Clelia was born and raised in North-eastern Italy, where she took ballet classes for ten years as well as practising classical music and theatre alongside her academic studies. She moved to the U.K. in 2013 to study Philosophy at Cambridge and later Philosophy and the Arts at Warwick.
Her professional experience includes a Marketing internship at Warwick Arts Centre, a six-month stint as an Outreach Worker at the Lanchester Interactive Archive at Coventry University, and freelance duty management for Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art.
In addition to her work with DanceXchange, Clelia is a Research Executive at Earthen Lamp, a consultancy which provides analysis, research and evaluation for cultural and artistic organisations across the West Midlands; she also collaborates with Beatfreeks on artistic events and initiatives aimed at young people. Other than that, Clelia spend considerable amounts of time reading, cooking and visiting her friends who live all over the world!
Debbie has worked in the creative sector for over thirty years. She is passionate about empowering people to achieve their full potential and transforming organisations through positive change. She believes firmly in making an active contribution to the evolution of the creative sector.
Debbie holds a BA(Hons.) and an MBA and held a number of senior leadership roles in dance and the film and digital sectors before specialising in mentoring, interim senior leadership, company change management and turn-arounds.
Debbie considers that creativity and imagination apply as much to how a business organises itself as it does to its creative output.
Emily Labhart is an experienced Producer and Project Manager, specialising in Dance of the African Diaspora and international collaboration.
Emily began her dance journey aged three at her grandmother’s dance school in Wolverhampton, Sheila Groom School of Dance. She went on to study Dance and Culture at the University of Surrey, where she graduated in 2014 with First Class Honours and received the Pauline Hodgens Memorial Prize for the best piece of work in dance analysis.
Since then, Emily has worked for some of the UK’s leading dance organisations including Sadler’s Wells, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Greenwich Dance, and has significant experience of managing and producing a range of artistic projects. From dance education workshops on tour and schools partnership schemes to festival programmes across indoor and outdoor sites, in addition to international projects working with partners in Germany, Canada and Jamaica, Emily loves what she does and believes great things happen by bringing people together through arts and culture.
In 2016 she was invited to speak on One Dance UK’s opening panel at Launch Leeds, and in 2017 she was published in Routledge’s “What Moves You? Shaping Your Dissertation in Dance”. Emily is also a 2017 Clore Emerging Leader.
Now based in the West Midlands, she works as a Freelance Producer on projects across the UK, including working with independent dance artist Dickson Mbi and his renowned Popping Crew Fiya House, as well as producing festivals such as Birmingham Weekender in Digbeth. She also delivers her own international programme Dancehall Origins and is the Creative Producer for MOVE IT – the world’s biggest dance event.
In November 2019, Emily joined the team at DanceXchange as Festival Producer for Birmingham International Dance Festival 2020. Working closely with the Head of Artistic Programmes, she will be responsible for co-curating and delivering the varied artistic programme, and she will lead on the planning, production and management of the festival’s outdoor and site-specific events across Birmingham.
My role within DanceXchange is to co-ordinate the performance and artist development programmes, this includes performances in the Patrick Centre and International Dance Festival Birmingham as well as artistic development schemes.
My passion for dance started at the age of 3 when I took up ballet, shortly followed by jazz, tap, modern and eventually contemporary at the age of 18 when I started my BA Hons Contemporary Dance degree at De Montfort University in Leicester. After graduating I worked as a Freelance Dance Artist before becoming Programme Co-ordinator at Warwick Arts Centre, starting at DanceXchange in March 2017.
Jamaal has been a part of the dance community since 2010, practicing a variety of dance styles, and developing a strong technique within the hip-hop style of breaking. In 2019, Jamaal created O’Driscoll Collective to give back to the community, facilitating conversation through movement, continuing to teach and deliver performances in a variety of settings.
With passion and experience in outreach, Jamaal is currently the Participation Producer for Birmingham International Dance Festival 2020, alongside his role as a freelance artist, delivering workshops, classes, choreographing and performing in self-produced performances. Please visit ODriscollcollective.com for more information.
Jerrel is a neurodivergent leader working in the social, cultural, education and voluntary sector specialising in theory of change, inclusion, inequality, injustice and leadership.
From a place of lived experiences, at the age of 25, he co-founded and is CEO Creative Academies Network (CAN) a multi-layered organisation that supports the development of children & young people in the Black Country to accelerate their full potential through Cultural Education, Creative Practice & Civic Leadership.
Jerrel received his Masters and Bachelor’s degree in Creative Performance, Creative Technology and Media from Chichester University. In 2014 he was awarded Young Educator of the Year (Royal Bank of Scotland and Trinity Mirror) and Princess Diana Memorial Award for recognition of his contribution towards the local community through the arts & education and overcoming adversity/bereavement of his brother and mother at the age of 16.
In 2016 Jerrel was awarded the Arts Council England Fellowship through the Clore Leadership Programme under the direction of Sue Hoyle OBE and mentorship from Andrea Stark FRSA.
Over the past few years, Jerrel has toured across Hong Kong, India, France, Malta, Spain, Dubai, Greece, Croatia, Sweden and Bulgaria to strengthen his international relationships and leadership enquiry of the experience of children and young people across the sub-sectors of Cultural Education, Creative Industries, Cultural Diversity, Community Regeneration and Creative Economy. Jerrel is a PhD Academic Researcher working towards his publication D.I.C.E (Diversification In Cultural Education) addressing inequalities and injustices experienced by marginalised people.
Jerrel currently holds several strategic board roles; West Midlands Combined Authority Cultural Leadership Board, Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust Arts Committee, Windsor Academy Trust, Sandwell Cultural Education Partnership. Black Country Dance Hub, SIPs Education Music Hub & Arts Council England Cultural Education Leadership Programme. He is also a core member of the Strategy and Innovatory group at UK Youth and Co-Creating Change Network at Battersea Arts Centre.
John Houlden is a chartered accountant and since 2007 has been a partner at Ernst & Young in Birmingham specialising in corporate finance and working with a wide range of private and public sector organisations in the Midlands. Prior to his current role, John worked in corporate development and finance at Homeserve plc in Walsall and also in the Birmingham offices of Arthur Andersen and Deloitte. Originally from Yorkshire John went to university in Nottingham and has lived and worked in Birmingham for the last 20 years and has an MBA from the University of Warwick.
Over the last 10 years John has worked with a variety of not for profit organisations, arts and dance companies (including Anurekha Ghosh in Birmingham) through Arts & Business providing strategy, business planning, accounting and financial advice and support.
I work on reception as part of the Customer & Administration team, providing an efficient and friendly service, helping with general queries and office admin. We take great pride in maintaining the studios as safe, tidy and user friendly spaces for use by the public, dance professionals and staff.
I am a qualified Dance Movement Psychotherapist, with an MA from the University of Derby. I am interested in outreach projects within the community with a focus on mental health. Previously I gained a BA in Dance and Related Arts from University College Chichester with an exchange semester at York University, Toronto. I have taught street dance all over the West Midlands and have danced for companies such as Uchenna and Tru Streedance.
Kerry Nicholls has taught, choreographed, mentored, performed and consulted extensively for numerous dance companies and institutions throughout Europe and worldwide, and her experience spans a diverse dance practice spectrum.
Having taught regularly for Studio Wayne McGregor, DV8 and Michael Clark companies to name a few, she is widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading contemporary technique teachers; she receives many invitations to teach internationally at Ballet National de Marseille (France), Escuela de Danza (Cuba), the Beijing Dance Academy (China) and The Juilliard School (USA).
k|n|d|c (kerry nicholls dance company) was founded in 1999 as a vehicle to promote Kerry’s own choreographic research. During its existence, Kerry created numerous works for k|n|d|c and received independent commissions from organisations and companies within Europe, China and the USA, and directed various projects at venues such as the National Theatre, Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Festival Hall.
Kerry was appointed Co-Director of Creative Learning for Studio Wayne McGregor in 2007, was the Artistic Advisor for English National Ballet School 2008 – 2015 and was Artistic Director of National Youth Dance Wales 2014-2018. In 2014, Kerry was awarded a Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship to embark on an extensive period of research in the USA, shadowing and assisting Liz Lerman and advancing her work in the Critical Response Process.
Currently, Kerry is an external assessor for both English National Ballet School and The Royal Ballet School, as well as being the Contemporary Module Leader for the Degree programme at The Royal Ballet School. She is a regular choreographic mentor and career consultant for the Royal Opera House, English National Ballet, One Dance UK, Rambert, Scottish Ballet, Barbican and Youth Dance England. Kerry is the Patron of Constella OperaBallet, a Guildhall Coaching Fellow, the first Dance Ambassador for PIPA (Parents and Carers In Performing Arts) and annual Guest Artist at The Juilliard School.
Kerry is director and owner of Kerry Nicholls Dance and embodies the values and spirit of the brand which launched in autumn 2012.
I am responsible for the planning and delivery of marketing, press, publicity and information provision across all DanceXchange activity, implementing our strategic and audience development plans. I manage the marketing team which includes our Marketing Officer and Digital Marketing Apprentice as well as coordinating freelance PR support.
I began my career in print journalism before graduating to arts marketing where I have worked consistently for over 20 years. From pantomime to classical drama, live music to ballet, I have experience with most art forms, marketing a huge variety of work to audiences in Yorkshire, the East and West Midlands, principally on behalf of local authority funded middle-scale touring venues. I joined DanceXchange at the beginning of the International Dance Festival Birmingham in 2014 and love working on our many projects and programmes.
I have worked in the dance sector for over 20 years in a variety of roles – as a performer, teacher, choreographer, producer, manager and programmer/curator. I joined the DanceXchange team in 2013 after finishing my Masters in Arts Policy and Management at Birkbeck College in London.
My passion and enthusiasm for dance started at my early age. My parents remember when I was about 5 years old that I tried to stage my first ballet in the living room on the music of Bedrich Smetana. I founded and for seven years led artistically a Prague based community dance company before going to study choreography at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where I gained my MA in 2006. After graduation I worked as a producer and rehearsal director for DOT504 Dance Company, the first regularly funded contemporary dance company in the Czech Republic. I was lucky enough to join the company following its great success in Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Tanzmesse. During my time with the company I produced and managed numerous dance projects and toured internationally. Moving to the UK in 2010 to pursue my MA at Birkbeck, I then worked for Retina Dance Company in Nottingham before joining dx as Programme Manager for Performance and Artist Development.
In this role I worked alongside the Director of Production and Programming on the development and delivery of the performance programme for the Patrick Centre’s regular seasons and International Dance Festival Birmingham 2014. I also led on the establishment of a more robust and cohesive Artist development programme. My most important personal accomplishment during this period was the start of regular professional classes in partnership with Birmingham Dance Network and the following increased number of professional development opportunities for the artists in the region. Building on this initiative dx launched several of our current schemes such as dx Choreolab, dx Choreography Award and Artist in Residency and Dance Insights, an opportunity for artist to discuss creative process with the public.
I then moved within the organisation to the role of Executive Producer and led on the strategic development and delivery of all our Performance and Artist development programmes including the Jerwood Choreographic Research Project and curating the programme for International Dance Festival Birmingham.
In my current role of Head of Artistic Programmes I am leading on the strategy planning, development and delivery of all our Artistic programmes and working closely with the Learning and Participation team to ensure all our programmes share a common vision and work in harmony with each other. One of my main responsibilities is to lead artistically the Birmingham International Dance Festival.
In 2015 I completed The Clore Leadership short course.
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