In 2004, I received support through the Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship Fund to participate in a conference, community performance at Bryant University in Rhode Island, USA.
Led by Petra Kuppers, a disabled artist, cultural activist and then Bryant University’s Professor of Performance Studies, the event brought together over one hundred artists, educator, scholars and practitioners to consider themes of performance in building communities.
The experience of participating in this conference helped me to consider our work from an international perspective, and also opened me up to many different approaches to dance and performance making.
I came to the conference primarily as a dance practitioner who had moved into managing projects and, at that time, was Director of Citymoves in Aberdeen, Scotland. I was invited to contribute to the conference with a presentation on Generations, a project we had produced in 2002 for Aberdeen Art Gallery involving 60 local performers aged from 5 – 70. This was the first international conference that I had attended and it was both terrifying and exhilarating to have this opportunity. The experience of participating in this conference helped me to consider our work from an international perspective, and also opened me up to many different approaches to dance and performance making.
The conference explored the politics and ethics of these practices in ways that I hadn’t been exposed to previously, particularly foregrounding the experiences of disabled artists and those from marginalised communities. Being supported to travel to this conference gave me the opportunity to reflect on my dance experience and encouraged me to consider more fully the radical within performance making.
Later in 2004, I moved on from Citymoves to the role of Head of Dance at Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland). I also embarked part-time on a MA in Arts in Social Contexts at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, graduating in 2011. In 2016, I was appointed as Director of The Work Room in Glasgow, an organisation working with independent dance artists. My working practice is rooted in a belief that dance has the potential to be at the forefront of social change. As an artform, dance is expansive through the diversity of creative voices and physicalities now influencing development.
The opportunity through the LUTSF to participate in Community/ Performance encouraged me to explore a more expansive perspective on dance and I now relish the opportunity to give visibility to a diversity of artists & artistic practices.