A reflection on five years of RCD

I have a vivid memory of sitting in the audience in the Linbury Studio Theatre on the 13th of May in 2013, feeling very helpless. I had turned eighteen a few months beforehand and it was my first experience of watching my choreography from an audience perspective. My work was about to open Youth Dance England’s Young Creatives Scheme performance and my anxiety and lack of in the moment control made time tick slowly. 

The dancers performed with focus and tenacity and, once the short work had ended, the sudden rush of appreciation from the audience combined with the heartfelt determination that the dancers had performed with completely transformed my feelings of helplessness into a hungry responsibility to make this my life. It was euphoric. 

My biggest reflection of looking back on the two productions that I’ve worked on is that none of our achievements would have been possible without other peoples’ help, generosity and sometimes charity. One of my fondest memories is a response by Theo Clinkard to ‘I genuinely don’t know how to thank you enough’ when he helped me write my first Arts Council Application. His reply: ’Just do this for someone else one day’. 

Every bit of development and growth of my practice has been sparked by an artist or organisation’s willingness to have faith in me, champion my successes and bravely discuss things that I could learn further from. I’ve never felt negatively pressured by the risks that people have taken by supporting my work, and for that I am immensely grateful. 

The strongest foundations I’ve had in RCD’s growth have been the dancers that I’ve been privileged to work with. I am a firm believer that if I show love and appreciation to them, give them agency to present themselves as themselves and value their well-being above the outcome of a project, then my work will be left in very capable hands. The dancers I have connected with through RCD have just as much ownership over the work as I do and my gratitude to them for their contributions towards my learning are invaluable. 

Similarly, engaging with different dance agencies, venues and festivals over the last five years have allowed me to test, play, risk and learn. Close relationships with Dance in Devon, Pavilion Dance South West, Swindon Dance, Studio Wayne McGregor, Dance City, Dancin' Oxford and Plymouth Dance have given me a port of call in moments of challenge, people to celebrate with in times of success and many conversations to ask ‘what’s next and what can be better?’. 

Funding bodies such as Arts Council England and The Linbury Trust have consistently made RCD’s research, touring and outreach activities possible, with open and interested staff who make me truly proud to be contributing towards the British dance scene. Company Patrons including Susan Dalgetty, Andrew Chappell, Audrey Allen and Lucille Briance have had a dedicated interest in our development, never shying away from attending rehearsals and performances and supporting in whatever way they can. 

These experiences have not come without pitfalls. Overwork, unsuccessful applications and a lack of time and resources have all contributed towards challenging moments and I am very grateful for the wonderful mentors who’ve supported, guided and empowered me. These artists have amplified my own voice without drowning it out and I am immensely grateful for their consistent energy and willingness to offer support. 

It’s essential for me that my work is for its audiences as much as it is for myself and my collaborators. I am immensely grateful to every individual who has attended performances and workshops and for every post-show question, comment or lengthier conversation. It’s a joy to hear others’ voices and some of my fondest memories of RCD’s first five years are speaking to audience members who feel validated, entertained and provoked. 

I'm indebted to both my dedicated partner Faye Tan, closest friend Kai Tomioka and supportive mother Anne Chappell for their continuous generosity, love and support. Their energy and wilfulness has built the foundations for everything we have achieved and a bit of them is in every work that I make. 

This is a letter of gratitude to everyone who has helped me and my collaborative family along the way from 2013-2018. It’s been a privilege and I hope I have moved others as much as I have been moved myself. Whether you have supported our work since the beginning, just coming to it now or anywhere in between, you have my heartfelt thanks and I hope you are as excited about the next five years as I am. 

Company Dancers Past and Present: 

Iris Borras, Faye Stoeser, Francesco Migliaccio, Robert Anderson, Sabrina Gargano, Sharol Mackenzie, Kai Tomioka, Faye Tan, Olivia Roach, Jordan Ajadi,  Maddie Shimwell, Jack Thomson, Robert Robinson, Emma Farnell-Watson, Will Thompson, Alice Shepherdson, Fi McGee, Mica Bradbury, Duncan Anderson, Ed Myhill


Gianluca Vincentini, Samuel Hall, Neus Gil Cortes, Albert Dean, Kieron Johnson, Hannah Taylor, Shaq Livingston, Joshua Harriette, Anne Chappell, Kevin Clifford, Billie Harbottle, Zoe Fischer, Kat Collings, Simone Donati

Supporting Organisations:

Arts Council England, The Linbury Trust, Pavilion Dance South West, Dance in Devon, Swindon Dance, Studio Wayne McGregor, Dance City, Plymouth Dance, Dancing' Oxford, Rambert School, One Dance UK, Rambert Dance Company, National Dance Company Wales, The Point, Exeter Phoenix, Barbican Theatre Plymouth, Doorstep Arts, Chisenhale Dance Space, Hall for Cornwall, Pegasus Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, White Foundation, Bulfin and Co Solicitors

Past Mentors: 

Sue Smith, Theo Clinkard, Russell Maliphant, Chris Fogg, Sarah Dowling, Thomasin Gulgec

Company Patrons Past and Present:

Susan Dalgetty, Audrey Allen, Lucille Briance, Istvan Lengyel, Alison Cook, Veronica Tuffrey, Andrew Chapell, Jon Bodenham

Additional Thanks To: 

Abi Malins, Anne Chappell, Judith Tomioka, Shu Tomioka, Daisy West, Julia Thorneycroft, Vicki Hearn, Bartek Woszczynski