'We’re on a mission to get people active with dance'

Dance Inc.
Dance Inc.

Brighton and Hove’s award winning sport, dance and exercise festival returns to the city this weekend (June 17).

TAKEPART Festival takes place between Saturday, June 17 to Sunday July 2, showcasing sports clubs in the city.

Dance Inc. warm up

Dance Inc. warm up

We caught up with Emma Vernon Harcourt, artistic director of inclusive arts organisation Rounded Rhythm about her dance group Dance Inc’s festival performance, and why organisations like hers play a vital role in the local community.

How did you get involved with inclusive arts?

I’ve worked extensively as an Arts Education Practitioner since 2001, both in the UK and abroad. My passion is setting up collaborative and creative programmes that work to build bridges between diverse sections of the community. I took a five year break from my career when I had children, and found that when I came back, having relocated to Sussex, there were very few opportunities locally for disabled and non-disabled young people to engage with dance in the same space.

I won a development grant from the Arts Council and was able to set up a pilot last year with local city groups and after school clubs with mentoring support from local dance development organisation, South East Dance. From there I launched Rounded Rhythm, which focuses on participatory dance and theatre programmes. Dance Inc is one of our projects that works to integrate different sections of the local community. We’ll be performing at TAKEPART on Saturday, as well as running a workshop which will be open to everyone to try.

Tell us more about Dance Inc.’s activities this Saturday. What kind of preparation went into the performance?

We are thrilled and very grateful to have had the backing of Brighton and Hove City Council’s Active for Life Team who have provided vital funding that made all this possible.

Saturday’s performance is a great opportunity for the young people in the group to show what they can do. There will be 14 dancers, ten young people and four support staff, who’ve worked really hard. We’ve only had a very short time to develop and practice the performance, but it has been fantastic to see everyone working together and developing their ideas to produce a cohesive performance. They have taken the weather as their inspiration and come up with some wonderfully expressive choreography, so I’m pleased to see that sunny skies are forecast for our performance at 1.50pm.

You also mentioned that you will be running a workshop. What can people expect from that?

The workshop, which starts at 2.20pm, is really to give people a taste of what we do in a typical session. It will be light-hearted and fun – very much in keeping with the day. We’re on a mission to get people active with dance exercise; you don’t need any previous experience. The focus will be on games, positivity and fun for everyone. We work with young people, pensioners and everyone in between. It can be a really great way to break down barriers and bring people together.

Why are inclusive arts programs like this important for the local community?

We’re committed to developing sustainable and meaningful relationships within the community. The positive impacts can be incredibly wide ranging, from the health benefits of staying active, confidence building through performances, making new friendships and building a welcoming, inclusive space for fun and learning. Our projects encourage respect for diversity, as there are no boundaries to participation - dance should be for everyone to enjoy!

Rounded Rhythm presents Dance Inc at TAKEPART Festival
The Level, Brighton, Saturday June 17, 1.50pm performance, 2.20pm workshop. Free to attend.