Ever since I chose a career in dance, I had always wanted to one day become a Dance Development Officer.
A Dance Development Officer is a managerial position, overseeing projects and developing dance, in all of it’s forms. This could be fundraising, delivering, adapting or inspiring.
I was not quite ready to give up the self-employed choreographer life, however had recognised a need for slightly more structure, to not only encourage the choreographic and dance work that I was doing, but to also get more of a work/life balance.
A Dance Development Officer job came up at Citymoves, an independent organisation focussed purely on dance, that was 3 days a week. This was absolutely perfect – enough for some stability, but also enough left over to continue to focus on Kathryn Spence Dance and any other projects that may come up. I could not believe it when I was offered the job! What excited me most was Citymoves itself, and the fact that it is a purely dance focussed organisation.
It is an exciting time for Citymoves. They have separated from the council and become independent. Under a new director, they are developing Citymoves in a way like never before. Citymoves has re-launched. It has been controversial, it has been visible and it has put contemporary dance on the map in the North East. They have taken on a second space, allowing for more professional opportunities for artists in Aberdeen. This space shares a corridor with All in Ideas, a visual arts organisation, leading the way in shared space and practice. It has been a pleasure to meet artists working there too and I believe that it is a perfect opportunity for collaboration within the city.
Citymoves run 36/37 classes a week, engaging with babies as young as 6 months to the oldest participant we have- 93 years old! One of my first jobs was to manage the next Studio brochure for the Spring Term, and what went in it. Therefore, I attended lots of classes, and saw were there were gaps in the schedule, as well as listening to what the participants wanted.
We have now extended a couple of classes, changed some of the timings, and added in a few extras, such as Feldenkrais and Jazz. There is such a range, and I am loving being able to attend classes every night, which will hopefully feed into my technique, my practice and ideas for choreography for the future. We have also opened up free times in the timetable as ‘Open Space’, where professional dancers can use the space to rehearse, dance and meet people. I am excited to be attending these, and excited to be utilizing the studio. There are two studios: one at Triple Kirks, and a new space, The Anatomy Rooms, of the Marishcal College. This is where I had my residency earlier in the year.
My main role is to focus on dance in education, and I am managing a rather large Cashback for Creativity project, which aims to reach 10-24year olds. There are a range of classes for this, and so much possibility. I am making some changes, and planning for the future, of how we can work with participants to enable them to work together, to challenge them and to share the great work that is happening.
We will also be working together with Scottish Dance Theatre next term, and I am looking forward to working in collaboration with them as they bring their Early years piece to the city. There’s a team of freelancers working on this project too.
There are regular professional residencies at Citymoves, and I am excited to be able to attend the classes offered through these as well as seeing all of the sharings. It is great to have professional artists coming and going, and I look forward to all the opportunities of meeting people with similar interests as me.
Citymoves aims to provide quality dance provision for all, in the North-East of Scotland. I hope that it will also provide opportunity for me to connect with the young dancers of Shetland.
I am absolutely delighted to have gotten the new position, and am enjoying the challenges that it brings, as well as the autonomy in my day to day work. Another bonus is how handy it now is to pop on the boat home.
Photos: See Imagine Define, classes taught by Amy Park and Katie Milroy