Surf The Wave waves goodbye

Three years after it was created by Pavilion Dance South West to initiate change in how dance is  showcased and toured in the UK, Surf The Wave now waves goodbye. The programme staged  

the first UK-focused dance showcase and connected more than 450 artists, producers,  

programmers and facilitators. It delivered 13 Intensives; 29 networking and programming  

events; supported 22 Seed Support projects and 10 Showcase Legacy Support projects as well as  provided 32 Go See bursaries and 43 Response Pot awards. 

Surf The Wave connected artists and programmers through events and workshops. It also 

provided 204 bursaries for artists and producers to cover time and expenses of attending  

networking events. It provided a safe space for artists and programmers to meet, to discuss 

issues and barriers that may be facing them, and to build more opportunities for dance to be  

presented in the UK. To this end, it also incorporated a UK Dance Showcase which allowed 

artists to demonstrate their work to programmers from all over the country and reinforce their 

touring potential. Through the programme, the power of relationship-building between artists  

and programmes became clear as new dance experiences were created. 

Surf The Wave’s commitment to demonstrating that dance doesn’t have to be presented on  

traditional stages has only become more important: as the new normal changes every day,  

opportunities continue to open up in new and unusual ways. It is with the skill and creativity of  

both artists and programmers that dance will be able to continue to flourish. Surf The Wave  

actively encouraged non-dance specialist programmers to expand their repertoire and explore  

how dance can work in different performance contexts. Dance is a small world and in these days  of division it is key to reach across geographical and artistic boundaries and build a stronger  

foundation for support and growth.

It was in the programme’s final six months that Covid-19 disrupted livelihoods, plans and tours. However, Surf The Wave honoured all the projects underway, some of which hope to complete  in summer 2021, and created a new programme supported by £1000 “Response Pots” which  enabled artists to reimagine their work and how to get it to audiences now. 

Artistic Director and CEO of Pavilion Dance South West, Zannah Chisholm comments, The Surf  the Wave programme explored ways of showcasing and touring small to mid-scale dance  differently across the UK. Many projects were undertaken by artists and programmers exploring  new models of working together and with audiences and the UK Dance Showcase was itself a  new way of showcasing independent dance. The website has become a place to find information  and insight into the ideas, processes and outcomes across all of these projects. The artists and  programmers tell their own stories. There is information to support the planning of future  showcases and tours. It is there for you to use. Do check it out.  

The Surf The Wave website will be maintained as a resource for artists and programmers alike.  Three newly commissioned dance films are available to view on the website. Familiar Struggle  from Keira Martin follows a woman born in Barnsley with an ancient heart, ancient tears,  ancient struggle and ancient fears. Marathon of Intimacies from Jo Fong and Anushiya Yarnell emerged from walking in parks and talking about race. White rooms, family, shame, power,  being heard, justice, presence. For Bent Wood, Theo Clinkard spent a night dancing in the woods to embrace the wilderness in all its complex, messy glory as a home for rural queerness. 

The legacy of Surf The Wave will inspire positive change and enhance communication within the  industry meaning that we will continue to see more dance not only on our stages but in all the  different places that audiences can be found. Its legacy lives on through the work of Pavilion  Dance South West who are established promoters of new talent and raising the profile of dance  across a multitude of sectors. Surf The Wave’s values of kindness, inclusivity, inspiration and  passion remain at the heart of all Pavilion Dance South West do. They will be hosting the  website and promoting all the work through their social channels. Feedback from, and action  taken by the artists, programmers and partners shows the value of the project – the  conversations held will resonate for some time to come.

About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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