Tips & Tutorials: Setting up a Dance Company - Chantry Dance Company

Tips & Tutorials: Setting up a Dance Company - Chantry Dance Company

I asked Rae Piper, from Chantry Dance Company a few questions about their journey. Here is what they had to say…

What would you say are the top 3 most important things to remember when setting up a company?

  1. To remain true to your mission, and not be beset by doubt by those who tell you that you can’t do something.
  2. To ensure your passion for your mission will not be dampened by tiredness, setbacks, hard-work, financial hardship, obstacles or anything else.
  3. To be informed and educated – find people who have expertise in the areas that you don’t, recruit their help and learn from them.

How would you describe the heart of Chantry Dance Company?

The heart of Chantry Dance Company is love. God has given us the gift of dance, and through that gift we are able to give love back to the world. This love can take many different forms – a narrative ballet that helps people forget their troubles for a while, or a workshop that empowers participants and helps them find a new way of expressing themselves, or a performance at a care home where some of the residents thought they might never see live dance again due to mobility issues, or working in a prison to integrate prisoners with non-prisoners and aiding rehabilitation….but all of this work is about love.

What has been your greatest artistic achievement to date?

Finding the courage to create work that we believe is important and has power to change people’s lives for the better. There are many voices out there in the arts world who will tell you that what you want to do won’t work, isn’t important, isn’t ‘trendy’, doesn’t fit into a neat box; the list goes on. Finding courage to ignore these voices and listen instead to your calling is the greatest achievement any artist can have.

How do you continue to make great work considering the limited funding available, and in relation to this, how would you advise young up and coming artists?

We have actively made the decision not to apply to the Arts Council for funding as we can’t reconcile ourselves with the fact that part of that money comes from the National Lottery (i.e. gambling), nor with the fact that in order to gain a grant you have to “tick” a number of boxes….something to us which is incompatible with the concept of Art – which by its very nature is indefinable, uncontrollable and too vast to be boxed. Instead, as we are a registered charity, we are working hard to develop a strong fundraising strategy. Moreover, we are also working to investigate several educational courses that provide an income that can be re-directed into the areas of the company that need financing – such as Outreach work and creation of pieces for the professional performance company. We aim to be as independent as we can.

The advice we would give to young artists is, if you want to achieve something badly enough, you will find a way of doing it that is not reliant on anyone else….although it’s a cliché, it’s true to say where there’s a will, there’s a way!

What are your visions for the future?

In the future, we would love to see the company reach more and more people – through our shows, our education work and our outreach work.

Regarding the performance side of the company, we would like to see our tour venues increase in number and to bring in other choreographers to create work for the company.

On the education front, we want to develop our relationships with community and schools’ groups in providing workshops and other educational programmes. We would also like to see our associate dancers go on to vocational training and maybe one day to dance with the professional company.

In our outreach work, we want to further our work and connections within the care and prison sector, and create strong collaborations and provide dance-based activities for other social care strategies such as inclusive sport programmes.

For more information about Chantry check out their wesbite.

  • Photography credits: (In order from top to bottom) Jim Markland, Iacopo Di Luigi, Mark Parvin, Iacopo Di Luigi
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