The Big Democracy

The Big DemocracyI was at a meeting recently where we were briefed on the priority issues for Powys Youth Forum. Two stood out for me - the lack of a democratic voice or platform for young people and their concerns and the difficulties in accessing the opportunity to take part arts & culture. At Powys Dance we grapple on a daily basis with being able to provide equitable access to opportunities to dance across a large, sparsely populated county.  We've also been wondering, at what point would public bodies be in breach of Article 31 of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child? Where is that line in the sand?

Article 31 states:

  1. Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
  2. Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

At the same time, National Theatre of Wales put a call out for applications from Mid Wales for the next round of the Big Democracy Project, which explores how the arts can help people to engage with the democratic process. I spoke to the forum and we exchanged some ideas and decided to submit a proposal:

Does the lack of infrastructure, access and opportunity in rural Wales means that public bodies in Wales are in breach of article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Can we unite as One Wales to campaign for all children and young people to have the chance to access cultural life?

It’s austerity-related to some degree, however it is also deeper than that. It’s about how the whole infrastructure (transport!) doesn’t support children and young people to access activity. Moreover, there is a lack of recognition of the higher costs involved in creating opportunity in rural contexts. If you think this issue is important, then vote for us:

And tweet: 

#bigdemocracy #onewales 

If we win, will host an assembly event at the Dance Centre to launch the Radnor Fringe Festival. Our assembly will be designed and led by young people in Powys. 

[wpvideo tbxzJLMa]

Summer is getting exciting!


Our courses are booking up fast, and Jemma has been busy working on some cracking choreo to keep everyone entertained and on their toes. Altogether now, "Money on my mind! Money on my mind!"

[wpvideo qHKghSsP]











Dis-COURSE Dance and Disablility

Iain, Rosie and Heidi went to the Dis-Course event, held on 19 September at the Riverfront in Newport.  It was presented by the wonderful special guest and dynamic ‘provocateur’, Caroline Bowditch, along with Darius James of Ballet Cymru and Helen Crocker of GDance. The event included two presentations to get us thinking about our current practice and future possibilities in dance and disability.  Darius challenged us to re-think our perceptions of ballet from an inaccessible, elite art form to ‘just another dance style’.  As such – why shouldn’t it be accessible?  Ballet Cymru traces its heritage from the heady days of the Ballets Russes which celebrated collaboration and individuality.  Surely dance and disability is about individuality and a person-centred approach to creativity in dance.  Darius has always sought to work with ballet dancers who express individuality as opposed to conforming to a particular mould.

Helen Crocker of GDance (Gloucestershire Dance) has partnered up with Ballet Cymru to produce Stuck in the Mud.  This is a site specific dance journey with a ‘stunning company of disabled and non-disabled professional dancers, musicians, and local community performers who bring historic surroundings to life’.  It has been performed at Hidcote Manor Gardens and Blackfriars in Gloucestershire and is due to come to Newport Victorian Market in November (12th and 13th).  GDance acting as a producer developed the concept and model and played the roles of liaising, recruiting and organising.  We were treated to a brief film giving a snapshot of the performance demonstrating just what can be achieved.

Caroline Bowditch then challenged us to come up with and then consider key questions in relation to dance and disability.  These centred around: progression routes for disabled dancers i.e. access to training and a professional career in dance;  the place for inclusive and discreet groups; joint responsibility for the progression of this work on local and national levels; addressing gaps in provision; developing partnerships, and what next for disability dance in Wales ….

The hope is that Stuck in the Mud can tour around Wales, hosted by different community dance organisations and sites as it travels the country.  From this day Powys Dance have started to develop ideas on how we can bring some of our diverse groups together to dance and possibly perform e.g. Powys Youth Dance Company could work with members of Me Myself Us, Friday Dancing could work with Dancercise.

We met lots of people from other organisations and were able to catch up with old friends and put names to faces.  A range of delegates included representation from Hijinx, Dance Blast, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Rubicon Dance, Sherman Theatre, Disability Arts Cymru, National Dance Company Wales and Bombastic.  Watch this space as Ballet Cymru may be resident in Powys at some point over the next three years partnering with us to offer you some exciting new possibilities.  A good day out and an opportunity to build new partnerships and think about new ideas.


Tu Allan Tu Mewn

Thursday's are now quiet at Dawns Powys Dance HQ, as the team rove the county with our new performance piece for three to seven year olds.

Powys Dance’s TU ALLAN TU MEWN the innovative, new and inspiring interactive dance performance and workshop for foundation phase children is touring Powys over the Autumn Term 2012.

The performance is split in to four sections: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, each followed by a short dance workshop based on the mini themes that the children recall.

TU ALLAN TU MEWN is available through the medium of Welsh, English or bilingually and is performed by two members of Powys Dance company both OUTSIDE and INSIDE whatever the weather!

If you're a teacher at a primary school in Powys who is interested in booking the show, then contact us - we still have some dates available.

Want to join Powys Youth Dance Company?

If you're looking for something to do this half term, are 11+ and enjoy dance, then why not take part in our 3 day half term intensive, everyone is welcome! It will be held at The Dance Centre in Llandrindod Wells on:

Wednesday 31st October - Friday 2nd November

If you would like to get involved just contact us for more information. Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

Hope to see you there!