A day in the life of The Dance Network Association: Two events in one day!


Hi there - I’m Lizzie! That's me on the right with the fabulous Gemma Wright, Artistic Director.

I joined the Dance Network team back in April as Programmes Coordinator - three days a week I am either in the office or hopping from project-to-project. Although I’ve worked in arts organisations for several years, this is my first time working with such a small team - but my my, aren’t we a busy, buzzing bunch!

We may only be half way through the month, but The Dance Network Association have already had a jam-packed, fun-filled July - with last week seeing two important events in one day, which included an early start, some fantastic performances and some special visitors.

Wednesday 10 July: Summer Dance Festival & a special Dancing with Parkinson’s session

The day started early, with the team meeting at 7am in Colchester. Being Colchester-based, this is an easy task for me - but the rest of our team are based in Wivenhoe and London, so their morning started much earlier than mine! Once we were all gathered, we headed off to Honywood School in Coggeshall - the host venue for our Summer Dance Festival. After setting up the Hall, we were joined by Honywood’s new GCSE Dance students who were fantastic assistants to us and the school groups. throughout the day.

Above: students from Alec Hunter Academy performing at our Summer Festival. Photo by the DNA team.

This annual festival brings together schools and teachers from our Learn, Share, MOVE! programme, for an informal sharing of their work throughout the year. This year, we also welcomed schools outside of the programme to perform and watch.

We were joined by the following groups: Honywood School, Belchamp St Paul C of E Primary, Lyons Hall Primary, John Bunyan Infant School and Nursery, Whethersfield C of E Primary, Alec Hunter Academy and St Peter’s C of E VC Primary.

The DNA team opened the Summer Festival with an energetic warm up, then welcomed each group up one by one to introduce and perform their dance piece, as well as welcoming feedback and questions

after they had danced.

Our very own youth company Dance Station performed their Front Commission dance as part of 1 Day, 1 Dance, 1000 Dancers - our schools mass dance programme.

Above: Dance Station performing at our Summer Festival. Photo by the DNA team.


We were also treated to a performance from students at St John Payne Catholic School, who have taken part in our ConfiDance project over the Summer Term. As part of the project, the students have been completing their Arts Award - and confidently taught everyone a few energetic moves from their Street Dance choreography.

After I led a calming cool down, the morning was finished with a few high fives.. and a lot of clapping!

Above: St John Payne Catholic School's ConfiDance group performing at our Summer Festival. Photo by the DNA team.

Once we had said our goodbyes to the groups, we swiftly packed up and headed back to Colchester for the second half of the day - a special session with our Dancing with Parkinson’s programme.

Above: Our Dancing with Parkinson's session at Firstsite. Photos by Steve Brading, www.stevebradingphotography.com

Our Dancing with Parkinson's programme offers monthly dance and movement sessions to those with Parkinson’s Disease and their partners, friends and carers. This month, things were a little different to our usual classes!

Firstly, we ventured out of our usual venue of Colchester Castle, and headed over to Firstsite - Colchester's contemporary art gallery that also plays host to a variety of groups within the community. The space was quite the contrast to the grand room at the Castle, but provided us with a beautiful bright space to share our afternoon of dancing.

Secondly, we were joined by some very special invited guests - eight of Colchester’s Councillors, and Colchester's Mayor & Mayoress Nick & Elizabeth Cope. They came along to take part in the class, find out more about how the programme benefits the participants and how they can support the future of Dancing with Parkinson's. Led by dance artist Karen Pratt, the afternoon saw us dancing and singing along to some classic songs and hand jiving in pairs, finishing with a cup of tea and some fabulous shortbread biscuits.

Above: Our Dancing with Parkinson's session at Firstsite. Photos by Steve Brading, www.stevebradingphotography.com

We also welcomed along Steve Brading, photographer for the Daily Gazette. who captured some beautiful shots of the class (including the ones above). We were lucky enough to be featured in the Daily Gazette on Friday (12 July), read the article here!

Above: Our Dancing with Parkinson's session at Firstsite. Photos by Steve Brading, www.stevebradingphotography.com

We are delighted to say that we received over £1,300 of donations directly after the session! We are extremely grateful to the following Councillors who pledged their support through donations:

Mayor Nick Cope, Councillors Terry Sutton, Simon Crow and Helen Chuah. These generous donations will now keep the sessions running into 2020.

It’s safe to say that Wednesday 10 July was a day filled with energy, positivity, fun and dancing - if that’s not a fantastic working day I don’t know what is!

- Lizzie

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