The Monthly interviews Nicola Curry, Artistic Director of Maiden Voyage Dance – Part 3 –The Pandemic and Beyond

What happens when the Pandemic hits?

When the pandemic hit we had just finished a double bill of performances, “Brink” and “The Here Trio” and we were about to start a new programme of work around April of that year.

We had a number of outreach programmes; the Move Fit programme, a health and well-being programme which was going into schools. That had to be put on pause. We had a Belfast Movement Choir programme which also went on pause.

We did move some of our work to a digital format, and we tried to keep some programmes going with ZOOM classes or for Move Fit we would record videos and send them to schools so that children could still participate.

With our commissioning work, there was a programme called Match Make where we invited a dance artist to work with a collaborator from a non-dance discipline and the aim was to produce a short film piece. We commissioned 8 of those and that was a new arena, a new area of work, that we had very little experience of working in. It was also a new experience for a lot of the artists we were working with as well.

How did that work out?

That was definitely a learning experience for the company, and the artists involved said it opened up new ways of working, allowed new partnerships and creative relationships to form. The suite of films have been very successful and have been shown by the British Council in China as part of a festival there, and in India as well.

The other commissioned work we had planned had to be rethought. A project called “Turnabout” was created entirely during strict covid protocols with distance between the performers and no touching .  This was presented as a film,  initially in 2021. and then later the company  brought that back as a live performance for the Belfast Children’s Festival in 2022.

Where to Now?

We are returning to live performance and bringing to fruition some work that initially received seed commission support during Covid. In the Spring we will have a new piece, an installation performance piece by local dance artist Clara Kerr and we will have a new Dance Exposed piece, a short piece by a guest choreographer.

We commission local and international choreographers, so this will be the first time in a number of years we can invite an international guest choreographer to Belfast.

Do you think the situation with Dance post Covid is healthy?

What has been really lovely over the last few years is the number of dance artists who came back to Belfast to base themselves here. And that will help the sector grow and flourish. As a company it is always wonderful to have artists working locally that we can commission work from or who we might work with us as dancers.

As a company approaching its 21st anniversary, Maiden Voyage is having a moment of reflection. We have done a substantial amount of work over 21 years that has developed the company, developed audiences for dance and benefited the wider dance sector in terms of employment and professional development opportunities.

We are excited to continue to offer discoveries in dance with, by and for artists, audiences and participants, hopefully for many more years to come.

See more of the work produced by Maiden Voyage Dance here:

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.