Every year, Dance Base offers a group of dancers and physical performers a place on our Dancers Emerging Bursary Scheme. The scheme includes mentoring from experienced dance artists, free professional classes and workshops at Dance Base, free selected community classes, up to two week-long group residencies at Dance Base and free studio space.
Our 2022/23 group are mentored by Artistic Director, Tony Mills!
Tony Mills is a choreographer and performer who has created work for indoor stages, site-specific environments and outdoor spaces. His work is informed by hip hop, physical theatre, clowning, contemporary dance and the use of text. Tony has also programmed and produced theatre evenings, live events and festivals as well as facilitating artist development activities. He joined Dance Base as Artistic Director in September 2021.
During the year Tony hopes to impart some of the creative tools and processes that he has learnt over the years, to help the members widen their own creative pallet when it comes to making work that goes in front of an audience. This will involve exploring choreographic concepts, improvisation and partnering, utilising principles of clowning in performance and investigating how components like text, objects, costume and music can contribute to their creative process.
Over the course of the year, Tony will work with the DEBS to spend some time discussing and tackling the practicalities of developing their dance careers, and when possible, see and discuss work together. His focus will be to assist them to discover, articulate and lean into their own creative voice and instincts
Agnieszka Mencel is a Polish dance artist, currently based in Edinburgh. Interested in the body as a medium, Agnieszka is exploring the relationship between vulnerability and empowerment. While striving to find balance between contemporary dance and physical theatre in her creations she wants to make work which leaves space for abstract thought, body-based sensations and the unexpected.
As a mover, she focuses on using momentum, gravity and opposite forces to create new movement. Being embedded in different improvisation practices she uses them as a creative tool and a way to keep the movement honest. Although experimental she often finds herself drawn to folk music and dances and uses them as an inspiration.
In 2021 Agnieszka graduated with an MA in Dance Performance from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she was a member of Transitions Dance Company. Before that, she studied at the University of Physical Education in Poznań (2018) as well as The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance in Dundee, Scotland (2020). She took part in many different workshops in the UK/ Europe and worked with choreographers such as Didy Veldman, Dog Kennel Hill Project, Anna Maria Krysiak and Niamh O’Loughlin.
Melissa Heywood is a choreographer, performer and dance artist from rural Aberdeenshire who focuses on bringing together dance and the great outdoors. Melissa completed her BA(Hons) in contemporary dance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (London) and before this, she obtained an HND with distinction in Musical Theatre from The MGA Academy of Performing Arts (Edinburgh). Melissa strives to combine genres, art forms and collaborate with others to create interesting and engaging works.
Her own practice explores how theatre can inspire audiences to get outside and reconnect to the powers of nature. Her inspiration is drawn from Scotland’s wild spaces and the adventures that she has in them. She is passionate about storytelling and aims to open up space for important conversations to spark through her work.
Nell O’Hara is a Bristol born, Glasgow based movement practitioner, performer and theatre maker. During her time in Bristol she trained on the Made in Bristol (MIB) scheme at the Bristol Old Vic (a year-long residency for 12 emerging theatre artists). She then went on to study Contemporary Performance Practice at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
Nell uses her movement practice to make political, bold and playful work that strives to push the boundaries of theatre and performance aiming to find new and innovative ways to best serve a story. She is a story collector who takes great delight in listening to the lives of others, creating work with and for communities about what is important to them. She works with movement as she believes it can elevate and embellish a performance in ways text cannot and she loves seeing how different bodies move, interact and react to the world around them. She wants to make performances that are relevant to the current state of the world and hopes that people come away from her work feeling more connected and less alone.
Nikhita Devi (they/them, she/her) is a multidisciplinary dance and movement artist based in Glasgow, whose practice is concerned primarily with the integration of Indian classical dance, bellydance and burlesque into a cohesive, harmonious form of expression. They also investigate the role of spirituality within dance, inspired by their Indian heritage and qualification as a yoga teacher, and aim to entertain, educate and inspire with their work. With a background in various forms of expression ranging from music and martial arts all the way to floristry and ceramics, all of which has influenced the way they move, their investigation of performance aims to be a holistic way of expression to unlock not only the physical but also the emotional, mental, spiritual and intellectual. Their overarching ambition is to be the role model they never had growing up, and to free their community – the queer, people of colour, neurodivergent, immigrants – from the shame and guilt of expressing themselves authentically, honestly and creatively. For them, dance is about connection and creation, a way of building bridges between communities and conflicts, and they are overjoyed to be joining the DEBS programme this year.