Many websites and publications have been posting their dance highlights of 2015, which are exclusively of shows. But in our industry, how much of our work actually involves performing our work? 365* GFA grants have been awarded in dance this year (amounting to £7,383,626), and we can only guess how many more have been turned down, which goes to show how very active our industry is, even if all the weeks and months and years of slog and work and admin-ad-nauseam which go into each project and production generally goes overlooked.
Also, (no) thanks to a very large pulmonary embolism earlier this year, and deciding to live 300 miles away from London (which was fine until Virgin Trains took over and put all the train fares on steroids), I've had to settle for secondhand "viewing" of many shows, largely through Twitter. Not quite the same as the real thing, but thanks to Virgin Trains, a hell of a lot cheaper.
So my 2015 list of highlights is of the moments of our industry which have taken place off stage. I could list my favourite shows from this year, but where's the fun in that? Here goes.
- Wendy Houstoun's Facebook posts. There is a wee campaign - rightly so - to get them collated and published.
- Avatâra Ayuso being nominated for a National Dance Award - go Avatâra!
- This year's visitors to Newcastle, especially Tom Dale, Chris Akrill, Renaud Wiser, Rosie Kay, Eleesha Drennan, Steve Johnstone and Avatâra Ayuso (and Dam Van Huynh, who was in Leeds, but that counts, as I got to see him, and on a sofa, no less).
- introducing Tom Dale and Eleesha Drennan to each other, and Eleesha and Avatâra at the Crystal Pite show at Sadler's in February.
- all the fab dance at this year's Edinburgh Fringe. Also, all the fab dance people who were there, whether watching or participating.
- all of this year's plentiful sofa sessions at Dance City and sofas across Newcastle and, occasionally, Leeds. Not so many in London or Brighton, alas. We'll have to work on that.
- The post-One-Dance-UK-launch networking and party. And postshow parties, generally. Especially the one after Dane Hurst's final London performance with Rambert, which I missed. Damn it.
- The damp squib that was The Training Debate, where the unanimous response seemed to be "oh shut up".
- all the time spent catching up with dance people from around the country, mostly at The Place or Mabel's. Also, all the people I've met over the past year, whether in person or online.
- The Olivier Awards ceremony with Johnny Autin, plus a high five to Crystal Pite, Mats Ek and Belgian dance generally for winning (and to Michael Hulls for winning last year, because he's great).
- Lots of different strands of research about the dance industry, which means I still have many hours' worth of interviews still to be transcribed. Not so fun. But many more hours of interviews ahead, which is plenty of fun.
- Given all the logistical and funding challenges of project-based work, the recognition and prominence of independent artists Rosie Kay and Ben Duke in this year's Best Of roundups. Hooray!
- well, the pulmonary embolism, obviously, as well as consequently being chronically sick for the 10 months (and counting, sigh) since then. Being too sick to work really sucks.
- All of the gratuitous high-cost commissions which were justified by name and not standard of work - and which generally received unanimously dire reviews. The reviews should probably be counted among this year's highlights, though...
- not managing to see any of Johnny Autin's shows in Birmingham as the train fares were so freaking high.
- Certain Twitter trolls
- Missing Candoco's The Show Must Go On; I live in hope of a revival.
- RIP Jonny Ollivier.
Hopes for 2016
- the word "incredible" being generally banned.
- ditto for praise retweeting.
- a new Team Cloud Dance Festival.
- a very very very good turnout and outcome from our gender debate open space event on 10 January *hint*
- many many many more cat photos.
* from 1 December to 2014 to 27 November 2015, as December 2015's grants haven't been released yet.