We're delighted to announce Tony Mills as our new Artistic Director. Tony is currently Artistic Director of Room 2 Manoeuvre, company in residence at The Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh. He will take over from Morag Deyes on 20 September 2021.
Tony Mills’ appointment marks a generational shift for us and the first time that artistic leadership has changed since Dance Base was founded almost 30 years ago. Tony will join us as we prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of our studios in Edinburgh.
The role of Artistic Director is central to the delivery of our vision to get the whole of Scotland to experience dance and build national and international success for dance artists based here. Tony’s personal experience of making a career as an independent dance artist here puts him in a strong position to understand the challenges facing dance artists. His track record of engaging people across the country with dance will be invaluable in helping engage many more people with dance as a source of health, wellbeing and community.
As the sector emerges from the enormous challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tony’s role will ensure that Dance Base is supporting the talents and the needs of the diverse range of dance artists who choose to live and work in Scotland, and for making the country a place where dance fulfils its potential across society.
Tony Mills moved to Orkney from Ghana at the age of six. After initially pursuing a career in veterinary medicine, he discovered his love of dance in part through classes at Dance Base and has been working as professional dance artist in Scotland for almost 20 years.
Tony is currently the Artistic Director of Room 2 Manoeuvre (R2M). He has worked with Freshmess Dance Company, State of Emergency, Off Kilter, Iron Oxide, Curious Seed, David Hughes Dance Productions, All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre, Scottish Ballet, Derevo, and the international streetdance show, Blaze. He has also worked as a movement director/choreographer in theatre for companies such as Terra incognita, Cutting Edge Theatre and commercially for high profile stars such as Martin Garrix and Kelly Rowland.
Tony is a keen ambassador for the breakdance scene in Scotland and has been involved in the production and hosting of major dance events including Castle Rocks Breakdance Championships, Breakin’ Convention Edinburgh tours (2007 – 17) and Breakin’ Rules at the Dundee Rep Theatre and The Brunton.
Since 2015, R2M has taken up residence at The Brunton in Musselburgh. This has allowed Tony to facilitate artist development opportunities through residencies, mentoring and access to free class and space. In addition, in 2018 the company produced the first international festival of dance and sport called At Your Leisure taking place across East Lothian and Edinburgh City. Tony continually creates new work for R2M, which has toured work across the UK, Europe, South America and Asia. Recent productions include Alley Oop for Edinburgh International Children's Festival 2021 and the national tour of pop-up hip-hop show City Breakz.
Tony has a long association with Dance Base, from attending classes in his early career through to undertaking residencies and most recently participating in the organisation’s Artist Advisory Group.
Speaking of his appointment, Tony Mills said:
“I am more than thrilled to take on the role of Artistic Director of Dance Base. I first stepped into a breakin' class back in 1999 when the organisation was based at the Assembly Rooms. It became the highlight of my week. I got so into dance I almost quit Veterinary Medicine school. I didn't quit, but dance did win in the end.
“Now over 20 years later, I am grateful and excited to be in a position to use my knowledge and experience (of dance, not animals) to contribute to the future of an organisation that has supported my development as a professional dance artist based in Scotland. In my opinion, Dance Base has emerged as an organisation that has responded to the challenges of the past 18 months in a responsible, caring and robust manner. I'm looking forward to joining the team at Dance Base and working with these values to create opportunities, support and develop the careers of Scottish dance artists and get more people dancing in Scotland.”
Morag Deyes, outgoing Artistic Director of Dance Base said:
“Over three decades Dance Base has grown from a rehearsal room above the Kings Theatre, to a function suite in the Assembly Rooms to an institution in a bespoke award-winning building with a national remit and an international reputation. Tony Mills has witnessed that story and danced at many events that have celebrated the ongoing journey. His own company has been run for many years with an original, entrepreneurial spirit and deep connection to hip hop. I am sure Dance Base will continue to embrace change as Tony steps into this important and fantastic role of artistic director.”
Robert Dawson Scott, Chair of the Board of Dance Base said:
“It seems especially appropriate that the successor to the irreplaceable Morag Deyes should be someone who owes much of their own career to their interactions with Dance Base over many years. I look forward to the new era into which Tony Mills is going to lead us.”
Paul Burns, Head of Dance and Interim Deputy Director of Arts and Engagement for Creative Scotland said:
“It is great news that Tony has been appointed as Artistic Director role at Dance Base. Tony’s commitment and enthusiasm in promoting Scotland’s dance sector nationally and internationally, combined with his long association with Dance Base, makes him the ideal person to build on the many extraordinary things that the organisation has achieved under Morag Deyes’s artistic direction over the past three decades.”
Angus Robertson MSP (Edinburgh Central) said:
“I am delighted to hear of the appointment of Tony Mills’ appointment of Artistic Director of Dance Base. Tony’s multifaceted life will bring a wide range of expertise and understanding, and I look forward to seeing the great work that will be done over the coming years. I’d also like to extend my best wishes to the outgoing Artistic Director Morag Deyes for her future plans.”
Cllr Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said:
“This is a really exciting appointment for Dance Base and we’re very much aware of Tony’s talent and career and most recently, he was a recipient in our diversity and inclusion grant programme. I also want to acknowledge outgoing director Morag Deyes for her energy, commitment and tenure especially in her unwavering support and advocacy for professional dancers and choreographers at every stage in their careers. She has encouraged new work, connections and networks throughout the sector on a local, national and international stage.”
Cllr Amy McNeese-Mechan, Culture and Communities Vice Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said:
“It’s fantastic to have Tony as the new artistic director of Dance Base – with his breakdance background and career experience he brings a refreshing potential to the role, which is really thrilling. He will be building on an impressive legacy and we can look forward to his exceptional creativity and talent taking Dance Base into its next phase, and a new and exciting era of dance experiences and opportunities for professionals, practitioners and participants. I’m sure he’ll be bringing the world’s talent and teaching to Edinburgh and taking Dance Base to the world.”