• Zosia Jo

Furthest West

So here I am in the middle of nowhere...

Everyone thought I was crazy. Why would an artist move out of a cultural hub like London, and go as far west as it is possible to go without chartering some kind of vessel? Well the answer is obvious- for a job. Being offered the role of dance development coordinator was too tempting to pass up. Salary you say? Half the rent? House by the sea? Sounds great. And it is. I'm in a challenging yet rewarding part time post, with free time to develop my own practice and the company, Joon Dance. I've been been given artist in residence status in a fantastic theatre. I've got the financial and creative freedom I could only dream of in London. I go for long walks and breath fresh air. There is only one problem. I'm all alone. To find another professionally practising dance artist I have to go as far as Swansea (70 miles and 1 hour 40 minutes) and even there there's only one that I know of! It’s not a case of being a big fish. It’s a case of being a goldfish with a tank of my own. Don’t get me wrong, I'm not complaining; I'm just saying things have got to change.

For one thing, kids here don’t have the same opportunities as kids in cities. Only the ones with parents willing to drive miles to dance classes (with fuel prices as they are no mean feat) are able to take advantage of what’s on offer. Meanwhile very few people even know what contemporary dance is, let alone that it’s a good idea to go see it at the theatre. How about if they want to study dance at uni? Well even if they manage to get their technique up to scratch who's going to tell them about what courses are on offer and what they need to go to get there? So that's where I come in. The organisation I'm working with, Arts Care, has made massive headway in the last five years in terms of community dance. There are street, jazz and creative kids classes and loads of great projects. But how about professional dance practice? And how about contemporary dance and technique training? What can I do to increase audiences at my home theatre for wonderful companies like Earthfall, who performed to a tiny group last season, not to mention my own work? How can I instigate change?

Well that’s just what I am setting out to do. It is not going to be easy.

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