What is Cloud Dance Festival
Cloud Dance Festival is a resource for the professional contemporary dance industry, presenting three showcases per year at a range of theatres across London over two or three nights. Our aim is to support and promote contemporary dance and contemporary ballet, and to make both artforms more accessible to non-dance audiences. Our lineups typically consist of a range of new and emerging companies, with special guests regularly invited to headline each festival.
We hold three festivals annually largely to work around the availability of companies who would be unable to participate if our festivals were only held once or twice a year. Our July festival is our largest festival of the year, while our November/December festival is normally a selection of the year’s highlights with a small number of selected applicants.
Over our twelve festivals to date, over 130 companies have performed, with 38 companies performing in more than one festival. We choose a small number of audience and festival favourites from each festival and invite them to return, which not only helps them develop their own audiences, but also stimulates creativity: although these companies are welcome to perform the same work again, most usually decide to create a brand new work for each festival. In addition, many of the works presented at each festival are brand new, choreographed specifically for our festival. We also support artists from the regions, helping them to develop a London audience base for their future work; nearly a third of the participants to date have been based outside London.
What distinguishes Cloud Dance Festival from other contemporary dance showcases is the support we offer our performers and our emphasis on artistic quality; while many other showcases’ remit is to provide performance opportunities for emerging artists, we strive to present only high-quality dance. This is for the benefit of our audience, especially if they are new to dance; it also reflects well on our participants for their future endeavours.
In addition, we also actively support other areas of the dance industry, and have schemes in place to support and mentor emerging dance photographers and dance writers.
Our past special guests have included Tommy Franzén, Drew McOnie, Ballet Black, Jonathan Goddard and Gemma Nixon, Dam Van Huynh, Mavin Khoo, Jarkko Lehmus and New Adventures dancers Dena Lague, Kerry Biggin and Sophia Hurdley.
The companies which we regularly support include Taciturn (Liverpool), Slanjayvah Danza (Leeds), Vex Dance Theatre (Bristol), Lîla Dance (Chichester), Sol Dans, Hagit Yakira and Pair Dance (Herts).
While the majority of our performers are London-based, nearly a third of our past performers are based outside London, including a small number of overseas companies.
We have been receiving growing industry recognition, and feedback has been consistently positive, stressing the importance of the service we provide dance professionals.
Reviews and audience feedback have been generally favourable; among our favourite quotes is “the general standard was a pleasing cut above Place Resolution and some of the curated Clore Studio events” by Bruce Marriott of Ballet Magazine, following our December ’09 festival. We normally have a minimum of two reviewers at each performance, and we conduct audience surveys at each festival.
We have received a lot of appreciation from our performers, who greatly value the festival and the ongoing opportunities it provides. In particular, they have stressed the support that we offer – not only support in terms of exposure, rehearsal space and the publicity, photos, DVDs and reviews they receive, but also from our working with and accommodating any issues they have from when they first approach us, and the ongoing support we offer long after the festival is over.
Cloud Dance Festival was originally founded in April 2007 to address the shortage of platforms despite the large number of talented contemporary dance professionals based in London.
In our first year, the festivals were held on one evening only in studio theatres; we then relaunched the festival in 2008, with the current format of approximately 20 companies over three days, with a two-day winter festival. We also trialled our first “CDF Lite” for smaller and newer companies, but we have not had an opportunity to repeat it since then.
In 2009, we were fortunate to be supported by Jacksons Lane for our first two festivals of the year, which we followed with our first “Best of Cloud Dance Festival” showcase at the end of the year.
Since 2010, we have chosen to move to midscale theatres such as Pleasance Theatre and Cochrane Theatre, because of the improved performance facilities, though the ongoing arts funding situation certainly makes this a challenge, resulting in not being able to hold the festival as regularly as we would like.
In 2011, we held one festival in July, followed by a two-year break, and in 2013, we have finally launched our return with festivals planned for July and November. In addition, in April 2013 we formed a collaboration with Giant Olive, based at the Lion & Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town, to produce a monthly evening of contemporary dance, called Cloud Dance Sundays.
Cloud Dance Festival became a registered company limited by guarantee in August 2009, and became a registered charity in December 2009.
Who We Are
Cloud Dance Festival is primarily run single-handedly by Chantal Guevara, who is a freelance dance manager, producer and photographer. Although Chantal has spent many years working in IT, she has also worked in several arts organisations including Arts Council England and Council for Dance Education & Training; her background is in project management, which she draws on for her work with Cloud Dance Festival.
Our lighting designer is Nic Holdridge, who has worked with many dance, opera and theatre companies over the years, and our stage manager is Cat Harmer, who brings a wealth of experience (and talented assistant stage managers) to our every festival.
We often have various adhoc short-term volunteers working on Cloud Dance Festival who have helped with arts management, marketing, press, administration and fundraising research; many of these volunteers have come from City University’s MA in Cultural Policy & Management. We have no volunteers at present.
During our festivals, we have a specialist dance lighting designer, a stage manager, deputy stage manager, assistant stage managers, a video editor, and several photographers and reviewers. We are extremely fortunate that most of our staff either work for free or at a substantially reduced rate.