Coventry Dance has been established as a Community Interest Company with a view to supporting an inclusive, diverse, vibrant and well networked dance community with Coventry and the region. Co-creation is at the heart of everything we do, and our aim is to work with communities across all dance forms, connect people and organisations, and support dance development.
We advocate Coventry to become a city of dance putting us on the map locally, nationally and internationally
Mercy Nabirye (Chair) is a consultant and creative producer for African Diaspora arts and founding Director of Kauma Arts which works with individuals and organisations to connect communities globally, raise profiles, the practice and awareness of diverse arts. She is a fellow of the Windsor Leadership and The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (FRSA). She is a Trustee on several boards in the UK, USA and the African continent. Her career portfolio includes Arts Council England, One Dance UK/ADAD, Royal Borough of Greenwich Council UK, Birmingham Royal Ballet UK, Apples and Snakes a literary performance poetry organisation in UK. Born in Uganda and currently a local of London England, Mercy’s artistic background is Performing Arts, Dance, Film/Photography and Literature. In September 2021, She received an honorary doctorate of Arts from University of East London, in recognition of her achievements.
Dr Geoff Willcocks (Director) is Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage at Coventry University. He is currently responsible for the development of the university’s cultural assets, external cultural profile, student cultural engagement and external partnership liaison with regional and national cultural and artistic bodies and organisations. He was recently seconded to the Executive Committee of The Coventry City of Culture Trust as part of the successful 2021 bid team. During this time, he co-authored the city’s Ten-Year Cultural Strategy. His external positions include, Chair of Coventry’s Music Education Hub, Vice Chair of Historic Coventry Trust, Chair Midlands Higher Education Culture Forum and Chair of the Cathedral Quarter Alliance. He has advised Art Council England on the role of Higher Education in UK Culture and is a board member for Ludic Rooms, Coventry’s Heritage Action Zone and Coventry Music Trust.
Clare Mitchell (Director) is an arts development professional with over 25 years of experience working both a strategic management of arts development and direct delivery within the arts sector across the West Midlands and Southwest of the UK. Clare has worked for a variety of organisations ranging from Warwick Arts Centre developing the Boys Dancing programme, Government Office and most recently as part of Coventry City Council as the Cultural Partnerships Development Manager on the development and delivery of a new cultural strategy for the city and the successful UK City of Culture 2021 bid.
Born and brought up in the Midlands, Clare moved to Bristol, paying her way through Art School (BA Hons Arts and Social context) by running events in Bristol’s lively arts and dance music scene, going on to train in informal and community education and securing JNC status.
Having a foot in both camps of Arts and Social practice, Clare is passionate about creating opportunities where we can access and engage in learning through creative and cultural practice, opening new ways of thinking and being together and as artists, as people, as communities of practice.
Dr Natalie Garrett Brown (Director) is Co-Director of Education and Experience and Head of Department for Music, Writing and Performance at University of East London. She is Chair for DanceHE (Standing Conference of Dance in Higher Education) and founding associate editor for the Dance and Somatic Practices Journal. Her practice and research interests are theoretically situated within feminist understandings of embodied subjectivity and the ways in which somatic and reflective practices can inform education, performance making, creativity, writing and digital cultural practices. Most recently this took the form of a research project Sensing the City supported by the AHRC. Natalie is also a trained executive coach and mentor and advocate of this practice.
Andrea Barzey (Development Director) is an independent dance educator, researcher, leader and project manager. Alongside her role as Development Director of Coventry Dance, she is currently Associate Programme Leader for MA/BA Dance courses at Dance City, Newcastle.
As an artist, Andrea has been supported by Arts Council England for dance film and installation projects, and as an educator has been part of JISC- funded projects for developing reflective blog practice
Andrea has held leadership roles at Coventry University as Associate Head of Performing Arts, Course Director for MA Collaborative Theatre Making and Senior Lecturer in Dance. She is currently a PhD student at the Centre for Dance Research, investigating partnership and collaboration, to promote a regional dance ecology.
Yaël Owen-Mckenna (Development Director) is a strategic leader in the dance arts and cultural sector. Yaël is a dance educator, academic and project director, an advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion across the arts and a champion for children and young people. Yaël is especially passionate about the right of all people to thrive within in arts and culture through their own experiences, leadership and participation in democratic and co-created contexts.
Alongside her current role as Development Director of Coventry Dance, Yaël is Programme Development Manager for the Live Well & Dance with Parkinson's Programme at People Dancing. In April 2019 she was appointed as consultant to the development of Coventry Dance, and it became a fully incorporated CIC in June 2019. Until April 2020 Yaël was also part-time Course Director for the BA (Hons) Dance course at Coventry University.
Lou Lomas (Producer) is a Freelance Producer, working regionally and nationally currently working with: Talking Birds Theatre Company, Ascension Dance, Imagineer Productions – Bridge, The Fabularium, Steph Ridings – Tappin ‘In.
Lou was the associate programmer for the Festival of Imagineers and former senior producer (Advanced programme) for Coventry City of Culture Trust 2021 Bid.
In 2018 Lou was the co-producer of the First ever Shop front festival in Coventry with Theatre Absolute and Orit Azaz working with local BID Teams Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Great Places partnership. This included delivering 60 performances across Coventry city centre, working with businesses, artists, community groups with a regional, national and international profile.
Lou is passionate about the development of Outdoor work and supporting companies working in Street Arts and Outdoor Sector. She is currently a board Member for Outdoor arts UK.
Susanne Foellmer (board member) is Professor in Dance Studies at Coventry University, Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE). She also has been working as a freelance dramaturge and academic advisor as well as a dance production manager internationally, a.o. for Veronika Riz, Dance Company Rubato, Isabelle Schad, Meg Stuart, Jeremy Wade, and the annual festival Dance in August Berlin. Furthermore, she has been co-curating the 2009 edition of the international Dance Congress under the motto “No Step Without Movement” in Hamburg.
Susanne has a keen interest in dance advocacy, for instance as a member of the Contemporary Dance Berlin NGO (ZTB; chair from 2003-2006). Also, she is a founding member of the national organization Dance Germany (Dachverband Tanz Deutschland), and currently serves on the advisory board for the concept team of a future House for Dance and Choreography in Berlin. Also, she has been chairing the panel on practice research at C-DaRE’s #DanceResearchMatters event in 2021.
Lakshmi Srinivasan (board member) is a highly passionate and accomplished performer, tutor and choreographer pursuing excellence in the two distinct forms of Indian Classical Dance - Bharatanatyam & Bharatanrtyam (Karana based movement practise from temple sculptures of India). She has acquired a Master’s Degree in Performing Arts (Dance) from Jain University, Bangalore, India.
She is the founder & Artistic Director of Ankura School of Dance in Coventry and a member of Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. She imparts Bharatanatyam training to many aspiring students in the West Midlands and trains them for progressive graded examinations.
In 2020,Lakshmi was awarded – A SOUTH ASIAN DANCE HUB COMMISSION for which she has created new work ‘Dance of the Past and Present’ using the movement technique of Karanas .She is the very first to bring the Karana based practise to the United Kingdom.
She was successful in writing her first Arts Council England application for which she received funding to support her Community Engagement project for ABUNDANCE 2021 supported by Coventry City of Culture 2021.
Her vision is to build a strong foundation for South Asian dance in the wider British dance scene extending strong roots for it to be visible, sustain and thrive in the cultural ethos of the city.
Stephanie Sandy (Board Member) is a dance artist with quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, being among the first in the UK to graduate from Coventry University with a BA (hons) in Dance and Professional Practice.
Stephanie has worked with a number of integrated dance companies such as Foot in Hand, with whom she danced and delivered workshops at the Place Prize in 2004, for 5 years. Her time spent working with Velcro Dance Company gave her the pleasure of collaboration with choreographers such as Marc Brew. She also worked with Blue Eyes Soul and for Warwickshire County Council delivering workshops to integrated classes of able bodied and disabled children. Stephanie took a break from dance to get married and become a mum to her two children when her disability restricted how much she could dance, but my passion didn’t leave and she is delighted to now be working as a member of Coventry Dance Board.