Feature: Introducing British Dance Edition London 2012

Tuesday 3 January 2012 by Carmel Smith

Ilona Jäntti

On the first weekend of February 320 programmers and producers from around the world will be coming to London for the biennial event which show cases the best of UK dance. As the deadline for registration approaches (Mon 9 January) Kate Scanlan, Project Manager for British Dance Edition London 2012 tells us more about the event which presents a packed programme of dance across several London venues…

So what’s British Dance Edition all about?
British Dance Edition is the UK’s main dance trade event. It’s a great opportunity for promoters from across the UK and the globe to come to the UK and see a whole range of work from the small to large scale, installations and in many different genres. It’s an initiative of the National Dance Network and is supported by them, Arts Council England and the British Council. The event is full of great networking opportunities and the chance to see 35 shows in four days!

When it’s been held in different regions around the UK, one organisation has usually been responsible for coordinating it. How’s it working in London?
London is different than previous editions. Yes in the past one organisation produces the whole event, so in 2010 it was DanceXchange in Birmingham. For 2012 a consortium of key London dance organisations pitched to host the event: Dance Umbrella, East London Dance, Greenwich Dance, ROH2, Sadler’s Wells, Southbank Centre, The Place and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (Laban Theatre). My role is to work to these eight partner organisations and make the festival happen!

What are the challenges of it taking place over several venues?
This is the first festival I’ve produced that is over multiple venues in different parts of a city. London brings its own complexities due to the sheer scale of the city. Transporting 320 delegates across London at the start of the Olympic year and ensuring that the event runs to time is probably my largest challenge. One of the plusses is that because all the venues are part of the consortium there is a real understanding of the event and its requirements across each of the organisations which really makes it much easier to get things done.

How has the programme been chosen?
This is the first British Dance Edition with a fully curated programme. Artists were recommended by the Consortium in consultation with the National Dance Network, British Council and other key promoters. There was a really positive and lengthy series of discussions about the programme that took place between January and October 2011. The resulting programme is a reflection of the wide range of work at all scales and genres that is being made in Britain today.

Give us a few random picks…
Well there is so much. If I had to pick three it would be:
Champloo’s White Caps; I’m really excited to see it. Wilkie Branson is a really interesting a fresh artist. When I was at Breakin’ Convention I got to know him and his work.
Illona Jantti’s Muualla/Elsewhere; again a more emergent artist. I saw her show on DVD and fell in love with it. I can’t wait to see her fusion of animation, ariel work and dance in front of me in the theatre.
• Finally, I guess it would be Russell Maliphant’s new production The Rodin Project is personally really exciting for me. I’m a fan of Rodin, Russell and have worked with most of the dancers in the cast

Who can come to British Dance Edition?
There are limited delegate places for the 2012 edition; this was a conscious choice to enable delegates to see all the work that has been programmed. However, it does mean that we have less capacity than in previous years. The priority is for those actively booking and presenting professional dance and/or commissioning new work by artists. The purpose of an event like this is to make a positive impact on increasing the amount of dance that tours. Several performances are open to the public though – including Richard Alston Dance Company & National Dance Company Wales at Southbank Centre (Sat 4 Feb) and Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, Hofesh Shechter & Candoco Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells (Thu 4 Feb)

Any other highlights you’d like to mention?
I’m looking forward to the Learning Symposium that we’re holding on Thursday 2 February. We are just finalising the programme at the moment but it’s going to be a great event focused on the impact of dance on education, health, diversity and the criminal justice system. I think that we often forget that the UK was a world leader in developing community dance and really developing outreach work through companies and venues. I hope that the afternoon will be full of lively debate and some great case studies.

For me also I think it will be great to see promoters from across the globe networking and meeting artists. For the event to be a success this is critical that people get to discuss the work, the context within which they programme and start to form new relationships that will lead to more British dance touring the UK and internationally.


Kate Scanlan is Project Manager for British Dance Edition London 2012. Kate was one of the founders of Breakin’ Convention at Sadler’s Wells and is freelance producing events, working with artists and teaching.

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