Wales Dance Platform, Roy-Campbell Moore

April 23, 2015 by

In June this year, the Wales Dance Platform 2015 will take place in Cardiff and Newport, offering an opportunity to see a three-day snapshot of the vibrant independent dance sector in Wales. The Platform will open at Wales Millennium Centre on Friday, June 26 and will progress through a busy Saturday at Chapter, concluding on the Sunday with a packed day of performances at The Riverfront in Newport.


The Platform is the third in the series and is one of the most interesting arts events in the Welsh and UK dance calendar. Over three days, a total of 45 artists will present a feast of creative work which makes it one of the largest festivals of dance in the UK, showing the rich depth of the Wales independent dance scene that has blossomed in recent years as more and more choreographers migrate to the area to embrace the artistic opportunities here.


The Platform’s special identity is created by each of the artists selecting their own work to present which gives a dramatic and fresh energy to each event, as the artist has full control and ownership over what they show. This means the work is often informal, raw and heartfelt, offering a different perspective and energy than might be seen at curated festivals where artists’ work is filtered through the eyes of an Artistic Director.


For this year’s Platform, the work being shown includes solo and group performances, workshops, film, photography, debates, discussions and networking events. Based on last year’s Platform, the three-day 2015 event promises another extravagant dive into the further reaches of choreographers’ imaginations. Inspirations and influences include contemporary dance aesthetics, improvisation techniques, arthouse film, street, Indian and African dance, hip hop and dance-comedy for children.


The Platform is also embracing new technologies such as web streaming and social media marketing to allow the work of the choreographers to be seen on the widest possible public arena. The aim of the Platform is to generate a greater interest in the artform of dance and a greater awareness of the reach, depth and creativity that comes from across the whole of Wales, especially with many artists from Mid, North and West Wales coming south to show their work.


One of the aims of the Platform is to identify and reveal cultural identity through seeing a wide range of the artform within a Welsh framework, including work created by relevant artists who work outside of Wales. On the evidence of previous Platforms, the work will display characteristics such as being typically ‘British’, reflecting a diverse and multi-cultural political environment that carries a wide range of influences. Ethnic dance, popular social forms, high contemporary art-house and new technology forms will all be grist to the mill showing that while money for art in Wales is as tight as anywhere, this is not holding back new ideas and a passionate love for the form.


Naturally, dance in Wales is also tempered by a sensitivity to language, history and area, though this is typical of many smaller nationalities in Europe who have geographical or linguistic issues with larger neighbours. North and West Wales artists have their own distinctive energy, often informed by the power of the landscapes around them as well as the geographical distance from the more metropolitan South Wales. While in the past, Wales-based artists working in the North or the West were little seen in the South, the Platform has enabled more and more to come and show what they make. This new-found confidence from choreographers, inside and outside Wales, is one of the more satisfying aspects of seeing this wide collection of work at the Platform.


Another ambition for the Platform is to raise the status of dance-artists and enable a debate to take place that puts them at the centre of the picture through showing the range and variety of their work created throughout 2015. Political and provocative issues may be identified such as debating how working with tightly-controlled UK public funding either encourages innovation from the freedom to experiment, or self-censorship by having to propose target audiences and outcomes even before work is made. Although public funding is now a basic necessity for creating work, the Platform hopes to show artists’ work that is created for its own sake with a strong creative voice behind it. If work comes out raw or angry, dispossessed or provocative then the Platform will have achieved one of its aims. This is a debate that will go on during and throughout the Platform.


Another aspect of how dance survives and thrives in Wales is the supportive relationship between key arts organisations that work together to make it happen. The lead organisation producing the Platform is the Development Agency for Theatres and Arts Centres in Wales, Creu Cymru whose inspirational leadership and large network of dance-friendly venues has enabled dance-artists throughout Wales to operate in a sympathetic and supportive environment. Along with Creu Cymru and the three South Wales venues already mentioned, Coreo Cymru and Arts Council of Wales have contributed funding, resources, buildings and marketing provision to give the Platform the best chance of success. Looking forward into the future, a new international dance festival will launch in Wales in the Autumn of 2015, British Dance Edition will make its first Wales appearance in March 2016 and the Wales Dance Platform is bidding to be a long-term, annual fixture giving the artform and Wales-based choreographers a high profile on a national UK arts agenda.



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