A brief history of Hull Dance

In 2004 Hull City Arts Unit started to focus more on developing contemporary dance within the City introducing the @hulldance brand.  They then developed the Hull Dance Strategy in collaboration with Dep Arts and Jo Ashbridge and from this worked with them to deliver a programme of activity 2012-1013 comprising

  • Performances at different venues and events in Hull
  • A mentoring programme by Gary Clarke
  • Drop-in classes and networking opportunities for local professional dancers
  • Appointing a trainee producer
  • Establishing the ‘thisishulldance’ website and Hull Dance Prize

I joined the team at the end of this programme, including as part of the professional panel for the first Hull Dance Prize.  I then continued working as a consultant adviser giving a specialist dance voice to the City Arts Team as they planned what to do next.

The 2-years 2014-216 comprised a programme developed and agreed collectively with local dancers. It focussed on local dancers dancing and creating work together led by established dance artists. The dancers also met together to share skills a in a weekly class and were supported by individual mentoring and seed-funding to help them to begin finding, and having confidence in, their individual artistic voice. This rapid period of growth ended in 2017 when local dancers had the chance to be part of several large-scale performance projects during the year of culture.

Dancers are central to a thriving dance community, however we also need chances for people to be able to discuss, perform and watch dance. Hull Dance has worked with Hull Truck Theatre and Hull New Theatre to increase audiences for contemporary dance as well as programming edgier HU1 events at Fruit and introducing the Transgressions Contemporary Performance Festival in 2017.

Tara joined the Hull Dance team at the end of 2015 as part of the Creative Apprentice Programme offered by Hull City Council and Hull2017, she remains with the team as Associate Producer. The team is completed by Georgette Purdey who is a marketing specialist.

The hard work and clear planning has paid off and contemporary dance in Hull is at an exciting stage of development. JoinedUp Dance, Tenfoot Dance Company and the partnership of Tamar Draper and Jo Ashbridge have all received project funding from ACE (Arts Council England). The winners of last year’s Hull Dance Prize, Živilė Virkutytė and Ed Grimoldby are waiting to hear the outcome of their application – fingers crossed! There are more and more chances to watch and take part in contemporary dance in the City. Given this new emboldened landscape, in April 2018 Hull Dance began working as an independent not-for-profit organisation. This new website is one of the first signs of our new period or development, explore it and engage with us through activities, performances and on social media so we make the next part of our journey together.

3 October 2018