Typically uncompromising … a wild ride
Brilliant and bracing … gripping to watch’
Candoco Dance Company is the company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. We create excellent and profound experiences for audiences and participants that excite, challenge and broaden perceptions of art and ability, and place people and collaboration at the heart of our work.
We commission and produce work by world-class choreographers for our core company of seven dancers, which we tour nationally and across the globe. We deliver an extensive learning programme to provide access to the highest quality of dance, either as part of a developing career or for pure enjoyment.
Candoco offers unprecedented opportunities for disabled artists and participants to engage with dance, non-disabled artists and peers with a unique experience of the quality of working inclusively, and provides audiences with an exceptional view of dance. We reach audiences of over 18,000 and provide participatory and training activity for 2,000 people annually. In our first 25 years, we have toured to over 60 countries.
Candoco is a flagship organisation recognised for its commitment to quality and diversity. It has made a significant difference to the dance landscape in bridging the mainstream and disability sectors, encouraging both to think outside accepted norms.
Candoco is a charitable organisation that is a source of inspiration, support, and innovation.
Candoco Dance Company was founded in 1991 by Celeste Dandeker-Arnold OBE and Adam Benjamin. The Company developed out of integrated workshops at London’s Aspire Centre for Spinal Injury and quickly grew into the first company of its kind in the UK – a professional dance company focused on the integration of disabled and non-disabled artists.
Artistic Director Celeste Dandeker-Arnold OBE commissioned 30 new performance works for the company from internationally renowned choreographers including Emily Claid, Javier de Frutos, Doug Elkins, Siobhan Davies, Fin Walker, Darshan Singh-Bhuller, Annabel Arden and Stephen Petronio. Celeste’s priority was that Candoco should be programmed and judged as a dance company, not a therapeutic project. Her ambitious commissioning strategy reflected this vision and became the backbone of the company’s success, catapulting it into the mainstream dance world from the very beginning. In 2013 Celeste won the Liberty Human Rights Award in recognition for her work.
Candoco’s former Artistic Co-Directors Stine Nilsen and Pedro Machado were appointed as Celeste’s successors in 2007. Having danced with the company for seven and nine years respectively, they brought a natural understanding of the company’s ethos to the role and continued to push the boundaries of the definition of dance with bold and diverse commissions. They commissioned work from leading choreographers Emanuel Gat, Rachid Ouramdane, Wendy Houstoun and Javier de Frutos, restaged Trisha Brown’s seminal Set and Reset to include disabled dancers for the first time, and commissioned the UK’s leading disabled choreographers; Marc Brew and Claire Cunningham for Unlimited – part of the London 2012 Cultural Festival. Under their directorship they took Candoco from the Bird’s Nest in Beijing to the Olympic Stadium in London; performing at the handover ceremonies in 2008 and returning, alongside Coldplay, at the Paralympic Closing in 2012. In 2018, Ben Wright and Candoco founding member Charlotte Darbyshire joined the company as Artistic Co-Directors.
Candoco’s commitment to learning has always underpinned all of the company’s activities providing participatory and professional development opportunities alongside its live performances to widen participation in dance by disabled people and to showcase the quality and excitement created through difference. Widely acknowledged as the world’s leading exponent of inclusive dance practice, Candoco’s groundbreaking approach to teaching was a precursor to formal programmes including the Candoco Foundation Course in Dance for Disabled Students (2004 – 2007), and the addition of And Who Shall Go to the Ball? by Rafael Bonachela to the GCSE Dance Specification – the first time a work featuring disabled performers was included. Currently we have a partnership with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance that aims to ensure pathways for disabled students to prevocational and vocational training through to professional employment. Candoco’s In Dialogue strand hosts talks and workshops that offer an insight into our creative process and facilitates debate around dance, disability and aesthetics.
Our work is programmed across the globe – having visited over 25 countries since 2002. Our international development programmes present our repertory alongside intensive participatory projects, teacher training, mentoring and debate are having a significant impact, especially in places where disability rights is in its inception. Most recently we’ve led successful projects in Palestine, Vietnam and Armenia.
With a rich heritage of 25 years behind it and it unwavering commitment to quality and professional practice, Candoco Dance Company has led change in thinking about dance, about ability, about who’s allowed ‘in’ and how we interact with and create our worlds. Our coherent programme of performance, advocacy and learning sets standards for inclusive practice, broadens perceptions of art and ability, and provides an excellent platform to campaign for increased access and diversity in the cultural sector and beyond.