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Ode To A Website

Over five years ago, Arts Professional magazine approached me about "the sites I wouldn't be without". Five years later, those have been distilled down to two websites, both in their own states of flux: Article19 tweeting today to announce "future changes", and last week's impromptu and unanticipated announcement that Carmel Smith, the erstwhile editor of London Dance for over 15 years, being made redundant with immediate effect.

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Best of 2015

jump cat 1Many 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.

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The Gender Debate At Rambert

rambertdebateThe gender debate in contemporary dance is hardly new and has not really explored in depth, but when Rambert offered their programme for their #RambertLive events, including a debate on not only female choreographers, but on how to provide opportunities and commissions for them, that seemed worth travelling 600 miles roundtrip for. In one day, no less. With blood clots.

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The Beauty of Portfolio Careers

dollyDucks and water. Cats and milk. Tequila and lime. Chips and gravy. The Place and Mabel's. Yorkshire Dance and The Wardrobe. Beer and pretty much everything. Me and sofas. Some things just go together so naturally well. The same goes for the terms "dance artists" and "portfolio careers".  

I don't actually remember the first time I heard the term "portfolio career": it's been an established and accepted fact of the dance industry for that long, and it's a topic I discussed with Newcastle College's dance students a few weeks ago. I talked about how rich and rewarding the work is yet how crap the pay is, and they asked why people do this: because we love it. But also - which I didn't tell them - because we have no choice.

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We Need To Talk About Unions

grumpy-cat-nicki-minajA few weeks ago, there was a huge outcry about the (then) latest audition notice from Royal Opera House, and the pittance offered as payment; Article19 originally drew attention to it, and refused to publish the notice, and the grumblings grew from there.

As we all know, the situation arose because Equity agreed a fee with ROH which has turned out to be embarrassingly and insultingly low, so now Equity has had to have a rather awkward conversation with ROH. Even more embarrassingly, ROH hasn't yet deigned to respond, but we don't want to talk about that in case we upset them.

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Feed TheImp!

A few weeks ago, Twitter notified me that someone from my high school was now following the @clouddancefest Twitter account. Curious to see what the @clouddancefest timeline actually looked like, I scrolled through it, to see that it was mostly full of tweets to Article19.

Online for nearly 15 years, for many people in the dance industry today, Article19 has always been there, either as a go-to place for auditions and workshops, the site's other features, including a rich video library, or the commentary on any number of issues affecting this industry we live in.

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