DDLG comprises dance professionals from core funded and project funded organisations as well as independents, working in all parts of the West Midlands. A membership of 30+ meet twice a year to explore the potential for collaboration, shared ambition and mutual support.

With a collective history of delivering high quality participatory dance projects successful in reaching large audiences, the impact of our work across the region has inspired many young people to seek further training and development in dance with significant numbers going on to work professionally.

More about DDLG

The exceptional skills and expertise of dance development practitioners are supported in providing high quality performance and participation activities for young people and communities, with joined up opportunities for skills exchange and professional development, contributing to establishing the West Midlands as a beacon of best practice nationally and internationally.

If you are involved in dance participation in the West Midlands and would like to join the group, please let us know.

Current members include:

  • 2Faceddance
  • ACE Music and Dance
  • Amy Dalton Hardy
  • Ascension Dance
  • Autin Dance
  • Birmingham Dance Network
  • Birmingham Hippodrome
  • Birmingham Royal Ballet
  • Black Country Dance
  • Brewhouse and East Staffordshire Borough Council
  • Coventry Dance
  • Dancefest
  • DanceXchange
  • Elmhurst Ballet School
  • Eloquent Praise Dance Company
  • Emily Charlotte Dance
  • Everybody Dance
  • Flexus Dance
  • Forest Arts
  • Frontline Dance
  • Highly Sprung
  • Katie Holtom
  • Laura Vanhulle Dance Theatre
  • Mercurial Dance
  • Motionhouse
  • One Dance UK
  • Rosie Kay Dance Company
  • Sampad
  • Shropshire Council
  • Shropshire Inclusive Dance
  • Sonia Sabri Company
  • Squirm Dance
  • SSP Events
  • Sydney Illsley
  • Warwick Arts Centre

Date: 16 September

Time: 2pm – 4pm

Venue: ZOOM

To book: Contact Susan Goodwin

Current Projects: #BeyondBorders2021

Beyond Borders is an ambitious region-wide participation Dance Development Leaders Group (DDLG) project that will bring together dance artists, aspiring young leaders, young people, digital artists and a variety of specialists to collaborate and produce an original work in response to #OnewithNature.

This theme was chosen by over 100 young people through a pilot #DanceConnect 2020Beyond Borders 2021 will focus on a creative enquiry approach to dance and digital collaboration and the unique experiences and perspectives of young people as lockdown restrictions begin to ease. The work will be premiered at Birmingham International Dance Festival (BIDF) 2021.

Beyond Borders aims to provide a high quality meaningful experience for professionals and young people working together on an equal basis, amplifying young peoples’ voices at a critical moment in human history and exploring innovative ways to create high quality digital and dance collaboration that are fully accessible and inclusive for young people and artists of all abilities, backgrounds and experiences.

We are thrilled to share the amazing artists, groups and young leaders who will take part in this inspiring region-wide collaboration:

Aaron Howell (Digital Artist)

Anthony Shintai (Digital Artist)

Martina Bussi (Creative Producer)

Rachel Liggitt (Inclusion Champion)

Zoie Golding (Artistic Facilitator)

Plus, specialist input from Rachel Freeman (Everybody Dance), Helen Mason (Freewheelin), Motionhouse, Wayne Sables (Digital Artist) and Orit Azaz (DDLG and Project Facilitator).


Dance Artists 

Anna Belyavin from Shropshire Inclusive Dance

Camilla Lloyd from Timmins Academy of Dance

Catherine Clissett from Brewhouse Arts Centre

Clare Wood from Dancefest

Jade Barton from Flexus Dance Collective

Jessica Barber

Johnny Autin from Man Made Youth Company

Lexy Garner from Ascension Dance Company

Lucy Wild

Nick Smith

Romanah Malcolm from Eloquent Praise and Empowerment Dance Company

Sara Macqueen and Chris Radford from Linden Dance Company


Aspiring Young Leaders

Beth Dale

Delphine Wise

Devon Nelson

Eden Andrews

Kieran Covell

Ella Stanton Warren

Katie Holtom

Natalie Haslam

Sharmila Biswas

Sunny Marko-Bennett

Sydnee Thompson

Helen McLaughlin

Daisy Kettle


Photo Credit: Anthony Lloyd

May – August 2020

In May 2020 we embarked on an audacious collaborative project devised in response to the ideas and priorities developed through the DDLG forum, and an action research project conducted by the group in 2019. It included input from the wider DDLG group and a dedicated project steering group, which includes 3 young people from Motionhouse Youth Board.

#DanceConnect, an online collaborative creative enquiry project, brought together dance professionals, young people and digital artists from across the West Midlands during Covid 19 Lockdown. Funded by Arts Connect and produced by DanceXchange on behalf of the wider regional network of dance participation leaders.  The creative process was supported by Artistic Facilitator Orit Azaz, a specialist in creating large scale, outdoor, collaborative performance.

#DanceConnect explored how collaboration between different dance forms and digital approaches can create fresh, exciting work. We brought together digital artists, dance professionals and young people, from across the West Midlands, in a dynamic creative collision uniquely responding to the the quarantine context.

Eleven dance leaders from across the region were selected to take part, working together in duos or trios to exchange practice and artistic inspiration from their homes. Alongside young people from their existing groups and four young dance leaders, they explored the questions:

  • What kind of dance collaboration can only be created when we can’t dance together in person? What new forms and meanings are possible?
  • What does high quality look like in this way of working?
  • What themes do we want to explore through dance over the next year?

The dance leaders were from across the West Midlands, including Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton, Worcester, Staffordshire, Shropshire and Kidderminster, with specialisms in Contemporary, Street, Martial Arts, Parkour, African and Caribbean Dance, Afrofusion and Musical Theatre and all leaders committed to accessible and inclusive practice.

The dance leaders worked in the following groupings:

  • Oliver Russell and Christopher Radford (Independent Artists)
  • Anna Lines (Translucent Dance Company) and Jamie-Lee Johnson (Jamie- Lee Dance Company)
  • Iona Waite (ACE Dance and Music), Faye Adams (LOCO Academy), Jade Barton (Flexus Dance Collective)
  • Johnny Autin (Man Made Youth Company) and Catherine Clissett (Brewhouse Arts Centre)
  • Rachel Liggitt (Shropshire Inclusive Dance) and Ashley Jordan (Ascension Dance)

Throughout the 5 week process, each group worked closely alongside digital artist, Wayne Sables, supporting digital artist Anthony Shintai, one of the four Young Dance Leaders shadowing the process, and specifically invited young people. Their work in progress will be included in a #DanceConnect Social Media Takeover  and their reflections and learning will be shared with the wider dance community in September.

Two creative challenge projects, #SelfTrio and #OneWithNature, were developed by young people for young people as part of the #Dance Connect process. These invited participation from young people across the region and continued the creative enquiry: how can we develop the language and choreographic practice of dance whilst we can’t be together, simply using our bodies, our phone cameras and our creativity.

#DanceConnect dance leaders

Christopher Radford 

Oliver Russell 

Johnny Autin

Faye Adams

Rachel Liggitt

Catherine Clissett

Ashley Jordan 

Iona Waite

Jamie-Lee Johnson

Anna Lines

Jade Barton

All of the creative content created by and with young people and dance leaders as part of #DanceConnect – including #Self Trio and #OneWithNature – was showcased as part of #DanceConnect social media takeovers in late summer 2020. A short film, created by digital artist Wayne Sables and telling the story of the #DanceConnect process, was launched in early September. You can watch all of the films here.

Our ambition is that the creative research undertaken during the #DanceConnect project will support the development of an audacious, ambitious, regionwide youth dance project in 2021 and 2022, celebrating the West Midlands as seen through the eyes of young people.

If you want to know more about this project, please contact Alexandra Henwood Head of Learning and Participation DanceXchange

Get in touch:

Please contact Susan Goodwin, Arts Connect Associate Director if you wish to join the Dance Development Leaders Group West Midlands.