South East Dance announces all-women dance programme for 2020

Part of the launch programme for South East Dance’s new home for dance, The Dance Space, 20:20 Vision aims to address long-standing gender imbalances in dance

In the week when we celebrate International Women’s Day, Brighton-based dance organisation, South East Dance, has announced it is to dedicate its inaugural programme in the city’s new home for dance, The Dance Space, exclusively to women and non-binary dance artists.

Entitled 20:20 Vision, the body of work will feature 20 unique performances from 20 choreographers and producers, all of whom identify as women or non-binary artists.

In the past 19 years, there has been just one female commission for the main stage at the Royal Ballet. Meanwhile, only five of the 16 associates at Sadler’s Wells are women. Both of these organisations have committed to widen and strengthen the pipeline of diverse creative talent, but there is more work to be done. With 20:20 Vision, South East Dance aims to challenge the long-standing imbalance in the dance sector towards white cis-male choreographers in the sector.

Local artists will be represented by Artistic Director of aerial dance theatre company Gravity & Levity, Lindsey Butcher; and award-winning live artist and Emeritus Professor in Visual Performance at the University of Brighton, Liz Aggiss. Known for her Punk aesthetic and music hall performance style, Aggiss will take to the stage with a special performance – The President’s Wife is Still Dancing featuring an extract from her new solo work Crone Alone.

Gravity & Levity will perform an aerial piece, Why, tethered to the exterior of The Dance Space in a taste of what’s to come from the building’s ongoing public programme. Choreographed by Fin Walker in 2004 for dancers Lee Clayden and Lindsey Butcher, Why will be re-created, re-scored by composer Ben Park and re-imagined for the new South East Dance building and performed by the original creative cast as a marking of a collective 60 years of crafting and creative practice.

Spanish-born choreographer and lecturer, Eva Recacha will also feature, in addition to Janine Harrington, a dance artist whose work explores movement and technology, and who is currently receiving professional development support from South East Dance.

The news was announced at a debate on the future of dance programming, hosted by South East Dance’s Artistic Director Cath James. Part of a series of events celebrating International Women’s Day, 50:50 Dance Programming was held at the Brighton Dome on Tuesday evening. It focused on overcoming gender-imbalance in the dance industry and asked whether quotas – in terms of programming, commissioning and leadership – could help refocus the spotlight on those who identify as women or non-binary choreographers.

Cath James, Artistic Director South East Dance, comments:

“With the opening of The Dance Space, and the launch of 20:20 Vision, comes increased focus on South East Dance’s mission to push the boundaries of dance, challenge the status quo and perceptions of what dance is, who makes it, what it can achieve and who it’s for. The programme gives women and non-binary choreographers a much-needed platform.

“Unfortunately, gender discrimination continues to run deep in the arts world. Women and non-binary choreographers are simply not given the same opportunity and recognition as male-identifying artists. With 20:20 Vision, we will challenge the status quo to showcase a powerful body of work from unique and talented women and non-binary artists.”

Lindsey Butcher, Artistic Director Gravity & Levity, adds:

“Gravity & Levity are thrilled to be presenting ‘Why’ as part of 20:20 Vision. We will be applying a decade and a half of experience and knowledge to this recreation and alongside that, more mature bodies. We are excited to be sharing the resulting piece, not only as a celebration of female creatives and an active reflection on creative practice, but also as a visible presence of an older generation of artists.”

The full programme will be announced later this year.

© Mark Morreau, courtesy of Scarabeus
South East Dance announces all-women dance programme for 2020