Nearly a year on from the launch of BEEE Creative, we meet it’s founder Carrie Washington to ask about her inspiration behind the organisation and how to get into dance in Hertfordshire.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I trained as a professional ballet dancer at the Hammond School and English National Ballet before going on to do my degree at Middlesex University. Since leaving University I have worked consistently in the dance sector, focussing on community dance project management and teaching, most prominently with Rambert Education and dancedigital.
Since obtaining a MA in Community Dance Leadership I have also been a visiting lecturer in dance at the University of Bedfordshire, Trinity Laban and since May 2016 have been employed part-time at Middlesex University working with the School of Media and Performing Arts.
What is BEEE Creative and how did it come about?
For fourteen years I had worked with dancedigital (including Hertsdance and Essexdance) but that time sadly came to an end in December 2015 when the company closed. It forced me to take a step back and really start to refocus myself back on values and projects I personally believe in.
Since my training, my heart has completely been in learning and participation work. It only takes being in one practical dance session to really see the unique impact dance has on individuals' lives.
From that, BEEE Creative became an umbrella to bring together all my different strands of work - from teacher to project manager, via administrator and lecturer - with a focus on the core value of connecting people to dance opportunities
Tell us a bit about why you BEEE Creative works in Hertfordshire and the creative community here?
Although I live in Bedfordshire, the last 15 years of my dance career have been focussed on work in Hertfordshire, particularly enhancing the commitment of Hertfordshire Music Service to ensure dance is featured in the core of its work.
As such the collaborations, partnerships, and most importantly the communities, I’ve built a connection with are all in Hertfordshire, so it only felt right to keep building on this.
I feel really privileged to be part of the creative Hertfordshire community, which I can not praise enough for its networks and commitment to working in partnerships. It’s a real strength to running any community project.
What projects do you have planned for the next 6-months?
For the next six-months BEEE Creative will continue to work with Hertfordshire Music Service, developing the youth dance offer in the county. This will include working with the youth company on an exciting project with guest choreographers and building-up to Dance Ignite 2017.
I’ll also be supporting Hertfordshire County Dance Teachers’ Association with some administrative support for the biennial County Dance Festival at The Alban Arena in March 2017.
I will be working to develop the Museums in Motion project that begun in 2016 and exploring how it can have a deeper impact for already engaged communities but also rolling it out to more museums. I will be running dance classes for toddlers and older people regularly at Royston Museum which everyone is welcome to join.
Finally, in my spare moments (!) I will continue to forge networks and partnerships for new projects - I won’t say too much on this yet as it will all be subject to a few months solid writing of funding applications!
Why is dance important?
As mentioned before, dance can have a powerful impact on individuals. I could go into detail about the physiological, psychological, social and emotional benefits of dance participation - for which there is a growing body of evidence to substantiate - but I think participants from BEEE Creative managed projects say it best:
‘because everything else goes out of the window’ An older adult dance participant (July 2013) expressing that undefinable feeling you get when you are lost in the moment and everything else in your life stays outside the room.
“To get her out of bed in the morning you have to turn on the hose. With this project, she was a like a greyhound out of the trap.” (Parent of Participant, May 2016)
"They have been given a gift a new skill and creativity, with that it has empowered them.” (Parent of participant, June 2016)
"When you get to my age the opportunities to join in with something like this are very minimal. It was lovely to be able to be part of things. I was really invited in and felt valued and that made a difference to me.” (Project participant, June 2016)
One small interaction in dance can plant the seed for an ongoing impact in people’s lives.
Am I too old/young for dance?
Simple answer - NO! Classes are available for pre-schoolers through to retirees.
“I mean I’ve discovered that I like dance. In my fifties I’ve discovered my gene that needs to be expressing things.” (Older adult participant, July 2013)
Do I need training to dance?
This is a common misconception and can hold many people back from getting involved. You don’t need dance training to get involved! For most people, it’s just taking that first step. Some of the more creative dance styles that can be great to start with are often difficult to describe, so don’t be put off. Go along and try a class!
How can people get find out more/get involved?
BEEE Creative activities are posted on the BEEE Creative website. In Hertfordshire the Creative Hertfordshire website provides a great resource and directory of artists and projects people can get involved with. Or try your local council or sports centres who are likely to know of sessions near you.