Shetland Summer

Shetland is my favourite place in the world. And dance is my favourite thing to do in the world. So I combined the two, in partnership with Shetland Arts.

The Summer sessions began with Dance Intensives, aimed at ages 11 and up. There was a beginner and an intermediate session, and together we made a dance film (screen dance) and a choreography. Check out the beginner’s and intermediate’s films.

Shetland LIfe

I was lucky enough to be interviewed for Shetland Life, a tremendous Shetland magazine that looks at the life’s of islanders and what it is like to be from or on Shetland. This was great for publicity, and I very grateful for their coverage. 3A1A33343A1A3276
The days are full on. With technique, creative tasks and choreography to get through, and I was amazed at the perseverance and dedication all the young people showed. There were returners from last year, and newbies too, and together we danced and had some fun!

3A1A3345“Kathryn worked collaboratively with the local dancers to ensure all have ownership of the pieces created, using a combination of her choreography experience and ideas from participants. This was indeed an ideal opportunity to get involved with the creative process and to have ideas heard and put into dance.
The beginners and starters were up first. This is, indeed, dance at an intensive level and the young dancers coped with it admirably.”

Just Dance Poster FINAL

The films and the choreographies were shared at the Just Dance Showcase, in Mareel’s main auditorium. And to my delight, this was an incredibly busy event – a sell out! Dance is so accessible on the Scottish mainland; there are youth companies a plenty and dance classes to attend and performances to view. Dance is part of the Scottish school curriculum and I believe it is important for young people to access quality provision, and that this can directly impact their learning capacity as well as benefitting their learning on the Curriculum for Excellence. There are a few, great privately run dance schools in Shetland, and it was a real pleasure to see the amazing work that they are getting up to. ‘Just Dance’ aims to bring dance together, and it does just that. We bowed all together at the end of the show, which was a real marvel, and an opportunity to thank the teachers, the pupils and all of the work that has gone in to putting on such an extravaganza.


It is so important that dance happens in Shetland. There is a want for it, and I am always delighted when Shetland Arts employ for freelance for the Summer Dance Intensives, and provide a performance opportunity for myself, and other local choreographers and dance teachers to present work. It doesn’t just provide opportunity for us, but it also allows locals to view contemporary dance in an accessible manner (alongside community works) and brings artists to Shetland. The dancers loved visiting the islands, and we were lucky enough to be taken out sailing (Thanks Geordie!). We may have also got a taste of the local nightlife too!!

Shetland sailing 2

Shetland parents

The whole team – dancers and parents alike (a big thank-you to my parent’s wonderful hospitality!)

“There were moments of balance and tension, with two dancers at one point falling towards each other and each catching the other. This was an experience, a shared journey of emotions and intimate knowledges. I have seen many fine experimental dance groups in my time, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, dancing to the music of Steve Reich. I’d put tonight’s experience of the Kathryn Spence dance troupe up there with these greats. It was a memorable finale to a memorable night. A very appreciative ‘well done’ to all those who had taken part in Just Dance. More of this, please.”

Shetland review

All quotes from Jeff Merrifield from his review for The Shetland Times.


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