Wednesday 25th January 2017, 10:00am Winners announced for Northern Connections, a platform for emerging talent in the North

Six emerging dance artists and choreographers based in the North of England have been selected from over 50 applications to take part in the Northern Connections programme 2017. Following a call out, shortlisting and interview process, the successful applicants are: Akeim BuckKeira MartinDaniel PhungJoseph Reay-Reid; Lydia Cottrell and Sophie Unwin of 70:30 Split; and Kate Cox, Sofia Edstrand, Rachel Fullegar and Rebecca Holmberg of Gracefool Collective.

Northern Connections is a Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) professional artist development programme providing studio residencies and bespoke mentoring and marketing support, enabling the choreographers to develop their work and perform it at NSCD’s Riley Theatre. The project, delivered in partnership with Spin Arts and Yorkshire Dance, will support a total of twenty artists; the choreographers involved, and fourteen dancers/artistic collaborators.

Northern Connections is part of a wider Connections programme, funded by Arts Council England, which includes the programming of four works from internationally acclaimed European dance artists who will perform at Riley Theatre in 2017. The aims of the Connections Programme are to support artist development and talent retention in the North, and to enrich the dance experience for audiences in Leeds and the region.

Award panellists Janet Smith MBE (NSCD Artistic Director and Principal), Tanya Steinhauser (Artist Development Producer for Yorkshire Dance) and Sarah Shead (Creative Producer and founder of Spin Arts) were very pleased by the response to this artist development opportunity.

“I’m delighted that the call-out for applications attracted such wide interest, not only regionally but internationally. Now in its second year, Northern Connections can play a significant role in nurturing talent and artist development in the North. Huge thanks to our partners, Spin Arts and Yorkshire Dance, and for our G4A Arts Council funding for making this professional development opportunity possible.”
Janet Smith MBE, NSCD Principal & Artistic Director

The performances will be in the form of two triple bill showcases on April 27th and September 27th 2017, each followed by a ‘meet-the-artists’ post-show discussion opportunity.

The April showcase will feature solo work created and performed by Akeim Buck, who describes himself as ‘a Jamaican born, British raised artist who thinks globally’, a duo by Keira Martin, exploring sibling relationships and family, performed with her sister Sioda Martin, and a trio choreographed by Daniel Phung, whose choreography fuses contemporary and urban dance styles.

Akeim said of his work:
“I will develop the piece to tell a story expressing how inseparable we are as people. No matter where we are from or where we are at. This opportunity to me means a time where I am trusted as an independent emerging Artist to create something from my own fruition.”
Akeim Buck, selected Northern Connections artist 2017

Featured in the second showcase on 27th September, Warrington-based Joseph Reay-Reid’s choreography will examine the nature of escapism, following three characters, in a work deeply rooted in Northern working class culture. 70:30 Split will explore male physicality and crowd mentality, as Lydia Cottrell and Sophie Unwin present a duet for two male performers, and Gracefool Collective will wrestle with the social expectation for ‘coupling’.

Connections takes best advantage of NSCD’s Riley Theatre venue, facilities, staff expertise and partnerships to test an evolved professional development and performance programme that addresses overlapping objectives to nurture emerging artists, support the development of dance in the North and provide programming to connect the North to Europe and beyond.