I was born in Liverpool, trained at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London in the early 80’s then returned to Liverpool to develop dance in a variety of ways. Having set up the dance and mime department for Second Out Theatre Workshop (1986) a youth training scheme, I went on to manage the entire programme under the new name of 051 Media Training Limited (1991-92), overseeing the accreditation of the course with Chester University and managing 5 departments with 150 YTS students. Becoming Assistant Director at Cheshire Dance Workshop (1992-94), now Cheshire Dance, I produced, set up and delivered successful community dance programmes, teaching and choreographing alongside creating large scale performance projects and the first professional dance touring network across Cheshire supporting a variety of local artists and introducing works from the national dance circuit.
As Artistic Director of MDI (1994-2018) my passion for dance and how it can affect change in people’s lives alongside how as an artform it is appreciated through creation and performance was key to how I led and developed the company over many years.
A Graduate of Liverpool John Moore’s University (LJMU) in 2007 with an MA in Social Enterprise.
I received a BMOBO for MDI’s community dance practice (2010) and in 2011 was a runner up for Merseyside Woman of the Year. I received an MBE, awarded for services to dance in The Queen’s New Year Honours List (2012) and awarded an Honorary Fellow of LJMU (2014).
Over the years I have been instrumental in devising and producing large- scale events for MDI and building its reputation as an award-winning organisation, alongside setting up various other projects:
- Leap Dance Festival (1995-2018) presenting companies of national and international repute, developing Liverpool as a dance destination. In 2017 built a temporary dedicated dance venue to host the event under one roof and collaborated with Liverpool Hope University in 2018 to host LEAP in partnership with the university, working with Dr. Sarah Black to create Our Dance Democracy conference.
- Big Dance NW – produced Big Dance NW Link Up (2012) raised over £170,000 to create a major mass participation event for the cultural Olympiad working with 35 artists and 1200 performers.
- Decibel Performing Arts Showcase (2011) – Event Producer for Arts Council England, I produced the four-day event with 50 companies, 80 events and over 350 delegates, proved ability to work beyond home base of Liverpool with the event taking place in Manchester
- British Dance Edition 2008 – on behalf of the Association of National Dance Agencies (now National Dance Network), produced the four-day event with 42 companies, and 500 delegates from around the globe and a general public audience of over 3000.
- Co commissioning Akram Khan’s Bahok (2008)
- Cultiv8 (2007 and 2009) a festival of African and Caribbean artists featuring: Urban Bush Women (USA), Nora Chipaumire (Zimbabwe/USA), Tavaziva and Francis Angol (UK).
- Migrant Body (2006/7) developed a pan European dance project taking place in Liverpool (UK), Parnu (Estonia), Venice/Bassano (Italy), Sibiu/Bucharest (Romania), Rotterdam/Groningen (Holland). Supported through EU funding the project supported 15 artists to create work, perform and tour around respected countries.
- Community Dance Courses – devised and taught two community dance courses for Liverpool Hope University: a teaching dance choreography module for PGCE students 1999-2000 for Sports and Physical Education Department and in 2011-12 devised, delivered and assessed community dance module
- Guest lecturer at Edge Hill University – delivered fundraising module for dance department and more recently worked with the team at The Arts Centre to develop audiences for a number of dance events through marketing and PR.
I have been committed to inspiring people through dance, strengthening the dance sector and providing access and support to all those who engage in dance activity (artists, participants and audiences), and finding new ways of reaching those who don’t, for many years. I have delivered this by acting as a creative catalyst, promoting quality practice across communities where the individuals’ wellbeing and social sense of belonging has been instrumental in all that I have achieved.