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Funding boost for cutting-edge dance company that combines dancers with and without disabilities

14 Sep 2009

This content is tagged as Creative NZ .


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Touch Compass Dance Trust, which aims to develop aspiring dancers who have disabilities, for integrated performance events, is today celebrating its successful bid for funding through Creative New Zealand.

The funding, which comes out of Creative New Zealand's new Sector Investments round, will ensure the company can expand and deliver more integrated dance programmes and ensure more professional development for their dancers.

Artistic director Catherine Chappell said the injection of funds is timely given the company's aims to build capacity and broaden its horizons.

"This will allow us to really kick start numerous projects and ensure they do come to fruition. Primarily it will enable us to build and strengthen the company's infrastructure. For the first time we will have a dedicated team of people absolutely focussed on developing, driving and growing our programmes and performances."

"The newly created role of general manager means as artistic director I can get on with developing our artistic direction and creative edge that the company is renowned for," said Ms Chappell.

North Shore parent Yvette Carol has two boys in their second term of Touch Compass's children's dance workshop said, "They enjoyed the classes from the start however when they performed at the end of the term and got to see the older students perform a whole world of potential opened up. Samuel has Down Syndrome, he's six years old and can't form a sentence coherently yet so I can only put my words in his mouth.

"I felt, in watching him watch the older performers, that he perhaps saw potential for himself in the future. He got an image of being capable, bright, entertaining, and an artistic performer, able to put across a vivid message of the joy of life without needing words, in a way that everyone there could understand and embrace along with him. It was really exciting for our whole family actually. This second term I notice both my boys use dance a lot more at home as well. They dance to the bath and outside in the garden. It's been very positive".

With a background in tourism and corporate communications and most recently private secretary tourism in the Prime Minister's Office Karen Fraser Payne takes up the role of general manager. Ms Fraser Payne said the funding recognises integrated dance as an art form and demonstrates an ongoing commitment to the development of inclusive dance in New Zealand.

Recent arrival to New Zealand Susie Tate, will lead Encompass, the dance education component of the company. Trained as a dancer, Susie was the director of the Foundation Course in dance for disabled students at the UK's Candoco dance company.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to build sustainable programmes and dancer capability. In the short time I have been with company, there have been endless enquires for more workshops, more professional development, more long term programmes - the enthusiasm and interest is overwhelming. In particular there are no regular dance training opportunities for aspiring dancers who have a disability. It means that we can actually create an even playing field for them by offering an extended programme and the chance to train with national and international choreographers.