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ADAD at Dance UK

 

November, 2003

Image - IRIE! dance theatre

The Association of Dance of the African Diaspora (ADAD) was established in 1994 to provide support for black dancers and ‘Black dance’ in Britain. In June 2003, the organisation formed a strategic alliance with Dance UK and became a programme within the Dance UK’s programme of work.

In this article the ADAD team describe their objectives and plans and Beverley Glean, Artistic Development Director of IRIE! dance theatre tells us why ADAD matters to her.

ADAD

Vision :

The vision of ADAD is to see the development of a strong infrastructure for Dance of the African Diaspora in Britain. Our focus is on traditional and urban dance forms, from Africa and the Caribbean, and dance forms with strong African retentions from the Americas such as Tap, Jazz, Capoeira and Samba.

Mission:

Our mission is to:

  1. Support dance artists who work with dance forms of the African Diaspora in Britain.
  2. Increase the visibility of the sector, and improve understanding by disseminating information.
  3. Raise the level of critical discourse concerning the practice of dance forms of the African Diaspora in Britain. This will include creating an awareness of the complexity of African Peoples’ dance and black dance as concepts and encouraging closer critical engagement with the work of practitioners.

Methods:

  1. Collaborations: producing time-limited projects of an educational, developmental, or artistic nature in conjunction with other establishments in order to achieve maximum reach.
  2. Networks : creating networks of practitioners and opportunities for practitioners to network with those of similar interests to achieve specific goals within the areas of advocacy, skill sharing, and debate.
  3. Publishing: circulating and documenting information that will benefit professionals, amateurs and students via the newsletter, fact sheets and occasional publications. Raising the visibility of the sector.
  4. Advocacy: contributing to the development of educational initiatives in schools and higher institutions. Supporting initiatives run by other organisations with similar values.

Values:

ADAD sees the various uses of the dance form, both traditional and urban as a defining characteristic of the African Peoples’ Dance sector.

ADAD recognises that the majority of artists working with these dance forms are independent or freelance and seeks to support them.

ADAD recognises the importance of the dance form as a means of expressing the heritage, culture and sense of continuity for black people in Britain, especially those of African and Caribbean origin. In view of this the organisation will address issues surrounding ethnic minority status directly or by sign posting to other organisations.

ADAD advocates for an infrastructure that will support the teaching and understanding of the dance forms of the African Diaspora not only for the benefit of people of African and Caribbean heritage but also for the benefit and participation of wider society. Dance in multi-cultural Britain is key to developing good inter-cultural and inter-racial relations.

ADAD sees as critical to the development of the sector an understanding of how the dance form stands alone on one hand and how it informs theatrical choreographic practices on the other.

ADAD promotes both traditional and experimental theatrical practices and sees the various names under which practitioners might present their work, be this Black dance, African dance, Caribbean dance, Contemporary African or Urban and variations/ fusions of these as indications of several emerging theatrical dance practices and is keen to identify trends and patterns.

CURRENT PROJECTS

•  Trailblazers
In 2003, six fellowships were awarded to dances artists who work with African Peoples’ dance forms. Each fellowship provides a bursary, and supports an individual development plan and attendance at sessions on business skills, funding, promotion and artistic direction. Delivered in collaboration with Dance UK’s Equal Programme.
•  Information and networking
ADAD runs an e-group which circulates relevant information on jobs, performances and opportunities. In December 2003, an online magazine and databases on companies, solo artists and teachers of African People’s Dance will be launched on Dance UK’s new website. The Winter Issue of dance UK News 2003 will focus on African Peoples’ Dance.
•  Launch programme

From June to December 2003, to mark its alliance with Dance UK, ADAD’s launch programme will comprise a conference, a seminar, a choreographic forum, research into accreditation, and performances as part of Black History Month. The launch programme is funded in part by a RALP ( Regional Arts Lottery Programme) grant.

Why ADAD is Important

By Beverley Glean, Artistic Development Director, IRIE! dance theatre

The essence of IRIE! dance theatre’s vision is to create an organisation able to deliver and sustain artistic activity which will provide education, training, outreach work and performance in dance, based primarily on stimuli from Africa, and the Caribbean.   

In order for African Peoples Dance companies such as IRIE! and many individual artists to realise their vision, there is a level of support that is needed which addresses issues of a safe and nurturing environment that provides appropriate conditions for these developments to take place.

Since 1994 ADAD has endeavoured to provide the focus and stability through its vision…to see the development of a strong infrastructure for Dance of the African Diaspora in Britain… The case for investment in such a development agency is well made when one considers the number of under resourced APD artists in London alone.

ADAD battled on many fronts to raise the profile of the organisation. However, the lack of expertise and resources proved too great.

The strategic alliance formed with Dance UK confirms ADAD’s determination and commitment to continue this much-needed recourse for the sector. Dance UK has the track record, framework and infrastructure necessary to support and develop APD, aiding the delivery of ADAD’s Vision, mission, methods and values. While Dance UK will clearly provide effective mainstream access, ADAD brings to Dance UK a greater culturally diverse profile, which can only strengthen its position as the lead organisation for dance professionals.

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