Integrated ensemble Indepen-dance 4 presents a triple-bill
Disabled and non-disabled dancers showcase new choreography
Hitting the road with 28 performers soon takes its toll, both on your stamina and your wallet, as Karen Anderson, artistic director of Indepen-dance found out.
‘We had such a big company, touring was becoming exhausting and difficult to fund,’ she says. ‘So we started a small ensemble as an experiment.’
Two years later, that experiment is about to embark on an eight-date tour across Scotland, performing three specially commissioned works. The 28-strong company has been reduced to just four – trained dancers Hayley Earlam and Kelly McCartney, and existing Indepen-dance members, Adam Sloan and Neil Price.
‘We had identified that out of the 28 dancers, both Adam and Neil had shown real talent,’ explains Anderson. ‘They obviously wanted to develop their skills, but weren’t able to do that through the more traditional routes, and would be excluded from having a more traditional dance career. So we had to fill that gap.’
Together, the four-piece ensemble will perform a diverse triple-bill featuring Christine Devaney’s Some of the Moments We Haven’t Forgotten, Ramesh Meyyappan’s Drifting, and Goldfish by Lucy Bennett and Chris Pavia.
‘We wanted high quality,’ says Anderson of her commissioning choices, ‘but we also wanted choreographers who are able to bring out the best in an inclusive dance group. It needed to be disability led, so that the dancers could really be part of the creative process – and that happened with all three pieces.’
Creating Goldfish in particular had a profound, long-lasting effect on the dancers. ‘That was really interesting for Adam and Neil, because they got the opportunity to work with Chris Pavia, who himself has Down’s syndrome,’ says Anderson, ‘and he became like a role model for them, and has inspired them to want to choreograph their own work.’
As with any company, entertaining and engaging an audience is the paramount concern for Indepen-dance 4. But as Anderson points out, they also have the potential to challenge expectations about who can or can’t dance.
‘On tour, we’re exposing this work to new audiences,’ she says. ‘and that’s really important to us as well. It’s about changing perceptions in the wider community. We don’t know who will see this work, or who we might inspire.’