“It’s been a fantastic two weeks of amazing dance content, being able to get to know our dance artists and educators that we have on our doorstep.”

A celebration of dance artists and organisations has occurred through an online dance festival, TeesDance Festival. For the past two weeks, there has been an abundant of dance content on the online platform, Instagram. 

The festival has been available completely for free thanks to individual artists and dance schools volunteering their time for the festival. As a result, the TeesDance Festival has been successful in profiling artists and educators from across the Tees Valley. 

The festival idea came from Amy Swalwell, from Stockton, who is a Dance Educator and Project Manager, currently on maternity leave. Amy saw her friends and colleagues working hard to keep young people dancing through the pandemic via online classes and thought whilst everyone was staying home and online, what a wonderful opportunity it would be to bring the dance community together to celebrate their work.  

“Covid-19 may have caused distribution to normal ways of working but that hasn’t stopped the dance workforce. They have adapted, taking classes online and helping our young people to be able to keep dancing and moving their bodies,” says Amy. 

During the fortnight of dance, the festival has championed these dance artists in the region, helping to profile those who are self-employed and vulnerable to the effects of the virus. Amy hoped by profiling them, it would be good to help keep dance on the agenda and give opportunities for them to continue work after lockdown within a new normal. 

The festival showcased fourteen dance artists, over the fourteen days. Each day, a different artist took to the TeesDance Instagram account to profile themselves and the work they do. The festival included a broad range of artists from private dance school owners, dance fitness instructors, to choreographers and movement directors. 

Founder, Amy stated, “From looking at the Instagram account, it’s easy to see that it’s been a fantastic two weeks of amazing dance content, being able to get to know our dance artists and educators that we have on our doorstep. I just want to say a massive thank you to each and every one of the artists for doing their take-over day. They have all given their own time to this to make it a success, it’s exceed my expectations by far and I cannot thank you enough for being part of it.” 

Each day of the festival bought something new. The line-up included Instagram Live sessions, of which there were: dance workshops, dance performances, a career talk and a marketing support session for artists. The Instagram Stories provided the opportunity for the artists to answer lots of questions, showcase their creative practice and pre-recorded performance work and allowed them to be observed working in a dance studio on a new piece.  

“We have had a really varied content, from a real mix of artists from answering lots and lots of questions, to seeing their performance work, to LIVE sessions as well as how they work it in the studio making new work. I’m absolutely thrilled with how TeesDance Festival 2020 has gone,” said Amy. 

If you missed the festival, you can catch up on the Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/teesdance/ with each ‘take-over’ story saved on the main grid.

Continuing the work of the festival, there is now a Tees Valley Dance Directory on the TeesDance website. This dance directory will continue to champion the dance workforce and to connect the dance community together. If you are a dance artist or educator and want to be listed, then get in touch at info@teesdance.co.uk

TeesDance as an initiative is going to continue so there is a louder collective voice for dance in the region and a focus on championing it’s importance as an art form. For more information, please visit the website at www.teesdance.co.uk 

The next series of blogs will be highlighting dance artists from across the Tees Valley.