This morning the UK has woken up to a leave vote in the EU referendum. There are uncertain times ahead across the board - there are plenty of questions with unclear answers economically, leadership-wise and the list goes on. In Milton Keynes, leave took 51.4% of the vote. A place, where last summer, Milton Keynes Council agreed unanimously to "to initiate a process to take forward a bid for Milton Keynes to secure shortlisting to become European Capital of Culture 2023". What happens now in that process is as yet unknown.
So it seems to me that this is a prudent moment to pause for thought and consider what positive steps can be taken in the cultural community in MK going forwards whichever way negotiations go. With regard to the dance community specifically (simply because that is the segment which I know best) can we be inspired by the notion of being ‘stronger together’ to build our community into the future?
In Milton Keynes, we have an abundance of local dance and theatre schools; BTEC, GCSE and A Level dance courses; theatres, festivals, and professionals whether they be teachers, choreographers or performers. This is of course fantastic as there are so many benefits in bringing people together socially to dance, as well it being both a physical and creative activity.
Sometimes though, I worry that we’re all so busy and focussed on our own little territory of the dance market in MK that we forget about the bigger picture. Of course those of us working within this sector need to earn a living and so holding onto our participants, class attendees and audiences is highly important in enabling this.
However, is creating our own little isolated pockets of dancers a disservice to our overall dance community and perhaps even the dancers themselves? Is it possible for us to support each other’s projects without detriment to our own? Can we encourage inquisitiveness from students in exposing themselves to the influence of different dance styles both as audience members and participants to find and define their own preferences beyond the bubble of one syllabus, school, class or teacher?
I’m not saying that I have all of the answers, but maybe we can figure it out together. As a dance artist, I know how hard it can be fitting in going to class or catching performances, but I also know how important it has been and still is to my own development and career.
If we stop supporting events, they’re going to stop happening. It saddened me to hear last night that The Castle Theatre in Wellingborough is closing and likely to be dark for 2 years. This was one of the most local theatres to us regularly programming small-mid scale dance companies.
In July, it’s festival season in MK and there’s lots of dancing to be seen and done at MÓTUS, Milton Keynes Festival Fringe and IF Milton Keynes International Festival. If you’re not already aware of them, here are some events that I’ve picked out that I’m going to try and make it to:
Hopefully you might be able to make it to some of them too – let’s stay positive and spread the word across the dance community in and around Milton Keynes. Plus if you know of any other dance events going on please do shout about them - we can only support each other's events if we know about them!