Emergence, the postgraduate dance company of Joss Arnott Dance and the University of Salford

© Drew Forsyth

The MA Dance Performance and Professional Practices programme is a professionally focused course, co-designed and co-delivered with industry partner Joss Arnott Dance. The course is embedded in a ‘company model’: as a dancer in a small ensemble, you work with a collection of international choreographers to co-produce a programme of new performance works and tour nationally under the artistic direction and guidance of Joss Arnott and a wider team of dance professionals.

This MA programme not only focuses at contemporary dance performance at the highest level, but also addresses the wider needs of the dance professional, including modules on teaching/pedagogy and producing to widen students’ skills and knowledge. Students are involved in production and workshop delivery as part of the tour, equipping them with the skills, knowledge and experience to expand your professional opportunities upon graduation.

The MA Dance Performance and Professional Practices programme was co-created by Joss Arnott and Phil Hargreaves from Joss Arnott Dance and Sarie Mairs Slee, Programme Leader for the MA Dance suite at the University of Salford. It brings together the deep knowledge from both industry and academic perspectives to support students’ development. The programme was launched in August 2018 and, as part of the 2019 Emergence tour, students have worked with Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, and Joss Arnott to create a truly inspiring programme of work.

Reflecting on the foundations of this programme, Sarie Mairs Slee shares,

Dance at Salford is defined by our connections with the dance profession, deepened by longstanding relationships with Arts Council England, arts venues like the Lowry Theatre and HOME, dance companies like Joss Arnott Dance and Company Chameleon, dance development agencies, dance colleges and schools, and many more. We understand the unique challenges of the dance profession: the importance of technical training, the needs to creative innovation, the importance of connecting with wider educational, social or political spheres and the ongoing challenge of managing a ‘portfolio career’. The relationships with our partners help keep our understanding of these challenges fresh and allow us to develop offers and opportunities to address them.

As Artistic Director of both Joss Arnott Dance and Emergence, Joss Arnott’s leadership is crucial to the students’ experience and professional development. Joss comments,

I think the programme that we have devised with the University of Salford is really amazing. It gives the opportunity to individuals to grow and develop and, having that transition between being a student and a professional, it is an energising and inspiring programme to be part of. We are working to develop artists holistically. The dance community at Salford is inclusive and supportive, but also aspirational. We work together to achieve great things and support each other to do so.

Being a Salford dance student is a start to a long-term professional relationship. The University of Salford offers intense and rigorous education in all their courses, with different programmes working towards professional routes across choreography, performance, teaching and/or collaborative project development. They host a number of Dance Artists-in-Residence each year, including specific schemes for alumni. Salford graduates also have lifetime access to Careers and Enterprise support at the University.

As they come to the end of the 2019 Emergence tour, dancer and student Emma Hopley reflects on the programme in sharing,

What’s great is that the dancing and performance continue to grow as we rehearse and perform, and this is such a rewarding journey. I would say that both pieces take the audience to another place. And Still I Walk encapsulates an emotional and never-ending journey of all women, the relationships and the plight contained will be sure to get the audience thinking about issues faced by women throughout history and today. Joss’ piece truly draws the audience in, and the whole experience of the lighting, music, and impressive movement is undeniably captivating for all the senses.

For more about the course:


For short films exploring the creative processes behind both works, including interviews with the choreographers: https://vimeo.com/297187503


Emergence tour trailer 2019