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New international centre for dance opens in Ipswich

  • Date: 21 October 2009
  • Area: South East
Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich. Photo courtesy of DanceEast

Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich. Photo courtesy of DanceEast. Credit: Richard Bryant

DanceEast’s Jerwood DanceHouse, a major new international centre for dance, opened with a weekend of free dance classes and performances from 9 to 11 October.

The £8.9 million Jerwood DanceHouse, which features 2,500 square metres of state-of-the-art dance facilities, including three custom-built dance studios and a 200-seat studio theatre, was officially opened by Barbara Follett MP, Minister for the East of England, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday 10 October.

A parade featuring local schools and members of the community, and led by dance company New Art Club, danced a new dance called Let Yourself Go from Ipswich town centre to the new Jerwood DanceHouse on the town’s waterfront to mark the occasion.

Free dance, yoga and pilates classes, and a wide range of performances from companies including Bonachela Dance Company and The Royal Ballet took place across the weekend, giving the public a taste of DanceEast’s varied programme of events and activities.

With some of the best dance facilities in Europe at the heart of Ipswich’s £70 million waterfront redevelopment, the Jerwood DanceHouse enables DanceEast to expand its programme of education and community outreach, nurture new talent and grow new audiences. The centre will become an international centre for dance excellence, hosting residencies and performances by globally renowned artists.

The DanceHouse has been funded through private and public partnership, including significant investment from Arts Council England, East; East of England Development Agency; Wharfside Regeneration; Suffolk County Council; Ipswich Borough Council; the Jerwood Foundation and the Garfield Weston Foundation, alongside many other trusts, foundations and individual donors.

The opening season will include: Inspired!, an international celebration of dance training; and an all-star Gala evening on 7 November hosted by the Ballet Boyz featuring Akram Khan, Leanne Benjamin, Sylvie Guillem, Russell Maliphant, Wayne McGregor|Random Dance, Bonachela Dance Company, Edward Watson and Richard Alston Company. At Christmas, TPO from Italy, one of the world’s leading visual theatre companies for children, will present its acclaimed production of Butterflies.

Andrea Stark, Executive Director, Arts Council England, East, said: “The Jerwood DanceHouse enables DanceEast to continue to promote the best British and international performers and establish itself as a key cultural destination….the new bespoke facilities will provide new opportunities for people in the East of England to engage with dance and it will enable DanceEast to become an international centre for dance excellence, hosting residencies and performances by major artists.”