Dance United combines high quality contemporary dance with social concerns. At the heart of their ambition is an unshakeable belief that every life should have meaning and purpose, combined with a wish to release the positive potential within people who find themselves marginalised or whose potential remains, for whatever reason, unrecognised or unfulfilled.
Dance United believe that contemporary dance training and performance of the highest quality have the power to unlock this potential. But only when that potential is unleashed as a result of tightly focused and highly disciplined artistic endeavour. No hiding places, no short-cuts, no excuses, Dance United have consistently seen how this uncompromising approach has changed the lives of young offenders and street children in Ethiopia for example, as well as people from across the divide in both Berlin and Northern Ireland. Through their practice, Dance United endeavour to reach the hard to reach.
Dance United was founded in 2000. The organisation has a core team of full-time and part-time members of staff and regularly work with freelance dance artists. Since Dance United launched its award-winning Academy programme in Bradford in 2006, over 200 young offenders completed the programme. Many have not reoffended and have gone on to further education, training or have entered the workplace. Dance has transformed their lives. As well as transforming lives, the Academy programme has also firmly established Dance United as one of the foremost and innovative companies working in arts for social development today.
Many people know the organisation from the documentary ‘Rhythm is It’ (2004), where Dance United worked with 400 children from Berlin and the Berliner Philharmoniker under the leadership of Simon Rattle. Dance United’s film production ´Destino´ (2009) was shown at ICAF 2011. This production focused on the life of Ethiopian dancer Junaid Jemal Sendi (a formal street child). Junaid also performed live at ICAF. At ICAF 2014, Dance United choreographer Carly Annable Coop presented the company’s latest documentary about a recent project with psychiatric clients.