Rachel explains things: Programming

Us five ProDanceLeedsers are constantly having four hour meetings on the minutiae of the programme of classes and how they are run. We wanted to tell you about some of the discussions we have been having recently, so you can see how we are making decisions.  ProDanceLeeds doesn’t exist without you. So please tell us if you have any suggestions, comments or criticisms and we will try to address them as best we can.

How do you programme the classes? Could we have more classes which give rigorous technique?

When we began the programme, we aimed to provide a varied range of styles from week to week, to cater for the diverse community we have in Leeds and the different types of work they do.  We therefore programmed a mix of physical and technical classes, improvisation techniques, classes that provide power and fitness and release based classes e.t.c.

So far, our teachers have brought their own practice, gained from working within the current sector.  The fantastic array of artists, each providing very different techniques, whether improv or Graham, have fed into the community’s artistic practice. However we have grappled with some quandaries that have affected the programming schedule.

For example, booking teachers has depended entirely on who is available when and with many artists working all over the world, with jobs that can be for months or days, it’s been hard to schedule them where it makes logical sense in our programme.  We now make it a priority to consider the programme as a coherent whole and ensure we don’t have too many classes of a similar style in a row.

Furthermore, we often programme through recommendation, but we are also approached by teachers who we have not experienced before. We are working on ways to gain clear information from teachers about what they offer, so that we can communicate more clearly what their classes entail.  That way you can make informed choices about when you come to class.  For those we haven’t met yet, we offer them a two day or three day run of classes, so we can see whether the community enjoyed them and decide whether we will try to invite them back to teach for a longer period. It’s always the best when you suggest people you like, as experiencing their class is often the most helpful way to describe it. We invite back the ones you want more of!

And finally, we are aware that some of you have requested more rigorous technique (i.e. sweaty/physical/technical exercises). We make a note of those teachers we feel fits this brief and will in future programme more classes with this in mind, whilst maintaining a varied programme.

Alternatively, Phoenix Dance Theatre also sometimes open their classes for a limited number of people, at particular times.  You have to send a C.V. to them in advance. These classes are £4.  If there is a week where you feel that you are in need of a different class, then this is another option.

Can we have Ballet classes?

The reason we did not include a regular ballet class in the pilot was because of clarity in the idea for the project, or in other words we needed to keep the classes specific to contemporary so we could make a clear case to get funding. We have made a conscious effort to bring you ballet in this development phase. Booking these teachers can be difficult due to their schedules, but we plan to programme challenging, strengthening, ballet classes for contemporary dancers more often in future.

Can we have Yoga classes?

Again, we haven’t asked for funding to provide yoga classes because there are many yoga classes available in the city already and we were unable to make a strong case for it being something that we provide.  However, we know that this can be very expensive for freelancers.  Aside from a one off, Yoga for Dancers two days, we can’t take this under our remit at the moment, BUT we have found a way to make it easier for you to access! See YogaHero friends....

Can we have two classes a day?

We love the idea of two classes a day. But this one unfortunately is dictated by funding.  To ensure regular provision of classes over a longer period of time, we made a choice to provide one class a day over a year, instead of two classes a day over six months.  This meant we have been able to cement ourselves in the dance landscape of Leeds and help to solidly build a community which we hope stay in the city for the long term.

Also, the people who are based here are very busy trying to stay afloat in other jobs both in and out of the dance industry, that impact upon their ability to come to class. So although we have over 270 of you on our books, our average number of attendees per class is around 7. The average attendance isn’t big enough yet for us to justify two classes.  With a bigger pool of people in the region coming to class consistently,  in the future we may be able to argue the case that we need two classes a day, but at this point, it would potentially make the project unsustainable.  We didn’t want to take the risk of losing the one class a day we already have and so made the call to keep it to one.

We’ll be giving you more updates on this blog over the coming weeks, but remember we are always open to your suggestions and happy to talk through any ideas you may have. Please get in touch!