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Successful artists awarded Dance City/ Gillian DickinsonTrust 2024 Residencies/Commissions announced

ByDave Stopher

Sep 22, 2023

The Dance City and Gillian Dickinson Trust Residency/Commission is a three-year programme during which six artists or companies, two each year, will embed their practice within the thriving dance community in the North East of England.

Dance City is today delighted to announce the artists who have been awarded the two Commissions.

North East touring dance company Fertile Ground is thrilled to be one of the recipients of the 2024 Dance City and Gillian Dickinson Trust Residency/Commission. The spring award will support two new creations; a collaboration between choreographer Patrica Okenwaand composer Quinta and a creation by choreographer Jamaal Burkmar who were in residency with Fertile Ground earlier this year.

Says Fertile Ground Artistic Director Renaud Wiser:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our company to showcase the talent of young dancers from the North East and support them in their early career. We look forward to this collaboration with Dance City and its team and to meet many of Newcastle’s dance communities at our performances and engagement activities planned for Spring 2024.

He continues:

“This opportunity contributes to Fertile Ground’s aim of creating pathways to creative industry careers, providing paid employment to a locally selected cast, and inspiring young dancers who gain experience and confidence surrounded by local role models.

During each residency period, the commissioned artists will not only be able to take advantage of Dance City’s studios and theatre to develop new ideas and present new works but will also engage with Dance City’s communities, including professionals, students, audiences, and participants across the region. Each artist will be provided with funds, space, and staff support to work with students, connect with the artistic community, and to develop their work.  

Fertile Ground – Renaud Wiser, Jamaal Burkmar and Patricia Okenwa  (Spring 2024 Residency/Commission)

Okenwa is a German-Nigerian choreographer, who trained at John Neumeier (Hamburg) & Rambert School and a former Rambert dancer. She works across dance, theatre, opera, film and AR/VR. She is collaborating with composer Quinta on a new work.

Burkmar is an award-winning choreographer whose commissions include VERVE, Dance Hub (Birmingham), Leeds Dance Partnership and Phoenix Dance Theatre. His work has a strong relationship to music and sits in many spaces (outdoor, theatre, online). Music and improvisation are at the heart of how he navigates a process.

Fertile Ground creates performances and provides creative learning opportunities to young people and local communities, with experience working with 34 emerging dancers and over 30 artists, performing to 10k people and engaging 5k participants through workshops since 2018. Fertile Ground’s ambition is to support the development of dance and contribute to talent retention in the Northeast.

The second successful award and summer residency/commission goes to Yewande 103.  

Alexandrina Helmsley started the company in 2020 as a container to combine dance, writing, film, collage and poetry.   There is an interdisciplinary approach that underpins what she creates – be that performances, texts, workshops or other holding spaces.

Alexandrina works in close partnership with Executive Producer Nancy May Roberts. As a duo, they are driven to enliven choreographic spaces, develop discourse and create atmospheres for movement-based, access-led practice across dance, arts and mental health. They are passionate about sensitive, caring, and inclusive frameworks with a particular focus on transforming the landscape for people of colour with long-term health conditions.  

Yewande 103 – Alexandrina Hemsley – (Summer 2024 Residency/Commission) 

Says Alexandrina Helmsley, founder of Yewande 103:

 “I am excited to receive this support towards not only making a new performance and film work but having the resource to continue working with and learning from wider communities of young people experiencing dance education.

This feels like a unique opportunity and quite the milestone in my ongoing practice around repair, care, and intimacy.  Thank you to Dance City and Gillian Dickinson Trust for enabling me to carve out time to fully immerse the company in creative processes so generously.”  

For further information on the awards and residencies please click here.