News: Rayne Fellowships for Choreographers

Friday 26 May 2006

The four winners of the first Rayne Fellowships for choreographers have been announced. Adam Benjamin, Laila Diallo, Luca Silvestrini and Sue Smith, have been awarded an initial £10,000 each.

The Rayne Fellowships for Choreographers have been set up to support and encourage choreographers who want to connect more strongly with society, widen their intellectual and emotional curiosity, and develop their entrepreneurial skills. By helping them experience creativity within a range of contexts, the Fellowships aim to enhance the choreographers’ careers, and stimulate choreographic approaches that are performance and audience aware, outward-looking and engaged with the wider issues of humanity. The Fellowships are a partnership between The Rayne Foundation ( – which aims to engage with and adress the needs of UK and Israeli society) – and Arts Council England and are administered by Dance UK.

Talking about this new initiative Caroline Miller, Director of Dance UK said: “Choreographers need time, space and inspiration to develop and hone their skills. The Rayne Fellowship for Choreographers is an amazing opportunity which offers all these things. The initial £10,000 allows the winners time for research and development without the pressure of creating a performance, whilst the opportunity to experience placements in different areas of society will inspire and open new directions for their choreography. The Fellows can apply for a further £5,000 for a “Big Idea” at the end of the first stage of the programme. This could go towards a choreographic work, an entrepreneurial idea, or further research.”

Tim Joss, Director of the Rayne Foundation commented: “As our society becomes ever more complex and diverse, we see the growth of incomprehension, insularity and intolerance. Whilst organisations can help to heal divisions, enlarge sympathies and promote understanding, their work alone will never be enough. We need inspiring individuals to build bridges within our complex world. The Rayne Fellowships aim to help and encourage these bridge builders within the UK. In these four Fellows, we have found both choreographic quality and a powerful commitment to bridge-building”

Jeanette Siddall, Director of Dance for Arts Council England has confirmed that a second round of Fellowships will be available next year: “This is an exciting initiative, made possible through our partnership with the Rayne Foundation. The strength and range of the 46 proposals that we received demonstrates that today’s choreographers are actively engaged across society and that the Fellowships are offering relevant development opportunities.”

The winners:

Adam Benjamin is a freelance choreographer, teacher and performer. Companies currently performing his work include StopGap Dance Company (UK), Danse-habile (Switzerland), Remix Dance Company (South Africa) and Adugna Dance Company (Ethiopia). He has written extensively for Dance Theatre Journal and Animated, and is the author of Making an Entrance, Theory and Practice for Disabled and Non-disabled dancers (Routledge Taylor 2001). He co-founded CandoCo Dance Company in 1991 and was Co-Artistic Director. He led the company’s education programme from 1994 to 1998. He currently performs with the improvisational group 5 Men Dancing.

Laila Diallo is a freelance choreographer, dancer and dance teacher. Recent projects include choreography for Channel 4’s series How Music Works and the creation of a performance by 60 school children to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Diallo was a member of Random Dance from 1997 to 2005. She has worked as a choreographer and movement director for Scottish Opera, and is currently Assistant Choreographer for La Scala’s Dido and Aeneas. Her most recent choreographic works will be performed as part of Dance Umbrella’s Brief Encounters series and at Bristol’s QEH Theatre.

Luca Silvestrini is Artistic Director and Choreographer of Protein Dance. He is currently working on creating site-specific community works for Newham Arts Festival and a Big Dance event for Canary Wharf involving 150 school children from the five Olympic Boroughs. Silvestrini was educated and trained in Italy before moving to London in 1995 to study at Laban. He was a member of The Featherstonehaughs from 1997 to 2003. From 2001 to 2004 he was Choreographer in Residence at The Place and has been commissioned to make a new work for The Place Prize 2006.

Sue Smith is an independent dance artist, teacher and Director of Company Pyke. She was a company member of CandoCo Dance Company from 1992 to 1999, and has performed with Wendy Houstoun, Nigel Charnock, and Emilyn Claid. In 2003 Smith became Associate Director of CandoCo and developed the Foundation Course in Dance for Disabled People. Her choreographic credits include a film commissioned for Capture4 (2005/06), an outdoor performance for Dance in Devon / Arts Council South West (2005), and a project with a Royal Marine Commando and secondary school students which challenged perceptions of the armed forces (2004).


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