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

12 May 2017


Thursday 11 May 2017
From a total of 22 applications, Dickson Mbi, Iris De Brito, Jamaal Burkmar and Zinzi Minott are the lucky recipients of this year’s Trailblazers Starters Fellowship for 2017-18.

The Trailblazers Fellowship programme is part of One Dance UK’s commitment to the continuing professional development of artists and the promotion of Dance of the African Diaspora (DAD). Each Fellow is awarded a bursary of £2,000 and a bespoke professional development programme. The latter includes artistic and professional mentoring by a leader of their choosing in the dance sector, life-coaching and training in subjects important to running a business such as marketing, fundraising and finance management.

The application process involves each candidate submitting an original creative idea, together with a supporting business plan and a clear vision of how the fellowship will contribute to their development in the short, medium and long-term. This is rigorously reviewed by a selection panel comprising the four members of the One Dance UK Dance of the African Diaspora team, 4 Trailblazers Alumni, augmented by key industry professionals, producers and presenters sitting on the interview panel.  This year’s interview panel included the expert eyes of Anu Giri (Executive Director of Dance Umbrella), Brian Brady (Head of Laban Theatre Programme at Trinity Laban), Carolene Hinds (Former ADAD Board Member), and Pawlet Brookes (Executive Artistic Director of Serendipity).

Commenting on this year’s winners, One Dance UK’s Head of Dance of the African Diaspora, Mercy Nabirye comments:

‘The standard of submissions this year was exceptionally high and reflected a wide range of styles and interests, from traditional African and Caribbean to contemporary fusions, Hip Hop and Street.  Applicants expressed through their proposals the need for increasing awareness of the forms but also highlighting the need for more research, education and documentation of the aesthetics of the genre.  We are committed to supporting this important work to safeguard the authenticity of the genres for future generations’ 

One Dance UK’s Trailblazers Fellowship is an annual professional development programme that supports UK-based dance artists, practitioners, performers, choreographers, dance teachers and researchers working in the field of dance of the African Diaspora. The programme aims to cultivate excellence in DAD through investing in training and mentoring for individuals working in the field.

Trailblazers is delivered in two strands which alternate annually:

  • Starters supports first time applicants, who demonstrate creative spark, ambition and leadership potential. The Starters fellows are chosen from across the UK through open application and interview.
  • Champions supports past recipients of the fellowship who have demonstrated strong leadership and entrepreneurial spirit to ensure sustained investment in these talented individuals.

Since its launch in 2003, the Trailblazers Fellowship Programme has supported 38 UK-based individuals who are championing dance of the African Diaspora including Alesandra Seutin, Freddie Opoku-Addaie, Rachael Nanyonjo, Mbulelo Ndabeni and many more. 

Previous fellowships have been supported by Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund, Fenton Arts Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Garrick Charitable Trust, The Idlewild Trust and individual donors.