Edinburgh International Festival Artistic Development Week ©

Dance Base

Thursday 13 July 2023


Dance Base Scotland and Edinburgh International Festival have announced the 24 dance artists taking part in an Artistic Development Week this July.

Hailing from across Scotland and eight African countries, the dancers will come together at Dance Base in Edinburgh to connect, collaborate, and network with their international peers. Expertise in dance disciplines range from contemporary, to hip-hop, Bhuto, to Indian classical dance.

Supported by the British Council, the development programme will take place in the run-up to the significant performance of Pina Bausch’s The Rite of Spring / common ground[s] in August. A highlight of the Edinburgh International Festival, the performance marks the first collaboration between the Pina Bausch Foundation (Germany), École des Sables (Senegal) and Sadler’s Wells (UK).

The artistic development week will be led by Artistic Director of Dance Base, Tony Mills and will focus on daily classes and work in small groups where the participants can take part in reflections and conversations with a focus on creation and artistic devising.

The aim of the project is for the Scottish and international artists to connect and share practice, opening themselves to new techniques and creative approaches. They will have the opportunity to network with national and international peers and to create work together.

Amy Robertson, a dance artist from Edinburgh and one of the twelve Scottish participants is delighted to be involved in the international festival saying: Learning and sharing practice on international platforms is such a valuable part of our development and I'm really looking forward to all that comes out of this week. With a lot of work being made in smaller constellations of artists, working with 12 colleagues from across Scotland and artists from wider international communities is sure to be a rich and valuable experience for all involved.”

Also from Scotland, dance artist Suzi Cunningham adds: “This is an incredible opportunity to connect people from across continents and to learn from the artistry and passion of others. I am extremely excited about making new connections and having this opportunity to truly dance without limitations, and in ways I don’t allow myself or don’t usually seek out in my practice”.

Speaking ahead of the development week, Tony Mills, Artistic Director for Dance Base said about the collaboration:

“We are beyond excited to be able to host 24 artists from Scotland and across Africa as part of a collaboration with Edinburgh International Festival and their professional artist development programme. Dancers who will be performing as part of the Ecole des Sables & Sadler's Wells production of the Rite of Spring, will meet and connect with a range of Scottish dance artists to share practice and build relationships for one week. This is a unique moment that will be taking place under our roof at Dance Base. In Scotland, it is a rare occasion when this many professional independent dance artists can get together and get busy. I want to say a huge thanks to EIF for trusting us as collaborators. I personally cannot wait to get stuck in!”

Roy Luxford, Creative Director, Edinburgh International Festival added:

“The International Festival at its core promotes the exchange of ideas to deepen understanding between cultures through performance. Creating this platform of exchange between Scottish professionals and dancers from The Rite of Spring company is a special Festival moment, and together with our partners the British Council and Dance Base we can continue our commitment to artistic exchange and development. I look forward to this exciting week at Dance Base ahead of the performances of The Rite of Spring/ common ground[s] at The Playhouse Theatre this August”.  

Speaking about the artistic development week, Norah Campbell from British Council Scotland concluded:

“Building platforms for international connection is at the heart of what we do at the British Council, and we’re delighted to help bring these amazing dance artists together – putting a spotlight on local and global talent, helping them all to reach new, international audiences. I’ve no doubt the experience will spark new ideas and will allow all the artists to build strong networks for the future.”


Meet The Artists:

Information about each dance artist taking part, along with quotes from some participants can be found below:

Alan Greig (Scotland)

Alan was born in Scotland in 1962. He is an LGBTQ+ dance artist based in Edinburgh, working as a noted choreographer, performer, teacher, and mentor. Alan works extensively throughout the UK, internationally and was artistic director for X Factor Dance Company from 1990 until 2009. Alan has staged international performances in Germany, New York City, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Dublin. Alan is presently researching a one-man solo show ‘Within Reach’ which deals with the ageing body, self-written monologues and taking dance into new and unusual spaces in public buildings. His work explores gender, humour, text and is created through improvisation.

Alan Greig: “I am delighted to be part of the artist development week and I'm looking forward very much to meeting new artists, sharing my practice and learning new skills”

Amadou Lamine (Pi) Sow (Senegal)

Amadou, known as Pim is a dancer, performer and teacher, mainly focussed on different traditional African dance but trained in several styles including contemporary, house, hip-hop and Afropop. He is member of the Senegalese National Ballet, La Linguére, and graduated from the Alvine Academy Ailey Senegal. He is also choreographer for the Sunu Percu dance company and Artistic Director of the Festival International Jakarlo.

Amy Robertson (Scotland) 

Amy is a dance artist based in Edinburgh, working as a performer, teacher and maker. Before studying dance, she started a degree in engineering and is still very much with this way of thinking about bodies, space and information. Over the last couple of years Amy has also been engaging in regenerative practices that sustain and celebrate our earthliness, focusing at the moment on the spaces and beings we are moving with. As a performer Amy has worked a lot with voice and movement and is always happy to be working physically with sound and the body.

Amy Robertson: “It's great to be involved in the International Festival in some way as it comes to Edinburgh. Learning and sharing practice on international platforms is such a valuable part of our development and I'm really looking forward to all that comes out of this week. With a lot of work being made in smaller constellations of artists at the moment, working with 12 colleagues from across Scotland as well as artists visiting from wider international communities is sure to be a rich and valuable experience for all involved.”

Aoufice Junior Gouri (Ivory Coast)

Ivorian dancer-performer Junior graduated from the National Superior School of Arts and Culture in the Ivory Coast, and continues to develop through further training, workshops, and performances. His motto is: ‘live my passion to the fullest by taking up challenges’.

Aziz B Abdoul Zoundi (Bukina Faso)

Aziz is a dancer, artist, and performer from Burkina Faso. He is currently training through workshops in dance, theatre, and music at the Bouamani Africa Centre. He is also part of the training program in contemporary dance at CDC La Termitière, Je Danse Don Je Suis et Yeleen don

Babacar Mané (Senegal)

Babacar has worked with multiple dance companies. He joined the National School of Arts of Senegal to train in choreography. Babacar was the winner of the Institut Français de Paris’ Visa Pour La Création 2020 program.

Brian Oloo (Kenya)  

Brian is a Kenyan-born performer. He works with several organisations in East-Africa such as Yawa dance company and Ibuka dance foundation as co-artistic director. Brian’s most profound work was Mizani, a piece about gender equality, which toured ten towns in Tanzania and impacted thousands of people.

Dorine Mugisha (Scotland)

Dorine Mugisha believes in representing everyBODY in dance. She is an international dancer, performer, event organiser and retreat leader. Originally Tanzanian, born and raised in France, living in Scotland, she is inspired by an array of cultures and speaks 4 languages. Her background is in Hiphop and choreography, but in the last 3 years has been developing her voice within Whacking, with influences from various traditional African dance styles. She has a degree in Law & Sociology, previously worked in the charity sector and has an IAFPD Primary Certificate in Health and Wellbeing Coaching. She aims to combine her passion for movement and travelling to tell stories, especially from those under-represented.

Dorine Mugisha “I'm really grateful for this opportunity, especially the fact that it will be held in Scotland! I'm looking forward to learning, collaborating and exchanging with artists from across the globe, from institutions that I love!”

Evelina Sjödin Bergström (Scotland)

Evelina Sjödin Bergström is an emerging dance artist and choreographer from Sweden, currently based in Scotland. She recently graduated from The Scottish School of Contemporary Dance, where she got to perform in the works of others and create pieces of her own. Her movement practice mainly revolves around exploring textures and dynamics through movement.

Evelina Sjödin Bergström “I am curious and excited for this opportunity to play with movement, learn from everyone participating and create international bonds through dance.”

Florent Sidnoma Nikiema (Bukina Faso)

Florent is a Burkinabé dancer-performer, graduate of EDIT, certified teacher from the École des Sables and CDC la Termitière. He has trained with dancers such as Salia Ni Seydou, Laurence Levasseur, Irène Tassembédo, Angélin Preljocaj and Germaine Acogny.

Gloria Ugwarelojo Biachi (Nigeria)

Gloria is a Lagos based Nigerian dancer, choreographer, fitness instructor, actor and costume designer. She is a 2010 alumnus of the Dance Deal foundation Lagos, under the Artistic Direction of Bimbo Obafunwa. Her training includes national and international residencies and workshops with leading choreographers, and includes successful stints in theatre, television and motion picture, including Netflix original Mystic River. Gloria specializes in working with children of all ages and debuted her solo Ile at the 2021 FIDO International Festival

Hamshya Rajkumar (Scotland)

Hamshya Rajkumar is an inter-disciplinary artist who navigates through embodied movement, intention and ritual. By situating the body outside the constraints of binary structures, she explores our human place in a world where ‘nature’ is separate, dominated and objectified.

Hamshya Rajkumar “I am excited to continue my artistic development after being the Source Residency at Ecole de Sables!”

Harivola Rakotondraso (Madagascar)

Born in 1987, Harivola is the Artistic Director of the DIHY Project, an association for dance training and outreach. Living in Madagascar, he organises cultural events and works with companies such as Hetsika Madagascar, Asara, Anjorombala and Sasha Waltz and Guests through Zaratiana Randrianantenaina

Kemono Lebe Riot (Scotland)

Kemono L.Riot is an artist that wears his emotions as a cloth whenever he moves. He is known for his storytelling and for being a deep diver of truth. In each performance, he hopes to discover a little bit more about us human beings. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and raised in Glasgow, he has trained in several street dance styles and specialises in Hip-Hop and Krump. Kemono has performed and toured with several artists and competed in some of the biggest battle arenas across Europe.

Kemono Lebe Riot “I am very excited to be part of the artistic development and have the opportunity to share with artists coming from different regions of the world”

Melissa Heywood (Scotland- Edinburgh)

Melissa is a contemporary dance artist and physical theatre performer based in Edinburgh. Her choreographic and filmic work often touches on ecological themes and encapsulates a sense of adventure. She has recently completed a period of engagement with Dance Base where she developed her practice with support from their Dancers Emerging Bursary Scheme 22/23. Melissa holds qualifications in contemporary dance from Trinity Laban and in musical theatre performance from The MGA Academy. Alongside her work as a dance artist Melissa also works in charity fundraising and is one of the co-founders of The Grounding Project (@the_grounding_project_) collective.

Melissa Heywood “I'm really looking forward to experiencing such a diverse range of practices in just one week and to share my own perspective with so many amazing artists from across the world”

Oxana Banshikova (Scotland)

Oxana is a dance artist from Kazakhstan. Her dance work is inspired by the 4 countries that she calls home and her constant search for identity. Her practice is deeply rooted in Bharatanatyam, although she was trained in jazz and ballet before she committed to 5 years professional training in Indian Classical dance in India. Oxana is absolutely fascinated by Indian Classical Dance and music and can never get enough of it even after 20 years of my professional career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

Oxana Banshikova “I like meeting new people and finding their perspective on life. Similarly, I am curious about how other dance/movement disciplines work, what their philosophical approaches are, and what their applicable techniques are and how they can be incorporated in my practice.”

Pirita Tuisku (Scotland)

Pirita Tuisku is a Finnish Dance artist living in Scotland. She has been working as a Dancer, Choreographer and Teacher in Finland, Scotland, South Africa and Hong Kong. A versatile artist, she has over 17 years of experience working in different fields in dance. Her passion is to create work that will engage with audience, emerge with different art forms and bring alive topics from daily life. She gets inspired working in a diverse collaboration with curious and open mindset. Her own curiosity is about how she can push her own boundaries as mover.  Time outside from dance Pirita has passion in upcycling Jewellery making and working as an Aerial yoga teacher.

Pirita Tuisku: “I am excited to be in the same space with so many other artists, learning from each other and charging our creative batteries. At the end we can see the beautiful work THE RITE OF SPRING / COMMON GROUND[S], which I have been hoping to see for long time!! I believe this full experience will be inspiring!”

Sam Vaherlehto (Scotland)

Sam Vaherlehto is a highly accomplished, queer identifying dancer, choreographer, and educator, who graduated from the Ballet School of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet in 2007. He has performed in numerous classical ballets and works by contemporary choreographers, winning multiple awards such as the first So You Think You Can Dance contest in Finland in 2010.He has toured globally with companies such as Susanna Leinonen Company and Phoenix Dance Theatre, and his artistry has taken him to Denmark, Israel, and US, along with his role as a rehearsal director with SLATE in China, have solidified his reputation as an exceptional artist in the dance world.

Sam Vaherlehto “I am thrilled and honoured to be engaged in this project, collaborating with a vibrant group of talented dance artists. It is an exciting opportunity to come together, share our unique perspectives, exchange ideas, and continuously learn from one another's creativity.”

Serge A. Dodo (Ivory Coast)

Serge is a choreographer and performer from the Ivory Coast. He trained at the National School of Theatre and Dance (ENTD), where he obtained a Diploma of Artistic Advanced studies (DESA) and at École des Sables, Senegal. He has his own dance company King’Art and teaches contemporary dance at the AHK University of Art in Amsterdam.

Shelly Tetely Ohene-Nyako (Ghana)

Shelly is Ghanaian and Swiss. After completing her bachelor’s degree in performing arts, she worked as a freelance dancer. She moved to Ghana in 2018, where she started teaching ballet & fusing multiples styles together. Her aim is to help the performing arts scene in Africa to grow.

Suzi Cunningham (Scotland)

Suzi Cunningham is a Scottish live-performance artist and Butoh dancer. Her solo work is highly physical, political and responsive to its unique environment, enriched with her sense of design and musical composition. Suzi explores relationships with all life forms as well as manufactured materials, making embodied connections in a way that borders transformation.  Suzi toured her solo work Eidos and Rules To Live By across Scotland in 2021. She also co-created the clowning cleaning window duo Buff and Sheen in 2020, performing through hundreds of windows across Scotland and Italy since then. She is a dancer with Oceanallover and Nomoss and collaborates with a diversity of artists performing at local events and Festivals across UK and Internationally.

Suzi Cunningham:

“This is an incredible opportunity to connect people from across continents and learn from the artistry and passion of others. I am extremely excited about making new connection and having this opportunity to truly dance without limitations, and in ways I don’t allow myself or don’t usually seek out in my practice. I often ask myself ‘when did we stop dancing on dirt?’ This is the root of all my work, connection to the earth and others, and battling to keep moving.

I think this opportunity will have an impact upon my practice and support new work I am hoping to make over the next few years which looks at the fragility of human life, but the strength of all nature to persevere and battle on. I also would love to make more international connections, something which can be hard to do as a solo artist and I lost the impetus and confidence with during the Pandemic.”

Tess Letham (Scotland)

Tess is based in Edinburgh, working as a performer, educator, dance theatre maker and curator. Her performance work spans dance-theatre, film, outdoor and large-scale spectacle and has included projects by Shotput, Simon Fildes/Cagoule, David Zambrano, PanicLab, and Mairead McClean/The Wapping Project as well as her own work. Her own creations combine passions for multi-disciplinary theatre, dynamic physicality and high quality integrated design and has included her inaugural show, “How to Survive the Future”, and mid-scale work, “Remedy for Memory”. She is developing her latest projects under the handle of Fair Play. This includes “Where We Used to Wander” for Hidden Door 2023, and currently in development - “What ever happened to Harmony Banks?”

Tess Letham "I am really thrilled to be part of this development week, in my hometown of Edinburgh, it’s an incredible opportunity to share practice with a unique group of artists, building new relationships with international practitioners and strengthening connections with local peers. I’m looking forward to immersing myself in my dance practice within a supportive and inspiring environment of cross-cultural exchange, delving in to collaborative research and developments across an array of movement expressions.”

Vasco Pedro Mirine (Mozambique)

Vasco is Mozambican. He graduated in sculpture (ADPP) and trained in performing arts (P.A.R.T.S). He spent ten years working in the visual arts, during this time he also worked with the municipal singing and African dance company Matola and collaborated with Culturarte Mozambique. Vasco is a multidisciplinary artist and freelancer trained in contemporary afro and afro-street dances at École des Sables

Zadi Landry Kipre (Ivory Coast)

Born in Abidjan, dancer, choreographer, and acrobat Zadi has participated in the 7th Jeux de la Francophonie in Nice and won third prize for Best Creation at the Algiers International Dance Festival. Zadi is currently the assistant choreographer of both the National Ballet of the Ivory Coast and the international circus AFRIKA AFRIKA.

Notes to Editor

About Edinburgh International Festival 

Edinburgh International Festival is a global celebration of performing arts, bringing the finest performers of dance, opera, music and theatre from around the world to Edinburgh for three weeks every August.  

The next International Festival will take place 4-27 August 2023 and is the first from Festival Director and Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti. Benedetti’s vision for the International Festival is to create the deepest level of experience, through the highest quality of art, for the broadest possible audience. Each year the programme will also be developed around a central question or theme, this year’s asks ‘where do we go from here?’ 

The International Festival’s impact also extends beyond the annual programme, with community learning, engagement and professional development programmes running throughout the year, contributing to the cultural and social life of Edinburgh and Scotland.

For more information visit www.eif.co.uk


About Dance Base Scotland

Dance Base is Scotland’s National Centre for Dance. As a creative charity we want to see people across Scotland engaging in dance as an art form, a way to exercise and a way of life. We support Scottish dance artists to develop successful careers and we develop opportunities for dance to be used to support people’s health and wellbeing. We are international in outlook, ensuring that dance in Scotland is globally connected.   
We’re proud to support work across Scotland from our purpose-built studios in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Our centre caters for dancers of all ages and abilities, providing an accessible programme of activities that offers a diverse public a sociable and enjoyable way to keep physically fit and develop new creative skills. Our four world-class studios provide dancers with excellent facilities and an inspiring environment in which to dance.  

For more information visit: https://www.dancebase.co.uk/

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We support peace and prosperity by building connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and countries worldwide. We do this through our work in arts and culture, education and the English language. We work with people in over 200 countries and territories and are on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2021-22 we reached 650 million people.