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WE ARE THE BENCH

The BENCH is the brain child of Artistic Director and Choreographer Tamsin Fitzgerald. Tamsin has brought together leading female choreographers from across the UK, who together, have devised an extraordinary programme which forms The BENCH.

Just for women, The BENCH aims to offer female choreographers the opportunity to discuss, create, debate, network and be commissioned. Not only about developing talent, The BENCH joins together venues, producers, commissioners and arts leaders to influence policy and opportunities for women working within the dance sector in the UK. 

Mentors and contributors to this year’s programme include: 

TAMSIN FITZGERALD, KATE FLATT, ROSIE KAY, LIV LORENT, SHARON WATSON,  CHARLOTTE VINCENT AND CAROLINE FINN

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TAMSIN FITZGERALD

Tamsin trained at Northern School of Contemporary Dance and founded 2Faced Dance Company in 1999. As Artistic Director of 2Faced Dance, Tamsin has been creating and touring works nationally and internationally to much critical acclaim, including State of Matter, Still Breathing, Third, 7.0, In the Dust, Out of His Skin, Two Old Men, Lucid Grounds (currently touring nationally as part of Dreaming in Code) and KAPOW.  Commissions for Tamsin include: Soap The Show (world tour) for Chameleon Berlin, MTV Awards, Watch This Space with Hofesch Scheter for IDFB, Wings of Desire with Circa for IDFB,  GLOW Festival, The Rock for MOKO Dance, Shipley Festival and The Birmingham Weekender 2015. 

Tamsin is a Rayne Choreographic Fellow, which led to her working with Australian Dance Theatre, The Ballet Boyz and St.Giles Trust, a homeless charity. Tamsin was awarded the Jerwood Choreographic Research Prize for a new immersive, outdoor dance and circus experience, The Pod, due to premier in 2017. Tamsin has choreographed and taught at The Place, NSCD, The Centre for Advanced Training in Birmingham as well as leading on major educational initiatives internationally in Norway, Bulgaria and Brazil.

www.2faceddance.co.uk

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KATE FLATT

Kate studied at the Royal Ballet School and choreography with Léonide Massine, who she subsequently assisted on revivals of his work in USA and Australia. Further choreographic study was with Nina Fonaroff, Robert Cohan and Glen Tetley. Her career as an established theatre choreographer spans a diverse range of settings nationally and internationally. Notably, Kate was one of the original creative team at the RSC for Les Miserables, now at the Queens Theatre. Other theatre choreography includes plays at the National Theatre, Young Vic and Old Vic and the celebrated production of Turandot at the Royal Opera. 

Dance theatre and cross over work includes: Soul Play, Songs from a Hotel Bedroom, Ballroom of Joys and Sorrows, Oss and Ox and in development, a new work on Sonnets for Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. Musical theatre: Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof; Umbrellas of Cherbourg Opera: Turandot, Peter Grimes, The Carmelites, Gloriana; William Tell, Aida, and Carmen Film: Dancing Room, The Avengers, Clash of the Titans and Chaplin Theatre: Roots, Pains of Youth, Three Sisters, Dream Play, Dr. Faustus, Ends of the Earth, Albert Speer and Hamlet. 

Kate is a Rayne Choreographic Fellow, a Churchill Fellow, and a Creative Associate at Watford Palace Theatre. She is a former Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University on their MA programme. She currently teaches choreography at the Royal Ballet School and movement for Opera singers at Royal College of Music.

www.kateflatt.com

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ROSIE KAY

Rosie Kay trained at London Contemporary Dance School and formed Rosie Kay Dance Company, based in Birmingham in 2004. The company regularly tours the UK and Internationally with dance theatre productions. Theatre based works include Asylum, The Wild Party, Double Points: K, Supernova and 5 Soldiers- The Body Is The Frontline. Most recently Rosie Kay Dance Company has toured nationally with There is Hope, a work that explores religion, faith and belief. Outdoor works include The Great Train Dance, and Ballet on the Buses created with Birmingham Royal Ballet.  Rosie Kay Dance Company was nominated as Best Independent Dance Company by the National Dance Awards, Critics Circle 2012.

Rosie was choreographer to the musical feature film, Sunshine on Leith (dir Dexter Fletcher produced by DNA and Black Camel) and collaborated in the creation of Sluts of Possession, a work made in collaboration with the Pitt Rivers Museum. Rosie also created Haining Dreaming, a large-scale outdoor work in the Scottish Borders in a large country house and estate. Rosie is the Leverhulme Artist in Residence at the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnology, University of Oxford and a former Rayne Foundation Fellow, which has led to secondments with Anthony Minghella in Africa. She is also Associate Artist of DanceXchange, Birmingham Hippodrome and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Artists.

www.rosiekay.co.uk

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LIV LORENT

Liv Lorent established balletLORENT in 1993, and represented the UK in the Deuxiéme Rencontres Choréographiques Internationale. She became an Associate Artist at The Place London, before relocating to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1996 to become resident choreographer at Dance City.   As Artistic Director of balletLORENT, Liv has been touring works both nationally and internationally to much acclaim, including: Strange Glitter; The Ball; la nuit intime; Angelmoth; Designer Body; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Underneath the Floorboards; Rapunzel (currently touring nationally); and The Night Ball, which premiered on the 11th July 2013 at MEM Wallsend to celebrate balletLORENT’s 20th Anniversary. The company has collaborated with other international companies including; Carte Blanche, Eunetstar and Cultuurcentrum Brugge.

Liv has received many awards for her works including: the Jerwood Choreography Award 2001; The Arts Foundation Choreography Award 2005; Artist of The Year at the 2008 Journal Culture Awards; and Performance of the Year (Rapunzel) at the 2012 Journal Culture Awards. Underneath the Floorboards was shortlisted for Best Performance at the 2011 Journal Culture Awards. In 2014, Liv was awarded an MBE for Services to Dance through the New Years Honours List.  Commissions for Liv include: Propeller for the BalletBoyz; the Herald Angel award winning LUXURIA for Scottish Dance Theatre; and Into the Mouth of the Orchid for Singapore Dance Theatre. Liv has collaborated with Northern Stage since 1998 with Threepenny Opera, and choreographed their 2009 Christmas show Peter Pan. Liv trained at the Arts Educational School, Tring for five years, and also completed a BA (Hons) at the Laban Centre, London.

www.balletlorent.com

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SHARON WATSON

Trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, Sharon danced with Spiral and Extemporary Dance Theatre before joining Phoenix as a dancer from 1989 to 1997. Whilst there, she worked with choreographers such as Michael Clarke, Donald Byrd, Bebe Miller, Darshan Singh Bhuller and Philip Taylor.  Her own company, ABCD was formed in 1998 and has toured both nationally and internationally. Returning to Phoenix in 2000 as the company’s Rehearsal and Tour Director, Sharon toured extensively in the UK and USA for 6 years.

In 2006 she embarked upon a fellowship with the Clore Leadership Programme for which her secondment took her to the Sage Gateshead, where she delivered a Choreographers and Composers course.

Sharon created and delivered Dancing with Rhinos in 2008 as part of the regional cultural Olympiad for Yorkshire. Prior to taking up post at Phoenix she also spent eight months as Director of Learning and Access at Northern Ballet Theatre. Sharon was appointed as the 7th Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre in May 2009 and in 2010 was named as one of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s Women to Watch, a list of 50 influential women working in arts and culture in the UK. First awarded in 2010, Sharon is one of the distinguished panel of judges for the New Adventures Choreographer Award.  In 2013 Sharon was nominated for the prestigious h.Club100 search for the UK’s most influential people working in the creative industries. In the same year, Sharon collaborated with BBC’s adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and choreographed pieces to feature in the seven-part series due to be screened in 2015.

Since returning to the company Sharon has choreographed Fast Lane for Phoenix’s Ignite tour, Melt for the company’s Reflected programme and re-worked Never Still into Never 2 Still. Repetition of Change, featured as part of the successful Particle Velocity programme. In 2014 Sharon choreographed two major commissions - Ghost Peloton for Yorkshire Festival 2014 Grand Départ of the Tour de France; Honour, a multimedia live performance by Quays Culture for the centenary of WW1; and artistically directed a large scale performance for the RFL Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. 

Sharon is a trustee of Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures, The Place, West Yorkshire Playhouse, regional judge for the inaugural BBC’s Young Dancer and an artistic advisor for Central School of Ballet and Leeds Inspired.

www.phoenixdancetheatre.co.uk

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CHARLOTTE VINCENT

Charlotte formed Vincent Dance Theatre (VDT) in 1994  and has directed all the company’s work to date. VDT is an international ensemble devising collaborative, interdisciplinary performance work that challenges conventional values in dance and gender politics. Vincent devised and performed in all VDT’s work until 2002 and has designed the company’s work since 2005. VDT allies the collaborative approach in the studio to the ethos and structure of the company, placing importance on equality for women, providing supportive conditions for parents to return to work and employing mature, experienced practitioners, giving value to the experience they bring to any creative process.

Charlotte is committed to raising the profile of female-led arts practice in the UK and her distinctive voice acts as a mentor, teacher, facilitator, writer, provocateur and catalyst for critical debate and social change. Charlotte was on the Artists Advisory Group at Yorkshire Dance and Steering Group for Dance UK’s National Choreographic Conference in 2013. Charlotte completed a Clore Leadership Short Course (2010), the Clore Programme for CEO/Artistic Directors (2011) and Clore Brave Conversations Programme in 2013. Charlotte also choreographs other companies in the UK and abroad. Charlotte teaches choreography, devising and composition at BA, MA and professional level extensively across the UK and facilitates a range of community engagement projects. She also works as a Director / Dramaturg, most recently supporting the research phase in 2013 for Sue MacLaine’s Can I Start Again, Please (touring 2015), directing Two Destination Language’s Near Gone (Total Theatre Award for Innovation, Experimentation and playing with form 2014, still touring) and directing Kiera Martin’s Here Comes Trouble (touring 2015/16). Charlotte collaborates with Claire MacDonald to facilitateThe Table, a growing network of established female artists who come together to share food, ideas, dialogue and strategies for survival.

She also collaborates / performs with Liz Aggiss as V&A Artefacts to create daring new work by two aging female artists who really should know better. In 2012 Charlotte initiated and curated the inaugural Juncture in Leeds, a 4 week festival of experimental, female led performance / practice at Yorkshire Dance. Charlotte Vincent is Resident Artist at South East Dance. VDT is a National Portfolio Organisation,funded by Arts Council England and Associate Company at Brighton Dome and Festival. VDT and Yorkshire Dance are Artistic Partners.

In 2014 Charlotte adopted a two year old son.

www.vincentdt.com

www.thetable.org.uk

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caroline finn

Born in England, Caroline Finn attended the Arts Educational School, Tring and then the Juilliard School New York where she attained her BFA in Dance in 2004. She went on to dance for Ballett Theater Munich, Ballet Preljocaj and Compagnie Carolyn Carlson. A freelance dancer and choreographer since 2009, Caroline’s acclaimed solo work Bernadette has been performed in Aix en Provence, Munich, Luzern, Berlin, Paris and South Korea and she has created works for companies such as Cross Connection Ballet, Copenhagen, Compagnie DIEM, Teatr Groteska, Krakow and Tanz Luzerner Theater, Switzerland.

In 2009 she was one of 6 internationally selected choreographers to take part in the renowned choreographic workshop,SIWIC in Zurich. In 2012, Caroline reinterpreted John Cage’s ‘Sixteen Dances’ with live orchestra for the D.A.N.C.E festival in Munich and most recently, in 2014, she created her 3rd full length piece for Theater in Kempten, Germany, entitled ‘Killing your darlings’.

Based in Munich, Caroline is a member of Tanztendenz München e.V. and teaches regularly at various dance schools in the area.

She is a winner of a 2014 New Adventures Choreographer Award to create a new work with Phoenix Dance Theatre.

www.carolinefinn.com

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the bench fellows 2016-2017

 

 

 

ANNIE-LUNETTE DEAKIN-FOSTER 

An exciting, enthusiastic and professional contemporary dance theatre Choreographer, Rehearsal Director and Movement Director.

Since 2005, Annie-Lunnette has been working within the dance sector, by way of teaching, performing, choreographing, creating production concepts, as well as assisting well known choreographers in the field and establishing her own company. Having graduated from Middlesex University in 2005 where she received a Bachelor's degree in Dance with Performing Arts, Annie went on to become a co-founder of award winning company, C-12 Dance Theatre. Annie is currently working as Associate Choreographer at The Shakespeares' Globe on the upcoming production of The Little Match Girl and Other Happier Tales for the 2016-17 Winter Season.

CATHERINE YOUNG 

Catherine Young is a Dance Ireland Associate Artist & Associate Artist with Siamsa Tire where she has been Dancer/Choreographer in Residence since 2006. She founded & co-curated Tocht International Dance Festival (2011-2015) as well as establishing & directing Kerry Youth Dance Theatre (2008-2014). In 2011, she established Catherine Young Dance and has been making & touring work to critical acclaim with recent company works “Ultima Thule” and “Woman Stood Regardless” selling out their runs in Dublin.

Catherine holds an MA in Contemporary Dance from the University of Limerick where she is also a guest lecturer/choreographer on the BA and MA programs. Prior to this, she spent eight years training and performing in San Francisco and New York. Catherine has studied/worked with Printz Dance Project (USA), The American Conservatory Theatre (USA), Darell Jones (USA), Retina Dance Company (UK/Belgium), Lacina Coulibaly (Kongo Ba Teria Dance Company – Africa), Wendy Houstoun (UK) and Hofesh Schecter Company (UK); and has created work for the Dublin Dance Festival, Dublin Fringe Festival, Coisceim Dance Theatre, Shawbrook Touring Company, the Big Bang Festival of Rhythm, Féile Fáilte and the University of Limerick. Catherine was one of the 2014 artists selected to partake in Dublin Theatre Festival’s Next Stage Programme and in 2015 she was selected to partake in South East Dance’s Dramaturgy TEST programme with Dramaturg in Residence Lou Cope.

She has been recipient of multiple awards from the Arts Council since 2006 including the Dance Bursary Award, the Dance Artist in Residence Award and the Dance Project Award. Her work has been performed throughout Ireland as well as touring internationally. She is currently working on an intercultural dance project “Welcoming the stranger” with refugees and migrant, using dance as a medium to connect and integrate.

EMMA JAYNE PARK

Carrying the innate values of hip hop culture whilst exploring new territories in dance theatre, Emma Jayne Park makes socio-political performances and installations as a catalyst for deepening discussion and encouraging social change.  'High octane... energetic, witty and playful', (The Skinny) her practice asks the audience to engage through questioning their own norms and role in the performance; illustrated significantly in #thesolofilter, a process in which Emma invites artists, audiences and critics to remake her work into the piece they wish they had seen.

After graduating from Edinburgh's Telford College with a First Class BA Hons in Dance, Emma furthered her training at DNA Manhattan with practitioners such as Lynn Simonson, Douglas Dunn and Diane McCarthy. Returning to Scotland to undertake an apprenticeship with Company Chordelia, Emma has since worked with a variety of practitioners such as Conflux (Ricardo Puccetti/ Patrick Nolan), Ocean All Over, Angus Balbernie, Norman Douglas, Freshmess, Barrowland Ballet and Gary Clarke.

Committed to developing her creative voice, Emma has travelled across Europe learning intensively from practitioners such as Alan Greig, Ivo Dimchev, Katie Duck, Rasmus Olme, David Gordon, Liz Lerman, Nicole Piesl and Alva Noe, supported by Creative Scotland and the Choreographic Futures programme. Further receiving mentorship from Christine Devaney, Jonzi D and Jonathan Burrows through the choreographic development initiatives of Breakin’ Convention.

Founding her company Cultured Mongrel as a means to impact the sector beyond simply touring work, she brings together unique combinations of artists to generate original concepts for touring, participation and challenging existing infrastructures. Known for touring anywhere with a double plug socket, Emma works equally in urban and rural environments with people from a diverse range of backgrounds. Emma is currently Associate Artist with the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival and was named one of ASSITEJ’s Next Generation 2016.

JO MEREDITH

Described as 'one to watch' by dance critic Luke Jennings in The Observer, Jo Meredith is a choreographer working in dance, theatre and opera.

Her choreography has been performed at venues including Sadler's Wells, The London Palladium, Savoy Theatre, The Place, Robin Howard Dance Theatre, The Blue Elephant, Southbank Centre, Bridewell Theatre, Arcola, St James's Piccadilly, Wimbledon Theatre and Christchurch Spitalfields. She received Arts Council England Grants for the Arts funding to develop a new dance and spoken-word project with her writer-collaborator Sean Bruno.

Her work as a movement director in theatre and opera includes I Caught Crabs in Walberswick (Linbury Studio Theatre, LAMDA), Donny's Brain (Hampstead Theatre Downstairs), Così fan tutte, Don Pasquale, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung (Longborough Festival Opera), Un Ballo In Maschera, A Fairy Queen, Macbeth (Iford Arts).Don Giovanni and La Calisto (English Touring Opera). Movement for the JPYA Summer Performance at the Royal Opera House and La Scala Di Seta and The Lighthouse, Linbury Studio Theatre all directed by Greg Eldridge. Revival movement direction for Leah Hausman on Sir David McVicar's Rigoletto at Teatro Real, Madrid. She works for the National Youth Ballet and is the Creative Director of English National Ballet's Youth Dance Company ENB Youth Co.

KEIRA MARTIN

Best described as dynamic, determined and down to earth, Keira is an Aerial Irish Contemporary Dancer and Choreographer born and raised in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, where she trained in traditional Irish Step Dance. Keira competed at an International level before commencing her studies at The Northern School of Contemporary Dance (Leeds) and New School for Dance Development (Amsterdam).

Keira has been a widely sought after performer with companies and has toured nationally and internationally for the past 15 years with; Yolande Snaith,Fidget Feet Aerial Dance, Kompany Malakhi, Assault Events, Seal Charlerio/PlanK, Biserk Dance, State of Emergency, Bermuda Dance Co, Nathan Trice Dance Rituals and Spirit of The Dance. Keira has undertaken projects with renowned artists Jonathan Burrows, Yolande Snaith, Bawren Tavaziva, Beth Cassani, Luca Silvestrini, Donald Edwards, Yael Flexor, Nic Sandiland and Sally Marie. 

Keira has been Rehearsal Director for Mobius Dance Theatre and Autin Dance Theatre.  She's currently collaborating with Hayley Youell  on ‘Outfit’, Wayne Sables Project on ‘Intense Attachment’ and Nadia Iftkar's ‘Company of Others’

Most recently Keira has created a solo work 'Here Comes Trouble' under the direction of Charlotte Vincent, with music produced by Jamie Roberts. 

LAILA DIALLO

Laila is a dance maker based in Bristol. For the past ten years, she has been creating works, primarily for live performance, that have toured across the UK and internationally. Her practice also involves contributions to opera, theatre and television productions as movement director/choreographer. Among others: All’s Well That Ends Well (National Theatre), The Prince of Homburg, The Dance of Death (Donmar), War and Peace, Aida (Canadian Opera Company), Otello (Opera North), The Story of Music (BBC2).

Laila frequently works as an educator within the university and vocational sectors, with children, youth and community groups as well as with emerging artists and peers through commissioned work and the delivery of workshops, classes, public talks and mentoring. A recipient of a Rayne Fellowship for Choreographers in 2006, Laïla also was an Associate Artist at ROH2, Royal Opera House, between 2009 and 2012. A new work commissioned by Skanes Dance Theatre in Sweden and co-created with Mélanie Demers will premiere in Spring 2017.

SEETA PATEL

Born in London, Seeta Patel began training under the guidance of Kiran Ratna in 1990 and has since worked with a range of Bharatanatyam and contemporary dance professionals including Mavin Khoo, Padma Shri Adyar K Lakshman, Pushkala Gopal, Darshan Singh Bhuller and more.

Patel has toured with DV8 Physical Theatre, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance Company, David Hughes Dance Company and Mavin Khoo Dance amongst others.

She presented her solo classical London debut, Shringara: Journey of Desire to a sold out audience at The Clore Upstairs, Royal Opera House (June 2009), and went on to tour the UK in 2010/11. She has subsequently presented solo classical works Dancing My Siva, and more recently, Something Then, Something Now to sold out audiences at Sadler’s Wells and the Purcell Room.

She produced an award-winning short dance film, The Art of Defining Me in 2013, which gained national and international acclaim.

Seeta was a judge, mentor and advisor for the first ever BBC Young Dancer Competition.

She choreographed a new play at Theatre Royal Stratford East called The House of In Between and has recently returned from a 6 week research trip to Australia funded by the Artists’ International Development Fund.

SONIA SABRI

Sonia Sabri is amongst the brightest and most inspirational of British born dancer-choreographers working in the twenty-first century. Creating work that spans from the presentation of classical roots of Kathak to explorations of contemporary approaches, her productions reflect an appreciation of Western and Eastern cultures. She has created a fresh, unique style of Kathak by reinventing it from within, by pushing boundaries and generating work that is original in concept and exciting and relevant to today’s audiences. As a dance artist, she is acclaimed for her enchanting stage presence, grace and musicality that enthral audiences both nationally and globally.

She has secured an international reputation for collaborationacross dance styles and art forms including work with pioneers Sarvar Sabri,Sir Trevor Nunn, Richard Alston, Lea Anderson, Shobana Jeyasingh, Nitin Sawhney, Rose English, Jonzi D, and several others.

In addition, Sonia is a teacher of Kathak and regularly undertakes various workshops, lecture- demonstrations and residencies in both national and international venues. She is accredited by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). She is also the Artistic Director of youth dance company, Kathakaars.

Sonia’s innovation within her form has been highly acclaimed in the contemporary dance world through several commissions some including The Place Prize, BBC, Channel 4, Tanzhaus, ARTE, Phizzical Productions, Manasamitra, South Bank Centre, and for London Olympics 2012 through Cultural Olympiad’s 'Encompass 360 digital dance' project.

She is a recipient of the Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award, Lisa Ullman Choreography scholarship, and was selected for Dance UK’s 2014/15 Mentoring programme. Sonia was nominated for the Asian Women of Achievement Award and for the London Dance Awards. Recently she won the Eastern Eye ACTA Award for Dance 2016. Sonia is an Associate Artist of one of UK’s most celebrated arts venues, mac, Birmingham. 

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the bench fellows 2015-2016