Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

City Finding Its Feet

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

City Finding Its Feet

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tamzin Lewis

As Dance City officially opens its spectacular pounds 7.6m new building, director Janet Archer speaks to Tamzin Lewis about this exciting development.

In its 21st year, Dance City has matured into a big, bold and beautiful centre for dance.

Its new building on Newcastle's Temple Street on St James' Boulevard, is a creative base for innovative new choreography and performance, in addition to being a home to some of the country's most exciting dance companies.

It also runs the UK's first degree course in choreography and offers an incredible array of classes for babies to seniors: including street jazz, tango, breakdance, pop steps and dizzy kids.

Originally named English Dance Theatre and based in Darlington, the company moved to a converted warehouse on Newcastle's Peel Lane in 1985.

Dance City's director, Janet Archer, said: "The vision was to create a community dance centre for anyone who wanted to dance, also offering an education programme." She took on the directorship of Dance City when it was awarded National Dance Agency status in 1991.

Janet, from Heaton, Newcastle, said: "When I first came to Dance City it was quite quiet. The most important thing was to fill up the building with as much dancing as was humanly possible.

"The philosophy was to have local children dancing alongside the world's best dancers and choreographers and always having fun. We wanted both community and high quality performance work, so that people could learn and engage with each other through dance."

Explaining how things changed through the 1990s, Janet says that there were too few artists in the North-East to drive the kind of imaginative dance projects she wanted to make available. So what changed? "It has a lot to do with that Angel in Gateshead," she laughs. "We have benefited from the whole cultural renaissance of the region. There is a different attitude towards culture. A different attitude to opening the door and going somewhere they haven't been before."

The North-East's dance audience is growing rapidly, which Janet attributes partly to the Theatre Royal's late chief executive Peter Sarah, a passionate advocate of a strong dance programme and builder of a solid audience base. …

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