Dance Base has been at the center of the dance community in Scotland for almost 30 years. Since opening our purpose-built venue in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket in 2001, we have nurtured both professional dance artists and inclusive opportunities for public and community participation in dance.
Under the artistic direction of Morag Deyes and more recently Tony Mills, who became Artistic Director in 2021, Dance Base has built an international reputation as the home of dance in Scotland. Following our re-opening after the Covid pandemic lockdowns, we’re back on our feet and ready to dance our way into the next chapter of our story.
Dance Base is established as a charity to foster the development of dance in all its forms. Tamsin Grainger, original Chair and founding member, is joined by Morag Deyes as Artistic Director and Cindy Sughrue as Chief Executive in 1994. A potential site for a new building to support Scottish dance talent and community engagement is found in the centre of Edinburgh and National Lottery funding is secured.
The vision of a dedicated centre for dance in Scotland is realised in September 2001 as the Dance Base National Centre for Dance opens in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. The centre’s purpose-built facilities provide an unprecedented opportunity for Scotland’s dance community to come together and evolve in a new direction. From opening, Dance Base offers inclusive public dance classes and community participation alongside opportunities for professional dance artists.
Artistic Director Morag Deyes curates Dance Base’s first arresting programme of Scottish and international dance artists at the heart of the world’s largest festival of the performing arts – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The programme features a modest five shows per day over five days.
The development of the Catalyst programme, funded by the Scottish Arts Council, provides a step change in the support that Dance Base offers to professional dance artists across Scotland. A small, dedicated, Dance Base team begins to deliver professional development including support and advice, an associate artist programme, mentoring, and networking opportunities.
Scotland’s first semi-professional dance group for the over 60s – PRIME – is established in response to the desire of older dancers to see themselves more widely represented. PRIME is emblematic of Dance Base’s wider aim to help establish a culture of dance in Scotland that is truly equal and representative of its population.
Building on the experience of running Dance for Parkinson’s classes in Edinburgh, in partnership with the Mark Morris Dance Company in the USA, Dance Base develops a new partnership with Scottish Ballet to continue delivering this work, funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
The first lockdown in response to Covid-19 in March 2020 coincides with the appointment of Jim Hollington as Chief Executive. Dance Base responds rapidly to ensure short term financial stability and transition to an online teaching model. £500,000 of relief funding is invested in sustaining Dance Base and helping artists maintain their practice.
Artist and choreographer Tony Mills, who first discovered his passion for dance at a Dance Base Hip Hop class in 1991, is appointed as Artistic Director, taking over from Morag Deyes after almost 30 years in the role.
Dance Base is ‘The Home of Dance at the Fringe’ as 33 different companies perform nearly 300 shows across 23 days. Within the largely un curated Edinburgh Fringe, the Dance Base Festival has become a priority destination for audiences and promoters from around the world. The Dance Base Festival also serves as a vital marketplace and source of inspiration for Scottish dance artists.
We’re proud of our history and excited about the future. With your support we can expand our engagement work and encourage even more people to experience the health and wellbeing benefits of dance. It will also help us to offer more development and performance opportunities to artists of all ages and backgrounds. Please consider making a donation today.