Artistic director of Birmingham’s DanceXchange, David Massingham, has much to be proud of since it was revitalised with a move to the Hippodrome a decade ago, writes Diane Parkes.
Ten years ago Birmingham’s DanceXchange was operating out of a cramped space in John Bright Street.
Then, in the autumn of 2001, the newly-renovated Hippodrome Theatre complex was opened and the centre found its new home in plush offices with purpose-built dance studios.
This autumn DanceXchange is celebrating the decade since its move – and is doing so by blending past, present and future.
It has been a momentous few years for the DanceXchange, which has a far-reaching remit including commissioning and producing new work, providing a platform for local, national and international dance companies, raising the profile of dance, and running a programme of classes for the public to have a go at activities ranging from ballet to Bollywood and funk to fitness.
Looking back, artistic director David Massingham says the move was a huge push for DanceXchange, which was established in 1993.
“We were in the Hippodrome before but we were in a room above the foyer and tended to be very separate from the rest of the theatre,” he says.
“When we moved back here one of the most important aspects was that it enabled us to work much more closely with the theatre. Physically we were no longer completely separate and were able to integrate our work a lot more closely.”
Nowhere is that seen more clearly than in the collaboration between the two organisations as the lead partners in International Dance Festival Birmingham (IDFB).
Launched in 2008 by Massingham and Hippodrome chief executive Stuart Griffiths, the inaugural month-long festival was deemed a huge success and was repeated last year.
Massingham and the rest of the team are now in the final stages of planning for next spring with the programme due to be announced later this year.
The festival aimed to put Birmingham centre stage for dance in the UK and was about much more than simply gaining attention for DanceXchange and the Hippodrome.
“We have always promoted the festival as its own entity and it does attract different audiences from DanceXchange,” says Massingham.
“The big outdoors works will particularly attract different audiences but within the festival framework we are also promoting what we do and we have seen increasing audiences here because of that.
“And it is also really helping to raise the profile of dance in Birmingham on an international level.
“For example the (in)visible dancing which was created for IDFB 2010 and performed in New Street has been bought by the Sydney Festival for January.
“I and the choreographer Luca Silvestrini are going out there to work on it.