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LEEDS 2023 and Leeds Dance Partnership announce support for dance and movement based artists and organisations in Leeds

Keira Martin, one of 5 recipients of a Dance Seed Commission from LEEDS 2023 and Leeds Dance Partnership

In an exciting collaboration with Leeds Dance Partnership (LDP) and following an open call, we’re delighted to announce that we’ve awarded 5 seed commissions for independent dance and movement-based artists and organisations in Leeds. As part of our planning for our Year of Culture, we’ll work closely with these artists and organisations to develop inspiring new projects which complement the world class dance offer in our city. 

The seed commissions are designed to offer early-stage development support to artists and we hope this opportunity will act as a catalyst for the commissioned artists and organisations to explore new ways of working in the run up to 2023.

The commissioned artists are Gary Clarke, Keira Martin, Joseph Mercier & Alexah Tomey-Alleyne, Douglas Thorpe (Mad Dogs Dance Theatre), Akeim Toussaint Buck & Ashley Karrell. You can find out more about their work and commissioned projects below.

Dance Seed Commissions – Project Summaries

Gary Clarke, Artistic Director of Gary Clarke Company, will explore Leeds’s rich history and relationship with the River Aire. Using the river’s course as a pathway, Gary will create a fast-flowing river of people using movement, choreography, costume, and live music. 

Currently regarded as one of the UK’s leading independent contemporary dance artists Gary has worked with some of the world’s most prolific dance companies and choreographers and has developed a growing reputation for creating his own extraordinary dance work of various sizes and scales.

Keira Martin, Irish contemporary dance artist & musician, will collaborate with Romani gypsy storyteller and award-winning picture book author, Richard O’Neill, to develop a performance of Ossiri and the Bala Mengro

With an international career spanning over 20 years, Keira is a versatile storyteller, telling stories of the underrepresented through mesmerising Irish-Contemporary dance, music, song and culture. From a working-class background, Keira’s work openly highlights social and political issues related to identity, gender, social justice, culture and class.

Joseph Mercier & Alexah Tomey-Alleyne will bring together 23 Leeds and West Yorkshire based emerging dance artists who experience difference or otherness (because of their race, sexuality, gender, (dis)ability, class) and invite them to collaboratively create a series of solo performances connected by a large group  improvised score.

Alexah is a mixed Afro-Caribbean female artist from Leeds whose work balances making, performing, writing and advocacy. Her practice draws upon her culture and heritage as a means of exploring the moving body; her black identity is central within her work which she uses to explore blackness. 

Joseph is a queer artist working across disciplines, primarily in dance, live art and contemporary theatre. He works as an independent artist and also as co-director of performance collective PanicLab.

Douglas Thorpe (Mad Dogs Dance Theatre) will collaborate with Director Rod Dixon (Red Ladder) and Writer Andrea Heaton (Fidget Theatre), on a brand new physical dance theatre production based on experiences and stories from working as a local taxi driver in Leeds. 

After training at London Contemporary Dance School Douglas joined Phoenix Dance Company where he danced over a twenty-year period. Since 2008 Douglas has developed powerful and highly physical dance through Mad Dogs Dance Theatre including commissions for ACE Dance and Phoenix Dance Theatre.

Akeim Toussaint Buck will collaborate with Ashley Karrell to pilot Beat Motion Mass, a flash mob experience where a multitude of people will meet in public to perform as a dance and vocal ensemble. 

Born in Jamaica and raised in England, Akeim is an interdisciplinary performer and maker and graduate from Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Akiem creates performance work fusing dance, film, poetry, beat-box and singing to tell stories for a wide range of audiences.

If you want to find out more about Leeds Dance Partnership then head over to their Leeds Dance Open Day this weekend (Sunday 19th September). With lots of performances and activities taking place you’ll be spoilt for choice. Wander down to Quarry Hill, home of Northern Ballet, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Leeds Playhouse and Yorkshire Dance, and head up to Northern School of Contemporary Dance to enjoy everything this Open Day has to offer.

There’s still time to get involved in LEEDS 2023. We’re regularly announcing new opportunities for artists, organisations and participants to get involved as we continue to celebrate our city region. Why not have a look at our current opportunities to get involved plus jobs in our team to help deliver an extraordinary Year of Culture.

About Leeds Dance Partnership

Leeds Dance Partnership (LDP) is a consortium supporting and celebrating amazing dance in Leeds and beyond, led by world-class organisations and independent dance artists based in the city: Northern Ballet; Yorkshire Dance; Northern School of Contemporary Dance; Leeds Playhouse; Phoenix Dance Theatre; Leeds Beckett University; and with input from an independent dance representative on the partnership board.

The seed commissions are designed to offer early-stage development support to artists and we hope this opportunity will act as a catalyst for the commissioned artists and organisations to explore new ways of working in the run up to 2023.