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New film celebrates the work of Suffolk Dance pioneer Scilla Dyke

PUBLISHED: 12:12 06 September 2019

Scilla Dyke working with youngsters at Suffolk Dance in 1984

Scilla Dyke working with youngsters at Suffolk Dance in 1984

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Scilla Dyke was a dance pioneer founding Suffolk Dance and paving the way for DanceEast. Now a new film will be screened at the DanceHouse Open Day celebrating her work

Dancer and film-maker Mel Horwood who has created a portrait of community-dance pioneer Scilla Dyke. The film, Made in Suffolk, will be screened at DanceEast's open day on September 7.Dancer and film-maker Mel Horwood who has created a portrait of community-dance pioneer Scilla Dyke. The film, Made in Suffolk, will be screened at DanceEast's open day on September 7.

In the world of dance Scilla Dyke is a legend. She's a Suffolk legend - a pioneer of community dance and one of the key people who laid the foundations for what would become DanceEast.

Between 1982-1993 Scilla Dyke founded and directed Suffolk Dance, a unique organisation that looked to take dance out of the major cities and introduce it to people in the regions.

The key to Scilla's philosophy was to not only bring great dancers and choreographers out of London and Birmingham, she wanted to get them working with local people in their communities. She wanted them to share their knowledge, their enthusiasm and skills with ordinary people to get everyone enthused about dance.

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Among the people Scilla encouraged were young dancers and future professionals Gary Avis who went onto join the Royal Ballet and Charlotte Darbyshire who then joined contemporary company Candoco Dance before becoming their artistic co-director. She also worked with local professional teachers Caroline Mummery and Michael Platt along with dancer and now film-maker Mel Horwood.

Mel has made a film about Scilla and her work with Suffolk Dance which will be screened as part of the Jerwood DanceHouse Open Day.

The film is a mixture of rare footage and photographs mixed with interviews with people she worked with and people she inspired. Mel said: "The film, Made in Suffolk, is the story of Suffolk Dance/DanceEast but, more importantly, is the story of one woman's lasting impact on dance. She brought the English National Ballet, London Contemporary Dance, VTOL, Rambert and many more nationlly known companies to work with us in Suffolk. Workshops, summer schools and school projects as well as professional development were very much the focus of her work.

"Past students of Suffolk Dance all made wonderful personal contributions to my film. This short film is particularly important as there are few digital archives of this amazing period of dance in Suffolk and this history deserves acknowleding."

She said that the DanceHouse is a wonderful resource for dance in Suffolk and across the East of England but it didn't arrive out of nowhere. "Scilla laid the groundwork for what was to follow. She created a culture in Suffolk that allowed dance to flourish. We have produced some amazing dancers over the years who have gone on to work with a wide range of professional companies and we have developed an appreciative audience for dance and a thriving community who want to engage with dance and attend classes for fitness and social reasons."

The screening will be followed by a post-show conversation with Scilla Dyke and Helen Lax. Tickets will need to be booked in advance via box office or on the website for the film screening.

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