Cultivating excellence in African People’s Dance

Trailblazers Fellowships

One Dance UK announces recipients of its Dance of the African Diaspora Programme’s Trailblazers Starters Fellowship 2017-18

The Trailblazers Fellowship is an annual professional development programme initiated in 2003 to support UK-based dance artists, practitioners, performers, choreographers, dance teachers and researchers working in the field of dance of the African Diaspora. The aim is to cultivate excellence in African people’s dance by providing training and mentoring in order to ensure there is sustained investment in these talented individuals. To date, there have been over 40 Trailblazers since the programme’s inception.

Trailblazers features two strands of development, which alternate annually: Starters for first time applicants in the early stages of their careers, who demonstrate creative spark, ambition and leadership potential; and Champions for past recipients of the fellowship who have demonstrated strong leadership and entrepreneurial spirit.

What is a trailblazer?

An innovative leader in a field; a pioneer.
A person who blazes a trail for others to follow through unsettled country or wilderness.

Each participant receives 

  • A bursary towards a project of their choice (£2000 for Starters and £3000 for Champions*)
    *Champions must seek match funding or support in kind of a minimum of £1500.
  • A tailored development programme including training, career coaching, mentoring and peer learning
  • A range of networking opportunities
  • An opportunity to share their learning in a public showcase

Get to know the current Trailblazers

Trailblazers Starters 2017-18

Trailblazers Champions 2016-17

‘Everything I am now doing artistically is due to having been a Trailblazer.  The scheme fueled me as an artist, it empowered me and gave me the confidence.’

— Vicki Igbokwe; Creative Director, Uchenna Dance; Trailblazers Starter 2007-08 & Champion 2012-13

‘I will never finish being a Trailblazer.  I still have my application form and goals and revisit them.’

— Akosua Boakye; London Academy Cohort Director, Dance United; Trailblazer 2006-07

How can I apply?

Annette Walker by Irven Lewis

Annette Walker by Irven Lewis

Trailblazers Starters is open to UK-based dance artists who are working in the field of dance of the African Diaspora, as a dancer, choreographer, teacher or researcher;  chosen through open application and an interview. Trailblazers Champions fellowships are selected by nomination, chosen from the Trailblazers Starters Alumni.

Applications for the Trailblazers Starters Fellowship are now closed. Watch this space for more information on future opportunities to engage with our fellows and learn more about the programme.

Trailblazers Starters Surgeries

A half-day event designed to equip applicants with the know-how to submit an effective application. The timetable of events includes further information on the fellowship which is specific to DAD work, and how it sits within the ethos of the newly formed One Dance UK.  In addition, a step-by-step guide through the application form will give an insight into the specific outcomes and objectives to be evidenced. There will be time for ‘1 to 1’ advice, as well as time to network with peers and colleagues.

We do not have any surgeries scheduled at this time, but will gladly advise on how to prepare for the next round of applications for the 2019-20 Starter Fellowship bid. Please contact the programmer in your region for more information.


London – Heather Benson,

South West – Katy Noakes,

North  Oluwatoyin Odunsi,

For more information email us at or visit our Trailblazers Alumni  page to view more about the previous fellows.

The programme is supported by funds from Arts Council England, Trust and Foundations, private organisations as well as individuals.