Author Archives: Laura Rutty



UBX: SUCCESSION is the spectacular new dance and digital media performance experience, which has been created specifically for The Space at Nottingham Contemporary 2024.

Audiences were fully immersed in a state-of-the-art 360° digital landscape, watching the show standing around a centralised dance mat. The unique piece builds on the thematic content of TDC’s work over the past 6 years, exploring our humanity within a digital world and questioning the core essence of what it is to be human.

What is Light Night?


Light Night is a popular annual after-dark festival in Nottingham city, with immersive and interactive light-based installations and performances popping up across the city centre. 


As a passionately digital and immersive dance company with an affinity for animated light and electronic music, we love performing at Light Night. The work we create for Light Night is always new– we work with young people to create completely new bespoke choreography for each performance. 


Our Light Night performances provide a rare opportunity for young people to create work surrounded by incredible high production values and a large budget in an exclusive show, in front of a captivated audience. 


“The choreographic skills for young people have been greatly advanced. The application of digital technology is embedded, the continuing innovation & artistic ambition is inspiring our young dancers. They are treated with so much respect; it provides them with unique artistic development. The work is increasingly inclusive as we strive to bring diverse groups together.”Andy Dawson, Inspire

What makes this so special?


Urban Explorers is a celebration of youth creativity, inspiring ambition, providing valuable experiences for young people, and supporting progression routes into higher education and creative careers. Over the years, we have worked with over 20 different youth groups across Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. Find out more about Urban Explorers in this blog.


The Urban Explorers show will be immersive, spectacular and truly awe-inspiring. On Light Night we attract audiences who are seeking a memorable spectacle, and we deliver this in abundance. We proudly have a track record of inspiring over 40% of our first-time bookers to then attend our touring professional work.


Through introducing new audiences to global award-winning contemporary dance and unique digital technology, our work encourages engagement from people who don’t normally attend theatre and dance events. 


“They pushed & challenged me, but in a totally respectful way. They taught me how to think out of the box. It was a really positive feeling to learn how to feel the music in a different way, how music is in your body –to be the music & let it flow through me in dance. I loved how we all worked as a team & came together for the final performance.” – UBX Participant

Introducing our Urban Explorers for 2024


We’re thrilled to announce that Tom Dale Company is joining forces with FOUR incredible youth groups across Nottingham this year! Meet our youth performers and find out a little more about them.

  • Flying High Expressive ArtsCIC


Flying High Expressive Arts CIC is a not-for-profit company celebrating 25 years offering high quality workshops in drama, theatre, singing and dance. They focus on engaging and raising aspirations in the local community through expressive arts-based workshops, developing creative performers who wish to move into the industry at the highest level. 


Their productions include National Theatre Connections plays, Edinburgh Festival Fringe performances, dance pieces created for Episodes, U Dance, MYdance and a dance exchange with a Youth Dance company in Berlin, plus in-house showcases annually.


“We are taking part in the Light Night project to broaden the experiences of dance for our young people, and give them the opportunity to work and perform with professionals.”

RESET Dance Co


RESET Dance Co are an exciting contemporary dance company based in Nottingham. The company was formed to inspire the next generation of dancers with the aspirations of promoting dance and the arts across Nottinghamshire, whilst providing excellent opportunities to young people. The company aims to provide accessible and relatable dance performance work and screendance to audiences of all ages.


“It is really important to us at RESET Dance Co that we are finding excellent performance opportunities for our young people to experience and be involved in, and are thrilled that their first ever performance as a group will be with TDC at Light Night. Since being involved in the project, we have already seen our numbers for the group increase. This is only the beginning of our exciting journey.”

The Dance Studios


Founded in 1997, The Dance Studios teach children and adult dance classes with dancing

schools in Nottingham and Oakham. Students have the opportunity to learn to dance in a wide variety of classes, including Tap, Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Limbering, attend exclusive workshops hosted at The Dance Studios by industry professionals, perform in our annual theatre show, take dance exams, compete in regional competitions and audition for local, national and international projects. The Dance Studios Nottingham opened in 1997, and now has 34 dance classes every week from their wonderful Hockley studios in Nottingham City Centre.

Redhill Academy


Redhill Academy nurtures individual talent and encourages academic achievement. In a culture where curiosity and high aspirations are encouraged, Redhill has a unique atmosphere where confidence thrives and anything seems possible. As a former Performing Arts College, they emphasise art, dance, drama, and music, with many students studying these subjects at GCSE and beyond. They also proudly offer extra-curricular activities, actively encouraging students to seize all enrichment opportunities.


This youth dance group has specifically come together for the Light Night performance, working with Karina Smith and Rachel Dunn at the school to help support and create the youth group. They have been working after-school to learn new techniques, build choreography and work towards the show.

The performances for Light Night 2024 were truly unforgettable and we want to thank all of the young people who took part. 

What’s next for Urban Explorers?

The sky’s the limit for Urban Explorers, and we have plenty of exciting plans for the future of the project. We’re bold: we exist to inspire, take risks, and deliver new experiences. To stay in the loop with upcoming Urban Explorer plans, follow us on social media and sign up to our mailing list.

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The Urban Explorers Journey

Bringing wonder and awe to young people with the uniting power of dance, Urban Explorers is our annual showcase with a unique vision. It’s an important project to us and close to our hearts– so we wanted to take you on the Urban Explorers journey, diving deeper into the legacy, history and deeper meaning behind the work.

“Urban Explorers strengthens self-belief and empowerment”

Tom Dale, Artistic Director

What is Urban Explorers?

Urban Explorers is a youth project bringing dance professionals and young people together to create incredible work and perform together on a major stage. 

We work with schools and local communities, specifically in areas of high deprivation and low arts engagement. The project takes place every year– since 2017, we’ve worked with over 500 students. The entire process takes several months: devising new choreography, providing CPD training to artists, and building an unforgettable experience for our young participants.

Ultimately, Urban Explorers is a celebration of creativity, ambition and collaboration. Our hopes are that we open doors, unlock confidence and self-belief, and support progression routes into creative careers or higher education.

The Urban Explorers timeline so far:


In 2017, our first edition of UBX took place at Nottingham Playhouse. I AM FOX was evocative free-flowing urban contemporary dance, borne out of the intensity and creativity of the UK’s electronic dance music scene.



In 2018, we were back at the Nottingham Playhouse. This year’s show took inspiration from visionary ideas about harvesting new energy sources, futuristic gardens and the collaboration between the organic, digital and mechanical worlds.


In 2019, we brought STEP SONIC to Nottingham Playhouse. It was the first year combining our touring production with our participation work. Groups got to choreograph and create their own music, using the innovative instruments TDC created for the show STEP SONIC. Movement generates sound, and then the sound in turn amplifies the movement, and through feedback and processing becomes the music. Quite literally: Dance Music, crafted live on stage.


This year, we adapted and created a new project where our students worked together to create new choreography for a commissioned dance film: UBX: DYNAMIC CORE. The project was a visceral fusion of urban dance, music and art as film.


In 2022, we performed at Light Night at the Nottingham Contemporary: UBX: SRG. The result was a stunningly visual, immersive dance performance, performed inside a digitally projected landscape to an evocative music score, featuring music from Ital Tek and animation from Barret Hodgson.


Also in 2022, we took UBX:SRG to Lincoln, and worked with four rural Lincolnshire groups for a performance at LPAC.



We performed at Light Night at the Nottingham Contemporary in 2023: SUB:VERSION. Celebrating light, choreography and electronic music, SUB:VERSION brought the audience directly into the performance space for a new kind of interactive viewing experience.


“The programme nurtures happy healthy, creative young people”

Tom Dale, Artistic Director


Why is Urban Explorers so important?

We consider this innovative youth project to be incredibly important, for many reasons.

  • Fostering individual self-worth and empowerment

One of our main aims is to create an innate sense of confidence, courage and self worth in our young participants. The fun but committed process helps to build fundamental life skills, creating a transferable skill set and unwavering inner confidence.

  • Creating community 

Urban Explorers is all about empowerment, and tapping into a safe sense of community. It involves teamwork and intense collaboration, helping to build valuable social skills and make new connections and friendships for life.

  • Encouraging a sense of pride

We view our Urban Explorers projects as having the same status and importance as our professional productions. Each project is produced to the highest quality, with robust working atmospheres and high production values. It’s work that our young participants can feel truly proud to be part of.

  • Paving the way for the future

Fostering young people’s love and enthusiasm for dance is so important to us. We nurture self expression, using dance as a universal language that needs no tools. Through Urban Explorers, we want our young participants to truly embrace the power of dance and see it as a viable, validated interest for their future.


“Creates an unforgettable moment – a milestone in their life”

Tom Dale, Artistic Director



What’s next for Urban Explorers?

The sky’s the limit for Urban Explorers, and we have plenty of exciting plans for the future of the project. We’re bold: we exist to inspire, take risks, and deliver new experiences. To stay in the loop with upcoming Urban Explorer plans, follow us on social media and sign up to our mailing list.

Up Close & Personal – Meet the TDC Company Dancers

We chatted to our TDC Company Dancers this Autumn  to find out more about them – what inspires them and what music they listen to when they warm-up and prepare for SUB:VERSION perfomances.


Mesmerising soloist in SURGE and part of SUB:VERSION, freelance dance artist and musician Jemima first studied at London Contemporary Dance School. She’s since toured in various productions internationally, performed alongside artists like Kylie Minogue and Ellie Goulding, and was nominated for The Emerging Artist Award and Outstanding Female Modern Performance at the National Dance Awards 2020.

Jemima, what first sparked your passion for dance? 

I first started dancing when I was 3 – I joined a ballet class and just loved the magic of it all at that age. I then saw Michael Flatley and Riverdance at the age of 6 and started Irish dancing too. My inspiration always grew, both through my teachers and seeing older dancers perform, knowing I wanted to be like that one day. 


What’s been your most memorable moment so far in your career? 

There have been so many incredible moments, and I am so grateful for so many opportunities in my career so far. Definitely a ‘pinch me’ moment was dancing for Kylie Minogue in her video ‘Magic’, and live on TV for The Late Show. I also loved the creation of Surge with TDC – it was a super collaborative process and this came just after lockdown, so our creative juices were in a very special place. 


What type of music do you like listening to in your spare time? 

My music taste really ranges far and wide depending on what mood I’m in. I enjoy music from the 90s as it’s nostalgic for me, and I’m prone to quite a guilty pleasure playlist with some pop divas. I love EDM, house and garage if I’m in the mood to party, but can easily hit a Nils Frahm or Max Richter if I want to relax. 


Give us your top 3 songs to dance to (or drop us the playlist link!)

  • Jamie xx – I Don’t Know
  • Olafur Arnolds, Nils Frahm – a1
  • Anything by Thriftworks 
  • My current playlist on the go this year:


After working with TDC previously, John is back working on SUB:VERSION and our exciting IN-SCAPE AR project. Combining his creative interest in both theatre and dance, John is a dancer and performer with many strings to his bow. He has numerous choreography awards under his belt, works internationally as a movement director in theatre, film and opera, and has choreographed large-scale opera productions at National Opera Houses around the world.


John, what first sparked your passion for dance?

Watching Scottish Dance Theatre perform ‘Luxuria’ by Liv Lorrent when I was 18 years old. I was training to be an actor and went along to a performance, and from that moment I couldn’t sit still. My body just screamed at me, telling me this is exactly what you should be doing


What’s been your most memorable moment so far in your career?

I’ve always found this question really difficult to answer. I’ve been completely blessed in my career and have had so many highlights and made forever memories, but just some off top of my head are:

  1. Standing at the side of the Covent Garden Opera House stage waiting for my bow and listening to 50-strong Opera Singers bellow out their final notes. Super powerful! 
  2. Playing Macbeth for the first time with Punchdrunk in their production of ‘Sleep No More’
  3. Having my own Triple Bill production at the Hackney Empire from winning the Matthew Bourne Choreography Award
  4. Seeing the transformation and confidence build in Young Companies 


The list is honestly endless!


What type of music do you like listening to in your spare time?

I’m for sure mood-related. I honestly have no genre that I don’t enjoy. But I’m currently learning how to DJ, so I really love house music. Something that has a great funk or rhythm!


Give us your top 3 songs to dance to (or drop us the playlist link!) 

  • For a slow, quiet improvisation: 


New to Tom Dale Company, Alex is part of the SUB:VERSION team. Inspired by the instinctive and reactionary nature of dance at raves and parties, Alex trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, before touring with VERVE and working with choreographers such as Gary Clarke, James Cousins and Vicki Igbokwe.

John, what first sparked your passion for dance?

Probably seeing Madonna twirl around in a pink leotard in her video for Hung Up. Music videos were probably the first place I saw dance!


What’s been your most memorable moment so far in your career?

Discovering my interest in making work and being able to hold space for dancers, who are often friends of mine, to invest physically and mentally and support me in my ideas. I am really grateful for these experiences, as well as being able to discover my voice as an artist. This or touring to Geneva with VERVE!


What type of music do you like listening to in your spare time?

I love too many genres of music to pick one! Anything with enough of a tempo to make my hips move. 


Give us your top 3 songs to dance to (or drop us the playlist link!) 

This changes all the time! Right at this specific moment they would have to be:

  • Bamako (Extended Mix) – Divolly & Markward, Amadou & Mariam 
  • Throb – Janet Jackson 
  • Shove It – Santigold, Spank Rock


New to Tom Dale Company, Orla is part of the SUB:VERSION team. After training with National Youth Dance Company and studying at the London Contemporary Dance School and the Scottish Dance Theatre, freelance dancer artist Orla gained experience working with Emanuel Gat, Roser López Espinosa, Joan Clevillé, Anthony Matsena, Yeal Flexer and many more. Orla was part of We Are As Gods, an immersive work choreographed by James Cousins, and Moving Cloud by Sofia Nappi.

Orla, what sparked your passion for dance?

I began throwing myself around community halls at a very young age – but my interest to make a career out of it came much later, when I found contemporary dance aged 16 at Swindon CAT programme and soon after joining NYDC. It was the people that I met here that made me fall in love. I believe dancers are a breed like no other – alongside the ability to be able to let go, perform and play, it’s the dance community that keeps me buzzing.


What’s been the most memorable moment in your career so far?

Performing Moving Cloud by Sofia Nappi with Scottish Dance Theatre at the folk festival Celtic Connections. Being accompanied by a 14-piece folk ensemble playing energetic trad music and sharing the stage with an incredible family of movers. The room was just fizzing!


What type of music do you like listening to in your spare time?

I listen to all sorts, I couldn’t really package it up! I don’t really like listening to playlists though, so I’m always surprised by what comes out of my music library. I can definitely see influences of my parents in it, bringing various genres from country classics like Johnny Cash to rock from T.Rex and Queen, as well as more modern artists such as James Blake and Gorillaz. A guilty pleasure I can never seem to get away from is good old cheesy 80s and 90s club classics – which I blame on having my radio alarm stuck on Greatest Hits radio station my whole childhood!


Give us your top 3 songs to dance to (or drop us the playlist link!) 

  • Nevada – Kerala Dust
  • Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz
  • I Feel Love – Donna Summer


Tom Dale Company dancer and rehearsal director, Sophie studied at London Contemporary Dance School and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. As a performer, Sophie’s work spans between theatre, the outdoor sector and opera. She co-founded Feet off the Ground, a female led dance collective, inspired by the healing power of dance and the role that movement, expression and creativity plays in people’s lives. 


Sophie, what first sparked your passion for dance?

I joined a contemporary youth dance company as a teenager back when I had no real idea of what it was. I had the most amazing teacher called Tory East who I’m still in touch with today, and she moved in a way I had never seen before!


What’s been your most memorable moment so far in your career?

I have favourites for different reasons! Earlier this year I co movement directed a performance at Queen Elizabeth Hall with Streetwise Opera, who work with people who have experienced homelessness. There were over 100 performers accompanied by the full BBC Royal Concert Orchestra. It was pretty epic! Also, working with William Forsythe and performing on the main stage at Sadlers Wells! 


What type of music do you like listening to in your spare time?

Soul, disco, funk, reggae, RnB, afrobeats, dance and electronic!


Give us your top 3 songs to dance to (or drop us the playlist link!) 

  • Energy – Sampa the Great, Nadeem Din-Gabisi
  • Glue – Bicep 
  • Ku lo sa – A Colors Show – Oxlade

Inspired by our dancers’ passion and want to witness their incredible talent first-hand? You can book tickets for our exclusive SURGE + SUB:VERSION double bill now, showing in select UK venues in October and November 2023.


Visit the SUB: VERSION production page

Tribute to Aimi McCaffery

We at TDC are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of our wonderful trustee and board member Aimi McCaffery on the morning of Sunday 15th May.

Aimi was a wonderful trustee for TDC joining the board in 2021. Having only been a trustee for just over a year but a supporter for much longer her contribution was always inspiring, insightful, caring and passionate. She was wonderfully driven about all that she encountered and a lovely person who always saw the best in people. She will be sorely missed by all of us.

Aimi was CEO for a Children’s charity called TwentyTwenty where she was doing great work. Jonathan Kerry, chair of TwentyTwenty, said: “Words cannot adequately express our shock at this news. Aimi was a wonderful person, a joy to know and work with. Aimi always brought such a great energy and drive to everything she did with such a clarity of focus that she was able to lead and inspire.”

Aimi was always generous with her time and was an inspiring and uplifting presence on the Board. We valued her passion and the driving force she radiated within the team with her contributions to the everyday running of the company. She was particularly active in supporting PR and Publicity, offering a strategic eye to copywriting and company branding. She was an active member of the Fundraising and Finance sub-committee and was working with us to develop a new public fundraising campaign to raise monies for new equipment.

We will miss her dearly and she will always hold a place within our team.

We are thinking of her family, especially her two young children and Husband and wish them all the love, strength and courage to get through this terrible time.

Tom, Laura and Michaela

TDC Team 


If you wish to make a donation, please visit:




We were delighted to see our very own Tom Dale accepted as part of the  QuestLab Network, with Studio Wayne McGregor. This is a three-year artist development initiative funded by Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence to create a new network of dance artists, developers, technologists and commercial organisations, leading to the development and delivery of performance and engagement projects around the country.

Dance artists are selected to be part of the programme because they are open to new ways of thinking, and passionate about technology’s potential to augment artistic creativity and engagement within the arts.

A New Approach by Tom 


Late in 2019,  I was selected to be part of the second cohort of dance artists to make up the QuestLab network.

Joining me on this second year of the QuestLab Network were:

Wilkie Branson
Jo Cork
Tim Casson
Adrienne Hart
Divya Kasturi
Jess Murray
Lisa May Thomas

It felt like a long time since I had the opportunity to take part in an intensive with other artists as a participant so it was a treat to be with like-minded people all willing to inquire and share together their thoughts and experiences.

We arrived in London on Sunday 28th October 2019 to take part in an intensive that would include talks, seminars, excursions, demonstrations, workshops and socials packed into a heavy two-week schedule. The intensity of this experience was one which I wanted even though this was right in the middle of our company tour of STEP SONIC. One venue I had to miss out on performances at was the Riley Theatre in Leeds. I was particularly gutted about this as it had been a long time since we had taken work there and I love to see work on that stage and feel the energy of an audience like theirs. As it turned out there were particular sound challenges in that venue since we were creating live dance music from the dancers’ movement on stage and it was a bad one for me to miss especially as we were also having the work filmed there but I knew the QuestLab experience would be worth it in the long run and so had to be happy with the trade-off.

QuestLab took place at the uniquely designed Studio Wayne McGregor art Space. The studios are in the HERE EAST complex at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford. The whole area is sparse and unusual, it feels like a place of new rules, realities and beginnings and of uncluttered efficiency but with wholly unfamiliar social and interaction spaces. The studios themselves are actually a joy to enter with a long and uncertain journey down a hanger-like corridor before entering a modern Escher style environment of stairs and divided spaces on a number of levels that could be navigated with multiple routes. The materials are raw, naked, tactile and again the vibe was clean and uncluttered but also flexible, unfixed, undetermined almost sketched. I liked the new spatial vibes as a workspace.

Over the course of the next week, we had presentations and seminars spanning many aspects of how creative technologies are integrating with art and life in innovative ways. To say the week was full is an understatement, it was bursting and impossible to comprehend everything all at once. I guess the most striking thing to notice is the simple rate of change that we are all subject to. Keeping up is noticeably one of the main issues facing humanity today. I got the sense that humanity is simply hanging on with its fingertips and perhaps we are closer to letting go than we think, ready to surrender to huge volumes of change. Technological advancement is an unstoppable life force that will sweep us along as we allow it to enhance or fragment our bodies, societies, and cultures.

Dance and choreography are about anything that moves from bodies, lights, projections, space, aura, energy, flow, the space between things, on both a macro and micro scale and everything in between. As a choreographer now it really feels that you have to really broaden your senses and awareness to take in the full scope of the art-form. I relish this as dance is more obviously moving beyond the physical limits of the body. There has long been a shared empathy with architects with both crafting movement within space but now it seems that the expertise of a choreographer or dance artist is so transferable into many aspects of new creative tech. There are so many applications that really want to understand human movement in a given environment or situation and it is becoming clear that we as movement artists have a lot of knowledge, experience and ability to bring to these fields. On a Sunday, we had a free and flowing session with Wayne McGregor discussing these things where he really provoked an articulated response as he implored us to value the transferable skills inherent in our art-form and profession. “Technology is always at the service of the body,” he said, and the body is the interface in many new creative technologies with advances in animation, visual effects, cross reality, User Experience, computer and video games, and visual computing. These mediums will require people with spatial logic, spatial skills, people who understand the transference of weight, flow and energy and who are sensitive to communicative contact and have a general kinaesthetic intelligence. Furthermore, we are experimental in our work which enables us to find failures within a system, something that is invaluable to these industries. There are many skills that we simply take for granted but that are valuable assets in working out the problems and opportunities in new creative tech.

“what is the future of the human body in a world beset by inequality as the principle force of evolution – natural selection – is replaced by intelligent design and how might subcultural movements and trends shape this”?

A large part of the QuestLab experience was to provoke a sense of self-reflection asking questions of our practice and previous ways of working which really encouraged me to focus on our audiences and users and how I might make our work more accessible across different distribution channels in order to reach people that would respond positively to our work, and then also how might different distribution channels affect the work itself. There has been a big push from inside the industry to get decent work online and I believe this could be done well but I really think we must resist the temptation to just video work made for Theatre and live performance and then broadcast that online. This does no justice to the art-form and would give new audiences a far from a positive perspective on the live performing arts in my opinion. I thought it was about time that we aimed to contribute positively to this domain in some way, but how?  

As a choreographer and movement director working with the body, in dynamic time and space, I am obviously really intrigued by the possibilities of cross reality. I’ve often worked with more than one visual medium at the same time so to be able to coordinate and weave these elements without the boundaries of physics seems an obvious space for me to jump into. When I am making work I often instinctively choreograph work from a 360º perspective, I guess because of the organic “un-staged” quality I might be looking for at times and it feels a natural step for me to give the audience free right to roam around and even amongst the choreographic work. I’m so intrigued about the directorial, compositional and choreographic possibilities. There seems to be an almost shaman-like possibility here as we can potentially craft at the limits of human physicality both with the body and its environment. Furthermore, from an engagement point of view, I feel that creating something in the digital realm will really enable me to make our work accessible to electronic music and digital art enthusiasts and communities that have inspired much of TDC’s aesthetics over the years but who might for one reason or another not venture to the theatre to see the kind of contemporary performance that we offer. I’ve often talked about how music is and has been an aesthetic leader within the arts and how it is time for us to start giving something back. I feel with new creative technologies we have a way to bring something back to those communities, truly combining the art-forms creating ideas and experiences that go way beyond music video collaborations of the past. We are looking at movement, sound and visuals that only live for and with each other within dynamic time and spatial relationship. With our skills, this should be a new art-form that we can help to bring about.

TDC is partnering with the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies and Mixed Reality Lab at the University of Nottingham to investigate a project we are calling SURGE Digital.