The renowned ballet dancer and Strictly judge is Company Chameleon’s first patron
Since launching in 2007, Company Chameleon has become one of the UK’s leading independent dance companies - and Manchester’s only touring producer, performing over 50 shows annually from Spain to South Africa.
One of the company’s most important features, however, is engaging people in dance. So it’s apt that co-founder Kevin Edward Turner met Dame Darcey Bussell - now the company’s patron - on BBC Two documentary Dancing to Happiness.
The projects she is involved with and everything she does to promote and raise awareness around dance is mind-blowing
Accepting the patronage, the renowned ballerina and Strictly judge said, “Meeting Kevin and hearing his passion for Company Chameleon, it was completely clear that there was a particular strength here…an inspiration.
“I like the individuality of the company, they show how expressive and physically provoking dance can be. I know how effective they are in reaching out and performing to so many communities, especially to the young. They share my passion for the positive impact that dance can have on people’s lives and their accessible dance style celebrates that dance is for everyone…I am very proud to become Company Chameleon’s first patron and I am looking forward to seeing more of the company’s work and being part of its future. May it thrive for many, many years."
Bussell’s patronage happens at an exciting time for the local organisation. Coinciding with their tenth anniversary celebrations, last year saw Company Chameleon expand their team, join Manchester City Council’s cultural portfolio and move into their first dance studio; next door to Rogue Artists’ Studios at the former Varna Street Primary School in Openshaw.
Co founder and -artistic director Anthony Missen said: “Welcoming Darcey as our patron means an incredible amount to Company Chameleon. It’s an acknowledgment of all the dedication and hard work that everyone in the team has put in over the last ten years. It’s an honour that she’s prepared to attach her name to us!”
Company Chameleon’s vision is to make Manchester ‘more of a dancing city’ and, with Manchester City Council’s support, is currently taking dance into schools across Greater Manchester for free. February also sees the launch of The Saturday Sessions, a new programme of dance classes for young people at their studio in Openshaw.
“This is just the start,” Missen continued. “We hope to eventually offer all sorts of dance classes for all sorts of people - from performance events to contact jams, from classes for absolute beginners to classes for professional artists. It’s brilliant to have Darcey on board at the start of this journey and what is a new era for the company as we explore the possibilities of having our own studio.”
Main images: Joel Chester Fildes