The Beginning and The Explosion…

Candoco Dance Company was founded in 1991 by Celeste Dandeker and Adam Benjamin. The company developed from workshops led by Celeste and Adam at the Aspire centre, and grew quickly into the first company of its kind in the UK – a professional dance company focused on the integration of disabled and non-disabled dancers.

The company won much acclaim from the press, public and from colleagues in the worlds of dance and education and between 1991 and 2005 the company toured to over 50 countries, visiting Europe, Australia, North and South America, Asia and Africa.

Artistic Director Celeste Dandeker OBE, who retired in 2007, commissioned 30 new performance works for the company from internationally renowned choreographers including: Emilyn Claid (UK), Javier de Frutos (UK), Doug Elkins (USA), Siobhan Davies (UK), Fin Walker (UK), Darshan Singh-Bhuller (UK), Annabel Arden (UK) and Stephen Petronio (USA). This ambitious commissioning strategy was the backbone of the company’s success, catapulting the company into the mainstream dance world from the very beginning.

Our extensive Learning and Development projects and activities are of equal importance and the company is widely acknowledged as the World’s leading exponent of inclusive dance practice. Our groundbreaking approach to teaching dance in inclusive settings resulted in unprecedented levels of interest from schools, colleges and the wider community during our early years, and led to a proliferation of integrated groups across the UK.

Consolidation and Expansion…

This early explosion of activity created the demand for educational establishments to open their courses to disabled students. The Candoco Foundation Course in Dance for Disabled Students began in September 2004 and ran for three years. It was the first of its kind in the UK. Our Learning and Development projects and activities have continued to develop apace and we now work with over 12,000 people each year.

Co-Artistic 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 have brought a natural understanding of the company’s ethos to the role and are now making their mark on the future direction of the organisation. To date they have commissioned a very wide range of choreographers to give our audiences as diverse an experience as possible! These have included Hofesh Shechter, Nigel Charnock, and Emanuel Gat.

Candoco is proud to have consolidated our presence on the mainstream middle scale touring circuit in the UK and internationally. We give over 30 performances on average each year. Over the next few years we have plans to develop really exciting new work for these stages, as well as other kinds of productions that will allow us to work in different spaces.

The Future…

Candoco Dance Company has been confirmed as a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council England from 2012 onwards. This investment recognises the contribution Candoco Dance Company has made over the last 20 years to the performing arts sector by producing and presenting high quality, innovative works by disabled and non-disabled dancers.

It allows us to continue to commission choreographers to create excellent and profound experiences for audiences and participants that excite, change and broaden perceptions of art and ability, are bold and unpredictable, and place people and collaboration at our heart.

We aim to bring about change in thinking about dance, about ability, about who is allowed ‘in’ and how we interact with and create our worlds. Learning and Development sits along side performance and creativity in our plans. Both are equally important and support each other. Our integrated and coherent programme will create change in the dance workforce and will lead a shift in attitudes to dance and disability.

With a wealth of 20 years experience in creating excellent art; our goal is now to combine that innovative creativity with meeting external expectations and our own aspirations to lead a cultural shift in dance and disability.

We are touring nationally and internationally with different evening programmes as well as performing in festivals or as part of our participatory programme – do sign up to our mailing list to be kept up to date.