Meet the Team – Stacey Fowler

Stacey TDT.jpg

I have worked on Tea Dance With A Twist! since the very first event in 2016, first as a student practitioner and then as a trainee practitioner. I have thoroughly enjoyed, learned, progressed and being inspired from every single event. 

I look forward to Tea Dance With A Twist! every month because no two events are the same and neither are the people you’ll meet, mingle and dance with. The intergenerational community event is a live dance and music Tea Dance aimed for the over 50s. It is a lovely feeling leaving the Guildhall at the end of a Saturday knowing people have danced, sung, laughed and enjoyed some new company; involving themselves in a very unique and fun event with a welcoming atmosphere. 

I have personally gained so much from Tea Dance With A Twist! over the last 3 years. Not only have I gained qualifications and training in ‘Dance for Dementia’ and ‘Dance for Parkinson’s’ but I have progressed in my social dance community practice from a University student to a full-time dance community practitioner. The event facilitates for a range of ages and a range of abilities such as: people with Alzheimer’s Dementia, Autism, Parkinson’s, wheelchair users and physical disabilities. My experience and understanding of enabling dance and social opportunities to all ages and abilities is constantly progressing and developing, all thanks to Plymouth Dance and Tea Dance With A Twist! Tea Dance has been a big part of my progression as a dance artist.

The wellbeing and happy hormones ignite amongst participants, practitioners, volunteers and musicians throughout this wonderful event. There is no better feeling than seeing returning and new community members smiling through dance each month.

Stacey Fowler


Meet the Team – Lucy Freeman

Lucy TDT!.jpg


My name is Lucy and I am one of the lead practitioners for Tea Dance with a Twist!. My role includes greeting people, dancing and at times teaching short phrases that our guests can learn and try out. Most of the time, I feel my role is a lot about about having fun and facilitating a safe and enjoyable environment for those attending the events!

It is an immense pleasure to meet and welcome people who are attending their first Tea Dance with a Twist!, as well as build friendships with those who become regulars. Something I hear often in chatting to our guests is that the Tea Dance events offer a place to be social where previously they might have felt increasingly isolated or lonely. I love being able to spend time with people and hear about their stories. So often a song, a dance or a piece of music inspires memories for our guests and they are fascinating to hear about, and I feel grateful to have been able to share so many of these moments.

Building these trusting relationships is not just an absolute pleasure, but also a crucial part of our role. During his earlier events, one gentleman felt nervous to dance without his stick but was itching to take the floor and enjoy the music. Together we established a pace that worked for him, and these days his stick is nowhere to be seen (and his first dance is usually reserved for me!).

I can’t leave Tea Dance without a huge smile on my face, and seeing smiles on so many other people’s faces is even better! I hope to see you at an event soon! 


Meet the Team – Karen Parkinson

Karen Parkinson – Lead Dance Practitioner at Tea Dance with a Twist!

tea dance-12

Photography Credit: Kevin Clifford

I have been fortunate to have worked as a Dance Practitioner at the Tea Dance with A Twist! events since 2016. Tea Dance with a Twist! is my favourite day of the month! Every event is wonderfully unique, offering different dances, different people and different opportunities to learn. There are many people who return on a very regular basis, allowing friendships to form and loneliness to be combatted. I am so very lucky to have met some incredible people both on and off the dance floor. I have witnessed people coming in nervously on their first visit; not knowing what to expect, whether they are dressed appropriately or where to sit…then (as always happens) they are greeted by another lover of dance; maybe a volunteer, a member of the Plymouth Dance team or the person stood closest to them…and they realise they are welcome.

There are no rules, no expectations or requirements. Everyone is welcome.

A joyous environment where you can listen, watch, talk, laugh, dance with another, dance on your own, dance with friends or strangers.

I know of many people who have come to their first event alone, often feeling lonely and isolated. At subsequent events they have met with the people they have spoken to when they first walked through the door. This had led to friendships, meeting up not only at the Tea Dance with a Twist events but also for line dancing, badminton and walks. Promoting not only companionships and community but also improving lives through better health, increased physical activity, increased mobility and independence.

Tea Dance with a Twist! has also increased my confidence, in both myself and my ability to connect, facilitate dance and engage those around me. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to be involved with such a wonderful, positive and life changing event. Thank you.


Plymouth Dance Internships 2017/2018 – Introducing Chloe Brown

Throughout my three years studying BA (Hons) Dance Theatre at Plymouth University I have fortunate to be involved with various opportunities from performing at Falmouth University as part of a youth dance platform to teaching and assistant across Plymouth and surrounding areas with Exim Dance Company. I have also been fortunate to undergo further training with both Exim Dance Company and Plymouth Dance gaining a First Aid Qualification, Dance and Dementia Qualification, Dance and Parkinson’s Qualification and Dance Leaders Level One and Two Certificate.

Chloe brown 2

Since completing my degree, I will be continuing my training in the form of a six-month internship with Exim Dance Company and Plymouth Dance commencing the beginning of September through to February 2018. I am so excited to be continuing my journey into the creative arts industry, expanding on techniques I have developed throughout my three years at Plymouth University including delivering dance workshops in various different communities in differing styles and ages. I’m looking forward to working as part of a new team, learning various new skills such as administration and different ways of marketing and publishing through social media.

Chloe Brown

I have thoroughly enjoyed my journey so far with both Exim Dance Company and Plymouth Dance and I’m thrilled to what the next six months will entail; allowing me to grow as a dance artist.

Chloe 3



Chloe Brown



Plymouth Dance Internships 2017/2018 – Introducing Kaitlyn Howlett

For the past three years I have been working with Exim Dance Company and Plymouth Dance on various projects and opportunities alongside my degree. I am now delighted to be able to say I will be continuing to work with both companies in a shared Internship for the next six months!


I cannot begin to describe how excited I am to be kick starting my dance career with this internship, it not only allows me to continue doing what I love but it also means an extended relationship with two of the companies that I have believed in for the past three years. I know that our team is going to feel like a family and I cannot wait to be working alongside three other amazing women.

kH 3

This internship will provide me with valuable and essential knowledge that I need for my future aspirations of owning and running a company. I am excited to soak up everything I learn during this time in a hands-on process. I have always worked and learnt best in a practical environment and this internship creates the perfect setting to do this whilst still offering a support network if needed.  It feels strange to admit but I’m actually happy at the prospect of wrapping my head around funding bids and discovering how to start and run a project and who I need to talk to and what I need to document. All of these elements are things that a dance artist beginning their career may struggle to obtain and I am so grateful that I will be working in an environment that can provide an answer to these questions.


In addition, I am so happy that I will be continuing to teach and further expand my vocabulary and experience in a variety of Exim’s dance classes throughout the week. As part of this I will be continuing to work with ADAPT, Exim’s inclusive youth group, meaning I can not only aid this wonderful groups’ development and growth but continue my own development and growth with them. I will be working with Rob Mennear weekly at Animate, a contemporary class for adults with disabilities, which allows me to expand the inclusive practice that I am teaching and continue to work in an area of dance that I am strongly passionate about.

Overall, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to begin building my career with this internship. The knowledge and support that I will receive throughout the next six months will enable me to boost my career as a dance artist and hopefully, set me on the right path for a life filled with doing what I love, dancing.




Kaitlyn Howlett

Illuminate – Tammy Mildren

What an amazing event Illuminate was! On the 18th November 2016 I was asked to take part in a Film with Plymouth Dance Volunteers and ADAPT Youth Company. This was being created as part of the Illuminate Festival to be displayed on the side of the Plymouth Art Centre building on the 24th November. It was such an amazing opportunity to be a part of and I learned so much because I have never done anything like that before. The film involved us dancing in the dark going on and off a platform with wooden boxes that were lit up, creating different shapes and movements. We also played with level and doing lifts and we were exploring different ways of moving for example we played with the idea of not letting anyone get or put boxes onto the wall and we also played with the idea of taking the boxes from one another and fighting over the boxes this was loads of fun.

Then on the 24th November we were involved in the Illuminate parade, which started on the barbican and made its way to Plymouth guildhall in the city centre. We watched the first bit of the parade and then joined in further down the road with the lit up boxes this was amazing fun because we then saw a dance performance by the Barbican Theatre and a projection film that was shown on the building of the guildhall. We then made our way up to Plymouth Art Centre to see our film being displayed on the side of the building.

Thank you everyone that was involved in making this happen this was an amazing experience to be a part of and I had so much fun doing this.

Tammy Mildren

Plymouth Dance Volunteer

Plymouth Dance Volunteers Training Programme

We have a fantastic volunteers training programme for all of our PD Volunteers. Don’t worry though, even if you aren’t a volunteer you can take advantage of these great training sessions. All you need to do is choose what you would like to attend and then click through to book your place on Eventbrite. Make sure you book on quick though as places are limited and first come first served!

Tips for teaching dance

A session with dance practitioner Jules Laville around how to effectively teach dance.  This is an introductory session that will give an overview around effective practice and explore some exercises and techniques for teaching dance.
This session is suitable for anyone interested in beginning to explore teaching dance or anyone already teaching that miht like to learn more or see things from a different perspective.
Date and Time: Thursday 9th February, 6-8pm
Location: The Barbican Theatre, Castle Street

Inclusive dance practice

A session with dance practitioner and director of Exim Dance Laura Henry.  The session will cover information and advice around working inclusively in dance.  Laura has a wealth of experience in this area and will draw on that experience to share information, tips and advice connected with this field of practice.
Date and Time: Thursday 9th March, 6-8pm
Location: Plymouth School of Creative Arts

Customer Service and hospitality training

A session with Dan Baker, house manager at the Barbican Theatre around working with the public.  Although not traditionally associated in working with the arts being able to work well with people and communicate effectively is a vital skill.  With his experience of working with the public in a busy theatre Dan is well equipped to share his knowledge and experience in this session and will share advice for working effectively with the public and providing a wonderful service in any situation.
Date and Time: Thursday 6th April, 6-8pm
Location: The Barbican Theatre

Marketing and promotion

Laura Smith, director of Driftwood Marketing takes us through a session looking at the tips and tricks for effective arts marketing.  Laura has experience working in arts organisations before moving on to up her own business, for which she has many high profile arts clients.  Laura will lead participants through ways to use marketing to promote events and services and also look at use of social media.
Date and Time: Thursday 4th May, 6-8pm
Location: Plymouth School of creative Arts

Vision for Dance in Plymouth Event

Plymouth Dance is hosting the VISION for DANCE in PLYMOUTH Event
– Tuesday 6th December 2016, 5.00pm – 8.30pm

To confirm that you would like to accept our invitation, please click here: Attend Event

Facilitated by Pawlet Brookes, the event will give all participating the opportunity to contribute to the development of a 5 year vision for Dance in Plymouth.

Pawlet is the Executive Artistic Director of Serendipity in Leicester and she is an accomplished and experienced senior manager and producer. Her consultancy work includes leadership training, partnership building, artistic assessment, business planning, fund-raising (private and public sectors and charitable trusts), marketing, audience development and cultural diversity, events management and international programming. She was a finalist for the 2009 National Regeneration and Renewals Award for Cultural Leadership and has been a speaker at a number of international conferences, including being the UK representative at a UNESCO conference in Stockholm.

This Vision for Dance in Plymouth will be shared with the Plymouth Dance partners (Theatre Royal Plymouth, Barbican Theatre, Plymouth University, Plymouth Culture, Plymouth Council, Arts Council England SW), so that they and Plymouth Dance can utilise it to shape their plans for Dance.

It will specifically inform Plymouth Dance’s Business Plans between 2017 – 2022.

So, if you Teach, Choreograph, Perform, Commission or Watch Dance and would like to ensure that your voice is heard, please join us and take this opportunity to contribute to the strategic development of Dance and the Dance ecology in Plymouth. To confirm that you would like to attend, please click here: Attend Event


What is the schedule for the event?

5.00pm – 5.30pm Register, refreshments & network

5.30pm – 7.30pm Event

7.30pm – 8.30pm Social/networking

 Where can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Please email or call 07818 518079

 Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

Yes, attendance is by ticket only, so, please bring your paper or electronic ticket with you to the event

Will refreshments be provided?

Yes, complimentary tea, coffee, fruit juice, water and light bites will be provided. However, if you would like to donate to the cost of the refreshments, please select Donation when booking.

Who has supported this event?

This event has been made possible thanks to the support of Arts Council England and the New Continental Hotel.



What it’s like to live in Plymouth as a dance student | Rhiannon Williams

Deciding to study at Plymouth University three years ago was the best decision I’ve made so far! Undergoing a dance degree was always the path I had picked through-out school and sixth form, deciding which university to go to was incredibly important to my journey. I picked Plymouth because of the beautiful, vibrant city and its ever-growing student community. Although completely scared and uncertain about moving away from home, I came into an open and passionate year group, all with the drive to further their dance education (they are also pretty fantastic dancers too as you can see below!)


Alongside being in the student community, in my second year I found myself volunteering for Plymouth Dance in a huge dance festival in the city called U.Dance 2015. Taking part in this event allowed me to observe different choreographic work, learn from an inclusive perspective and most importantly be a part of a network of dancers and makers working in the industry. Volunteering for Plymouth Dance really kick-started the seed that is my career, preparing me with useful and informative training on Child Protection, Hospitality, Becoming Self-Employed, Time Management, Networking and Marketing! It doesn’t stop their either! Plymouth Dance also allowed me to become a qualified First Aider in addition to becoming DBS/CRB checked. I got to participant in all of these training opportunities for free in parallel to helping out with the biggest youth dance festival in the UK, a win-win situation if you ask me! I also had the opportunity to perform with Exim Dance Company’s youth company Adapt, getting the chance to perform on the Theatre Royal Plymouth stage was just the highlight of the festival for me! Here is where I really began to start networking with artists and volunteers from all over the country, slowly inspiring me start making my own work (although I didn’t realise at the time).


Moving into my third year I knew that my time a university would come to an end eventually, so I began thinking about what I was going to do after University. I had one particular conversation with an artist from Exim Dance Company that began to question the options I was giving myself and gave me a fresh outlook on my vision. Completely changing my original thought to studying further, working towards a master’s degree, just getting out there and doing it first-hand, which was probably one of the most important and influential conversations I have had! This is something important I have learned from living in Plymouth, having conversations can encourage your next step, and ultimately that is what we go to university for, a better understanding of the career we could have! This then started With Company. With Company is a professional student dance company for undergraduates and recent graduates to make and perform work to the highest standard. It is a wonderful company that circulates backwards, in that the company will always be handed down to the new third years of Plymouth University each September for those emerging individuals to begin to start making their work and reaching out into the community through performance or teaching.

Starting this company really gave me the confidence to believe in the work I was making, also having the support of multiple Plymouth organisations and artists coming to see our sold out show at Plymouth Fringe Festival in May. I had the opportunity to work with talented dancers, musicians and film makers, in a wonderful process that made the final month of third year feel complete. This company is now run by new third years, Artistic Director Samantha Mills and General Manager Kaitlyn Howlett, who will carry on With Company and continue to make work under the name!


Finally, what am I doing now? I have moved back to my hometown Folkestone in Kent and have been given the fantastic opportunity to work with Instep Dance Company as a practitioner, teaching, participating and sharing information on dance opportunities. Instep have allowed me to be a part of professional development opportunities with The Point, Eastleigh such as a Pitch & Mix day learning how to form a company and how to fund it in addition to Tim Casson’s Artist Development Day in November. I’m so lucky to have a wonderful company invest in me as a graduate artist and increase my learning in what can be a tricky first year out of university.

I also am still working with Plymouth Dance on their major project ‘Tea Dances with a Twist!’ once a month, which has successfully received funding to carry on through to August 2017! I’m excited to still be a practitioner working in beautiful Plymouth, Devon!

My future goal is to eventually have my own dance company, I recently submitted an application to be part of the Young Choreographers South West scheme and I have been super lucky to have successfully gain a place on the scheme for 2016/17! This is the most suitable next step for me as an artist to begin to learn from choreographers working in the industry and ready me for when I put in that first Arts Council England application! Without volunteering for Plymouth Dance to begin with I would not have had the training, experience or confidence to be able to do anything I have done so far, and with their support I hope we can continue a very strong friendship!

Check out my website and watch this space!

Rhiannon Williams | Former Plymouth Dance Volunteer and Plymouth University Dance Graduate 2016

Volunteering update from Gemma Smith | Volunteer Coordinator

It’s an exciting time of year for the PD volunteers programme as we gear up to start our new programme. It’s always brilliant to see who will come and take part in the programme and get involved in what is on offer.

The new training programme is looking really exciting and we have lots of really talented people coming on board to give training to the group. In addition to this our Tea Dance with A Twist! programme resumes in November and the volunteers will be in the thick of it meeting and greeting people as well as helping to dance up a storm when required.

IMG_9062I always love this time of year as it is a great time to meet new people and help develop their talent and skills through what we have on offer.

We made a wonderful link with Marjons volunteering, who are sharing our programme out across their students and we also had a wonderful time at the Plymouth University Volunteers fair. Three of our volunteer team- Nicole, Chloe and Faye attended the event and spoke to numerous people about what we offer and how people can get involved. It was wonderful to know that we were offering something that people were interested in and were really drawn to.

If you would like to join the Plymouth Dance Volunteering programme then contact Gemma Smith



Gemma Smith | Plymouth Dance Volunteer Coordinator





For more information about the Tea Dance With a Twist events please click here