Share your dancing memories

Local people are being asked to share their memories and stories of dance in the city since the 1950s for a major exhibition which will be staged later this year.

‘Derby Dancing’ has been launched thanks to a £10,000 National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The project is being led by Déda, the Derby-based creative centre for dance, contemporary circus and outdoor performance in Chapel Street, which celebrates its 20thanniversary this year.

Déda has commissioned Andrea Hadley Johnson, co-production and engagement manager at Derby Museums and Claire Cutts, creative director at V21 Artspace in the Cornmarket to curate the Derby Dancing Project which will culminate in an exhibition from September 15 to December 22 at Déda.

To kick start the conversation, local photographer Doug Smith – whose work will feature in the exhibition – has posted on Facebook a photograph taken at Cleo’s Club in November 1974 of a girl enjoying a Northern Soul ‘all dayer’ and is posing the question: #whoisthegirlinthewhitedress.

The call out has been shared 64 times on Facebook in the first 24 hours alone and potential names are starting to be flagged up.

Andrea Hadley Johnson explained: “We’d love to hear dance stories from local people, where their favourite places to dance in Derby have been and what feelings they experience when they dance.

“The exhibition will include an ‘open call’ photography display, a hip hop photography display and a participatory dance map of the city – illustrated by photographs, video, memorabilia and interviews – this will be available online so that it is preserved for future generations.

“As well as hearing people’s stories, we have opportunities for volunteers to help research archives, interview dancers and get involved in curating the exhibition.”

Claire Cutts continued: “We already have material from past projects that have focused on the Northern Soul scene in the city, the growth of Hip Hop and major community programmes such as Big Dance in 2008.

“This is however a wonderful opportunity to engage with local communities and individuals to share their memories, experiences and any visual material that they may still have from the Fifties until the present day.

“After the exhibition at Déda the Derby Dancing  Project will continue to flourish. There are plans in the pipeline to take the material on tour across the UK before donating everything to the Local Studies Library.

“In addition we will produce a 3D virtual reality version which can be viewed on all online platforms, facilitating accessibility and creating an interactive archive. The dancing community will be invited to help shape the ongoing narrative.”

Stephen Munn, Director of Déda, concluded: “This will be a fascinating way of exploring the changes in popularity of dance styles in Derby enjoyed by local people over the decades, including how genres such as contemporary dance have become more accessible in recent times.

“I am sure that many people will particularly love to share their memories of times enjoyed at different venues in the city over the decades.

“As part of our own anniversary celebrations, it will be particularly interesting to showcase the role that Déda has had over the past 20 years.

“We have grown both in size and focus from a regional dance house to now being a nationally recognised creation centre for dance, contemporary circus and outdoor performance.

“Finally, I hope that the project will serve as a reminder of the benefits of dance for individuals including physical exercise, as a creative outlet and a wonderful social activity and the importance of dance within the cultural offer of the city.”

Please contact Déda, on 01332 370911 or by email to contribute stories and memories or to find out about the volunteering opportunities.

Follow the exhibition information on Twitter @derbydancing #derbydancing and if you think you may know who the dancer at the Northern Soul event was – join the Twitter conversation #whoisthegirlinthewhitedress