may have. Please get in touch!


Remember the Leeds Culture Gathering?

With the autumn cold creeping up on us, let's have a look at some photos from the Leeds Culture Gathering that we put on earlier this year. Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch has written a short review of the event as well. Enjoy!

It was a cold but sunny evening, the perfect atmosphere for a familiar gathering that turned around dance. The space, Live Art Bistro, welcomed the visitors with a reception full of home-made cakes and the bright smiles of the organisers, the ProDanceLeeds 'Girls'.

The night was exactly what the poster said it was going to be, a LAB. It was a platform to present works in process, where Clementine Telesfort and Iris Borràs showed an extract of a duet that was evocative of the sweetness of French cinema. Also a duet, Tora Hed and Georgina Buchannan managed to create a subtle connection between the movement of one performer and the voice of the other.

The night also had space for interaction. The charismatic Akeim Buck got the audience to shake it up! His performance, with the musical partnering of Otis Jones, was a permanent call-response with the public, who had a direct impact on the resulting show.

Sarah Maria Cook and Joanne Armitage offered a futuristic approach to dance. A piece where live computer programming shapes the movement of the dancer, giving constant information about steps, speeds, directions...through three screens that created the frame of the stage.

The room left space for some words as well, not just in the bar, where dancers and non-dancers could relax and share impressions, but also through a few programmed talks. Gregory James Waller and Marek Tymkow, two resident DJs in Leeds, shared their secrets of reading the audience´s energy during their sessions.

To take it further, dance got mixed with philosophy through the voice of Aaron Meskin, a professional philosopher who is also a dance lover.

With a raffle, crisps, lots of good vibrations, children rolling in the floor and adults dancing around, the event felt like a celebration of dance! Nothing to do with the silent white coldness that comes to mind when picturing a laboratory.

Anna Cabré-Verdiell Bosch

New Dance Studio in Leeds

Hey dear ones,

I hope you are finding your way around the new website! You may have noticed while browsing the fabulous line up of teachers that we’re bringing you this autumn, that a lot of the classes in the coming few months will take place at the Dance Studio Leeds.

The Dance Studio Leeds is run by lovely Katie Geddes who has been super supportive to us since the inception of this programme. Katie runs a jam packed programme of classes (that you might want to have a peek at) in her two studios at Mabgate Mills since a few years back. In September, she also launched a new studio. Check it out!

The new studio is a bit bigger than the other ones, and this is where you’ll find ProDance’ morning classes this autumn. Wohoo brand new studio!

Also, remember that if you have a Friends Card you get 10% off when hiring a studio from Dance Studio Leeds. Pretty handy if you are looking for rehearsal space!.


Flying Camels [Anna reviews]

We've got a new thing going at ProDanceLeeds: weekly reviews! Most Mondays, you'll be able to read a review of the class that's on that week, written by someone who isn't part of the ProDance team. We're thinking this will help when you want to decide whether a class sounds like it might be for you or not! We sneakily started this already last week with Anna Cabré-Verdiell reviewing James Finnemore's class. She's back again this week with a review of Humanhood. Enjoy!

Rudi Cole and Julia Robert-Pares, the founders and members of Humanhood, work in absolute tune, passing the leading role of the class from one to the other in a smoothly synchronised way.

The lesson begins with all the participants gathering in a circle. We get absolutely immersed in a meditative practise before we even realise, bringing up the awareness towards collectivity while working on the individual inner focus. Using breath as the main engine for the body to start warming up, the meditation involves at first continuous and sinuous movements reminiscent of Tai Chi, waking up the joints and the skeleton structure. Then, more dynamic sequences increase the muscle involvement, still using breath as the movement promoter.

Later on, with the bodies already warm, the bounce takes the room. Julia guides the dancers into an almost unconscious state, where the aim is to bounce the body trying to loosen all its parts while working in crescendo, speeding up the tempo and the dynamics.  It feels like camel riders racing in the desert. The body gets physically excited, but Julia insists in keeping the calm inside, as a way of reaching inner tranquillity even when the body gets explosive. Music wise, beautiful Arabic music helps the jockeys to achieve their purpose, with the accurate accompaniment of the Cole brothers, Azizi and Rudi, playing drums and flamenco clapping at once.

The last bit of the class focuses on repertoire from the piece “Zero”, recently premiered by the British-Catalan couple. The grounding nature of the material gets blown away by the light quality in which it is executed.