This Sunday 25 November, Candoco Dance Company will perform on Strictly Come Dancing, with a short group piece integrating our dance artists with the Strictly Pros in a new choreography by Arlene Phillips, Jason Gilkison and Trent Whiddon. In this short blog, Candoco's Artistic Co-Directors, Charlotte Darbyshire and Ben Wright, describe the significance of this opportunity to the company.
As a repertory dance company, with learning and inclusive practice at its heart, we are committed to exploring and presenting a diverse range of dance performance, in a variety of contexts, for as wide an audience as possible.
This invitation from the BBC to perform on its flagship show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ offered us an opportunity to do exactly that. This process has also prompted us to pause and consider some of our core values of experimentation and collaboration. This is fundamentally about engaging with the untried, of exploring new territories and the space between one art form/person/organisation and another.
The BBC publicly recognises that diversity and inclusion are commanding principles of their institution and over the years Strictly has steadily increased a disability presence on the show with appearances by Paralympic athletes Jonnie Peacock and Lauren Steadman and the former Royal Marine medic and war veteran Cassidy Little.
At its heart Strictly has a similar heartbeat to Candoco, we embrace dance in all of its iterations. The opportunity to share our expertise on this platform was an exciting venture. As former Candoco dancer Rick Rodgers succinctly said to us; “The more we get disability into mainstream view the more readily acceptable it is and the more you can combat the misconceptions and abuses that every day disabled people are facing.”
Crucial to the collaboration was the choice of choreographer, so we invited one of the company’s patrons Arlene Phillips to oversee the project. As a choreographer Arlene has already worked with two of our dancers to create the duet You and I Know and holds a dual understanding of our own practice and that of the ‘Strictly world’. In a statement about the Strictly piece Arlene said; "My vision is that the dancers are drawn together by a strange force from across the universe; fighting, playing, loving."
This Sunday, Candoco Dance Company will show a snapshot of who we are and what we do in front of a wider mainstream audience of 10 million people. We hope that they’ll be intrigued to find out more about our work.
Charlotte and Ben
Artistic Co-Directors, Candoco Dance Company,