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

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


Tea Dance With a Twist | Meet Student Practitioner Stacey Fowler

My name is Stacey Fowler, I am one of the Student Practitioner’s on the Tea Dance team and I am also a 3rd year Dance Theatre student at Plymouth University, originally from Templecombe in Somerset.

Working on the Tea Dance with a Twist event with the Twister’s team over the last 3 events has not just been a blast but also a privilege and I have learned so much and gained a huge amount of experience and memories.

tea-dance-08It is an absolute pleasure being involved in the event as it aims to give a social opportunity for the over 50’s age category as well as being an intergenerational social event for families and people of all ages. What makes Tea Dance with a Twist! such a special and memorable time is that is has something for everyone; whether you want to have a dance, listen to a variety of great live music from different bands, have a cup of tea and a slice of cake, take an interest in the many independent living stalls or just a chat with a friend or somebody completely new!

One aspect of being a part of such an amazing event is meeting people of all walks of life. It is lovely to have a dance and a chat with someone you have never met before, and although I am in dance training currently, being taught basic steps of traditional styles such as the waltz, jive, quickstep etc in the space of one or two live songs by a partner in the crowd who has a lot more knowledge about ballroom dance is an amazing feeling of warmth and shared learning.


Meeting new people who share a passion for a good dance and good music will definitely be one of my highlights from the past 3 events. However, one of my most treasured highlights will be from a lovely lady who came along to the first Tea Dance event alone. We had a few partner dances together and the whole crowd had a few group dances together ran by Jayne. The lady stated to me at the end of the day that she was very nervous coming alone, and without a partner, yet she was really happy that she did persuade herself to come along as she didn’t feel at all alone as there was always someone to dance with, whether being a new dance partner or in the group dances and that she had indeed made some new friends whilst there which she met up with on the next 2 Tea Dance days! These kinds of conversations make me exceptionally happy to be a part of such a special event and a part of such a special team of passionate people! It shows that even if the dancing and music doesn’t get you up on your feet, you can still have a lovely social day out with people who come along for similar reasons!

Being able to dance with anyone and everyone at anytime of the day is such a feeling and I cannot wait for the next 8 events so I can carry on this fabulous journey of community and social dancing as well as meeting back up with all the lovely guests I have danced with over the 3 months of Tea Dance.

Through being a part of the Plymouth Dance event and team I have been lucky enough to have training in Dance for Parkinson’s and Dance for Dementia and it is a lovely added bonus to the days when you can chat and dance with a person who may not find it as easy as others to participate in a social dance event, yet know that because of the training I have been lucky enough to have through Plymouth Dance, there is now a previous barrier broken down a little more when dancing with some one who has Parkinson’s or Dementia. It is a beautiful connection being able to communicate with someone through movement.

I am hugely excited to get back in to the ‘swing’ of things and get back to dancing with the amazing team I am in, to have a dance with familiar guests and to meet some brand new dancers in the hall for 8 more fantastic days of dancing and music!

Can’t wait to see you on the dance floor!


Stacey Fowler | Student Practitioner

Tea Dance With a Twist! Tea dance twister



For more information about Novembers Tea Dance please click here.


Tea Dance With a Twist! | Chloe Brown

Throughout the summer I took part in a series of wonderful community events entitled ‘Tea Dance With A Twist!’. One ‘Tea Dance With a Twist!’ event took place each month from June to August and worked in partnership with local businesses such as Miss Ivy Events, Plymouth City Bus, The Duke of Cornwall, Plymouth Culture and Arts Council England to provide a programme of dance for people over the age of 50, promoting not only the joyous benefits of dancing but it ensures social engagement; an opportunity to bring the community together. An Independent Living zone is present at each event offering support, services and products that enable independent living.


My role throughout each of the events was a ‘Student Practitioner’. At the beginning of each event the team of ‘Tea Dance Twisters’ of which I was part of would introduce ourselves to ensure we could be identified. Each event was structured in a similar way as we had live music by wonderful bands such as ‘Metropolis Swing Quartet’ that provided composition for all genres of social dancing, in particular Waltz, Cha Cha and even Lindy Hop. Part of my role was to engage with people who attend the events. For me, personally this was my favourite part as I thoroughly enjoyed simply having a friendly chat about memories of dance, have a cup of tea from the Vintage Tea room provided or even about everyday life. I felt these interactions built strong bonds and allowed connections and relationships to form. These conversations often led to dancing with one another. Getting the opportunity to dance with a wide variety of people was a valuable experience as I often stepped away after dancing having learnt so many new things. The events aren’t just about bringing people together, it’s a chance to share experiences and learn something you may have never learnt before.

As part of my training for the ‘Tea Dance With a Twist!’ events I attended Dance and Parkinson’s course as well as Dance and Dementia training course. Both these training opportunities are valuable resources as it allowed me to adapt any movement phrases to promote accessibility, a key aspect of the Tea Dances.

Seeing everyone smiling and leaving feeling happy at the end of each events is something I will carry with me. I have gained so many transferable skills that I can apply to own practice such as communication, flexibility on movement phrases, further awareness and understanding of dementia, Parkinson’s and other disabilities and working in an intergenerational context.

I’m so excited there is going to be another 8 events and can’t wait to see lots of new faces.


Chloe Brown | Student Practitioner

Tea Dance With a Twist!

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


Being a PD Volunteer – Lydia Baldchin

I have had an amazing time volunteering for Plymouth Dance. I am grateful to be able to get an opportunity where I can connect with other awesome dancers and companies as well as the public within the dancing industry. Being a part of the volunteer program I have had the chance to communicate more with dance contacts in my local area and have started to network my own experience of dance.

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Image by Kevin Clifford

So far I have developed the knowledge in subjects of importance to me within being a Dance Leader. They include breaking down the meaning of Child Protection such as how to work with children going through a difficult time, to giving them a safe environment for socialising and dancing. Part of this session included how to Safeguard myself and the community that I am working within. Also I have learnt how to Market myself as a dancer and help Advertise different projects by sharing posts through social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. One of the creative classes that I took with Plymouth Dance was with ‘Encounter arts’, together as a team we learnt how to capture our own memories in an artistic way and how to present the idea to the public.


Recently in my journey with Plymouth Dance I have had the wonderful opportunity to get involved with a project called ‘Tea Dance with a Twist’ where I have gained work experience within the dance industry. This project is to support people over 50 with their health and well-being, to raise awareness of disability, Parkinson’s, Dementia and any other medical condition. It’s about bringing the community of all ages together to support one another and celebrate the benefits of dance. At the beginning we started fundraising for the project, I put my new skills to the test and helped with regularly advertising across social media as well as chatting personally to people and my own family and friends. The first event was on the 18th June and it was successful with a good turnout from the public. We had really good feedback from the people that attended and everybody enjoyed themselves. I had a lovely time speaking to the older generation about their memories of dance over a cup of tea and a slice of cake, I also learnt some classic dance moves of ballroom whilst listening to a live dance band called ‘Metropolis Swing- Quartet’. I have also built on my personal skills of self-confidence with communicating to the public. I am looking forward to the next event on the 16th July and then the 13th August hopefully the project will lead us into more events and workshops within the near future.

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I have really enjoyed my experience so far through socialising with dancers of different ages and abilities. I have built upon my transferable skills and l am starting to learn how to work within the dancing environment. I look forward to a future with Plymouth dance and being involved with their exciting projects and gaining more knowledge and experience.


Lydia Baldchin

Plymouth Dance Volunteer

What next for PD Volunteers?

This is always an interesting time of year, we’ve almost finished this years programme for our lovely volunteers and it’s time for me to reflect on the wonderful support they have given us over this year and also think about what next?

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We’ve been spoilt in the last two years with a really strong group of volunteers who have fully engaged and involved themselves in every project and opportunity that we have requested of them (or they have asked for)  It’s at this time of year we have to start thinking about recruiting our next team and this is exciting but also challenging.  Often those that make great volunteers are already busy and committed to other things which makes giving more time tricky.  And finding people can be another challenge; looking in the right places and getting the word out all over can be hard to do with a small team. We have great connections with the University, colleges and lots of arts and voluntary organisations  but getting a new cohort together definitely takes time.

The other exciting part of the next step is designing what our next programme of opportunities will look like.  Our volunteers have the chance to experience a whole range of really useful arts based training opportunities provided by members of our team but also from some really brilliant partner organisations.  In the past this has ranged from project management and child protection to marketing and creative consultation.  An important part of this programme is the ability to listen to our volunteers and establish what they would like to know more about, how they wish to develop and what skills they want to have as well as ensuring what is on offer is a good range of transferrable skills that can be used in other employment going forwards.

I look forward to the next steps with anticipation and excitement, who knows what will happen next and who we will meet!

If you are interested in volunteering with Plymouth Dance contact Gemma on –


We did it! Thanks for being a Tea Dance Twister!

Thanks to all your support over the past 30 days we were able to hit (and surpass) our Crowdfunder target!

So here are the wonderful people who believed in our project and pledged to support it:

Janice Summers

Lydia Chantal Baldchin

Ros Twinn

Jade Poole


Adam Morley

Sophie Northmoor

Rachael Nightingale

Maryam Pourian

Hannah Rimes

Mel Williams

Sarah Cobley

We are all busy planning and getting ready for the first Tea Dance With a Twist! on the 18th June at Plymouth Guildhall. So please make sure the date is in your diaries! If you can help us spread the word and promote these events please do and if you would like any flyers or posters please get in touch with Hannah our apprentice by emailing


Tea Dance PosterA4

Two for tea?

So the main part of my role at Plymouth Dance is to rope our lovely pool of volunteers into lots of projects and events.  I also spend time looking for other opportunities for them to help out other arts partners in the city or at events where bodies are needed.  It can be a challenging role, volunteering is after all voluntary!…so sometimes despite being super amazing the volunteers are busy with other commitments and performances and this means I have to always be on the lookout for people to support us and join the team.


Two of our volunteers having fun at a Creative Consultation training session.

Over the last month I have mostly been focussing on Tea Dance With a Twist! (TDT!) a project where we need LOTS volunteers to support people in getting together and having a nice time dancing, drinking tea, eating cake and being around live music, people and dance.  The project is going to be really fun and potentially will kickstart lots of other similar events as well.  To support TDT! there is currently a Crowdfunder and I was able to spend some time this month making the film to promote the Crowdfunder and working towards recruiting a team of volunteers to come and take part in the event too.

My role can be very varied and I can go between looking for people to support and outdoors festival, to backstage crew, to marketing support, event hosts to historical experts.  In exchange we develop opportunities and training for the volunteers to extend their own skills and grow, it’s really exciting to see how members of the team really flourish over the  time they volunteer with us and I am excited to see what TDT! will bring to the mix!

Gemma Ward

Volunteer Coordinator

If you would be interested in joining our wonderful team of volunteers please contact Gemma by emailing