Dancers Emerging Bursary Scheme

DEBS with Angus Balbernie 27 - 31 JANUARY

Each year Dance Base Scotland recruit four emerging dance / movement artists to join the Dancers Emerging Bursary Scheme (DEBS) - a supportive programme of mentoring, guidance and practical support.

Established in 2008, the DEBS programme provides creative mentorship and practical support for emerging movement artists as they hone their practice and navigate their route forward into the professional dance sector. Running from September to June each year, the programme equips artists who have recently completed a period of training, education or practical experience in dance, with the skills, knowledge and confidence to embark on the next stage of their artistic journey, while also providing a strong and supportive relationship with Dance Base, Scotland’s National Centre of Dance, as they continue to develop their practice and creative work.

Each year the DEBS programme welcomes a different practicing artist to join the programme as the DEBS mentor, enabling the members to benefit directly from their incredible experience and deep understanding of the dance sector.

During this time DEBS members will receive:

  • Mentoring from an experienced dance artist
  • Free professional classes and workshops at Dance Base from September through to July of the following year
  • Two week-long group residencies at Dance Base
  • Free community classes, by negotiation
  • Free studio space, subject to availability

The DEBS members are recruited through an open call process and each year the selection centres around the expertise of the mentor, with support from Tony Mills, Artistic Director of Dance Base, and Kirsty Somerville, Head of Professional Programme.


Our Current DEBS Members:

  • Agnieszka Mencel
  • Melissa Heywood
  • Nell O'Hara
  • Nikhita Devi

You can find out about our current 2022/23 DEBS participants here


Previous DEBS Mentors:

  • Mele Broomes (2021/22)
  • Lucy Suggate (2020/21)
  • Angus Balbernie (2019/20)
  • White & Givan (2018/19)
  • Al Seed (2017/18)
    Merav Israel (2016/17)
  • Luke Pell (2015/16)
    Matthew Hawkins (2014/15)
    Alan Greig (2013/14)
    Steinvor Palsson (2012/13)
    Christine Devaney (2011/12)


Previous DEBS Recipients:

  • 2021/22
  • Anya Sirina
  • Marios Ento - Engkolo
  • Molly McAlister
  • Tony Chen
  • Riches Dikko
  • 2020/21
  • Hamshya Rajkumar
  • Jorja Follina
  • Laura Booth
  • Laura Fisher
  • Sky Su
  • 2019/20
  • Jenna Corker
  • Johanna Padron
  • Niamh O'Loughlin
  • 2018/19
  • Jack Anderson
  • Gregor Campbell
  • Millie Thomas 
  • Kirsten Walker 
  • 2017/18
  • Charlotte Mclean
  • Fiona Oliver-Larkin
  • Hyperion Nyx
  • Kat Barrass
  • 2016/17
  • Amy Robertson
  • Juan Casado Barton
  • Julia James-Griffiths
  • Max Evans
  • Pirita Tuisku
  • 2015/16:
    Carolina Ravaioli
    Katie Miller
    Mark Bleakley
    Philip Alexander
  • 2014/15
  • Amy Longmuir
  • 2013/14
  • Alex Ross McCabe
  • Christina Liddell
  • Esmee Lobley
  • Jessica Wycherley
  • 2012/13
  • Christina Duncan
  • Lucy Ireland
  • Tess Letham
  • 2007/08
  • Jack Webb
  • Lucy Boyes
  • Kirsty Pollock 

Quotes from previous DEBS:

Niamh O'Loughlin (DEBS 2019/20)

During DEBS I achieved more than I thought possible. I hit many career milestones. I had many times when I thought that too much was being asked of me and I navigated this with my mentor’s guidance. I also had a team to celebrate the successes and the experiments. Dance Base has been a great place for me to learn all manner of the skills that are part of being a modern day artist

Esmee Lobley (DEBS 2013 / 14)
DEBS has been a wonderful opportunity for me to continue to grow as a dance artist. It has offered me a unique platform to learn, work and become part of the dance community through valuable mentoring, classes and performance experience, all of which have given me vitaI experience whilst being in a supportive environment. My year as 'a DEB' has had a huge impact on my understanding of the role and expectations of a professional dancer and it has undoubtedly enabled me to gain a contract with a dance company for next year. 

Jessica Wycherley (DEBS 2013 / 14)
The duration of my year has afforded me the opportunity to take part in free professional classes and free company class (open to all every Tuesday & Thursday), which gave me an incite into the workings of artists in residency. With support from our experienced and insightful mentor (Matthew Hawkins) we were able to identify approaches to working and gain individual support based on our needs. One of the most beneficial things for me about the DEBs program has been to meet other local artists and socialise with like-minded passionate people. I could not recommend Dance Base highly enough, I feel that in Edinburgh it is the centre of dance, and a link/ window into what is happening in the rest of Europe. I would like to thank all my teachers and mentor (Matthew Hawkins) for this year. It has been life changing.

Christina Duncan (DEBS 2012/13)
The DEBS scheme is such an invaluable experience for dancers progressing from training into the industry. It acts as a wonderful platform, giving individuals the opportunity to not only develop as an artist, but to also nurture professional working relationships. A highly riveting journey that has supported my creative practice and led me to some of the work, which I am currently involved with now.

Lucy Ireland (DEBS 2012/13)
Being part of the DEB Scheme helped ease the transition from student to professional as well as open doors to the professional dance community in Scotland.

Tess Letham (DEBS 2012/13)
Being able to take class regularly for free was immensely helpful as an emerging artist as it allowed me to continue to train and work on my technique, which wouldn't have been possible without this opportunity, transitioning from student to professional seamlessly ... a very supportive route into the professional community and have since gained many opportunities of work throughout Scotland, definitely made easier to source by being part of the DEBS scheme.

Creative Scotland
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Supported by the City of Edinburgh Council
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