The company developed new work, created new opportunities for professional development, attracted new audiences and created a huge finale event. Filling a gap in dance provision in the county, HR1 established 8 new dance classes in the main market towns creating some 1,500 attendances from October 2011 to July 2012.
Responding to a longstanding lack of professional development opportunities in Herefordshire, the Offshoot initiative employed two apprentice dance artists and the creation of a semi-professional company. Tamsin Fitzgerald, Artistic Director of 2Faced also worked with two external choreographers, Tom Dale and Freddie Opoku Addaie, to create In The Dust, a new body of work that has since toured to over 100 venues, including four countries outside of the UK.
The 18 month long programme was brought together at the GLOW Dance Festival, a one-off, full day outdoor celebration of dance. Professional dancers, private dance schools and community dance groups offered performances and participation, accompanied with family-friendly events. As night fell, a grand fire-lit performance featuring 2Faced and other dance groups filled the main stage.
The creation of GLOW was highly ambitious for 2Faced, the first time that they have organised a festival event of scale, located in a rural city and with a limited production budget. Challenges certainly existed: working on a historical site, dealing with contractors and the limitations of the London 2012 branding all raised production issues. However, GLOW reached beyond the typical, with 25% of pre-bookings coming from the most deprived areas of Hereford.
A number of 2Faced’s classes in the market towns are set to continue, and new relationships between the county’s dance organisations have been formed. A new programme of training and development is currently being put in place for dance artists in Herefordshire, to create a centre of excellence.
HR1 was part of the Legacy Trust UK programme Dancing for the Games, with additional funding from Arts Council England.
This article was originally published in Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in the West Midlands: A Record. Reproduced with kind permission of Dancing for the Games.
For cultural and creative organisations, the Cultural Olympiad presented an opportunity to take risks, and to work in a new way.
The Voyage was a large-scale dance theatre production in Victoria Square, Birmingham, led by Motionhouse and produced by Birmingham Hippodrome.