Open air dance event to celebrate natural beauty of Swanage

A contemporary dance company is to present two free open air performances in Swanage in Dorset to shed light on its natural beauty – and audiences will be at the very heart of the events.

At dusk on Wednesday 6th and Thursday 7th September 2023 professional and emerging local dancers from the performance company Landance will lead audiences at a slow walk from Swanage Downs to the amphitheatre in Prince Albert Gardens, interacting with the landscape along the way.


Dancers Rory and Reuben plan the promenade route for Light on Swanage Downs

Outstanding dance in exceptional places

Light by Landance, a live performance at the amphitheatre overlooking Swanage Bay, will then explore the mediums of light and water through music and dance as the sun sets.

Landance is a community interest company, animating outdoor spaces with engaging and atmospheric live dance events, which has won national praise for performing outstanding dance in exceptional places.

It works with local dancers and groups to create an improvised response to the heritage, landscape or even just the feel of a community – in Swanage, exploring the way natural light and water shape the town.

Funding from Arts Council England has made the free performance in Swanage possible through its brief to develop creativity and culture with an emphasis on caring for the environment.


Rehearsals at Swanage amphitheatre, with Rory Armstrong on the silk circle and Reuben Squirrell wrapped up!

Inspired by the fluidity of light and water

Project manager Delphine Jones said:

“Landance was founded in 2006 and since then we have commissioned professional artists to create dance performances in landscapes and towns, attracting audiences from rural areas, market towns and urban centres.

“Performances extend the audience’s experience of art and landscape, enlivening it with the relationship between people and environment, providing a lasting memory of place.

“Our artistic director Ella Huhne selected Swanage Bay for this year’s location, inspired by the fluidity of light and water in this beautiful landscape.

“Audiences will be led from Swanage Downs, with its views of the bay, cliffs and sea, down to the amphitheatre where music and light will play on the dancers, creating a memorable and inspiring experience through uplifting dance, music and lighting as darkness descends.”


Members of Allsort’d take part in a summer workshop with Landance


Professional dancers helped children at Swanage Library explore movement

Summer workshops in Swanage

The performance on Thursday 7th September 2023 will be an accessible, full event, as Wednesday’s promenade across the Downs will be filmed and shown at the amphitheatre for wheelchair users and those who are less mobile, at the same time as the live Thursday promenade is taking place.

Past Landance performances have taken place in Lyme Regis, Weymouth, Dorchester, the Valley of the Stones and a number of seaside towns around the South West.

Professional artists in dance, music and design Patricia Langa, Kip Johnson and Emily Thompson-Smith have developed the Swanage performances on site, collaborating with young dance artists Reuben Squirrell, Rory Armstrong and Mia Tongo Mesembe to create the final work.

Over summer, young people have been taking part in workshops led by professional dancers in Swanage Library and local schools, while Purbeck groups Remix and Allsort’d have helped to create moves around shifting light and water for dancers to incorporate into the performances.

Dancers rehearse a sequence for Light on the Downs

Dancers rehearse a sequence for Light on Swanage Downs

Landance route across the Downs

Route of the performance across Swanage Downs

Senses are heightened outdoors

Artistic director Ella Huhne, formerly a theatre designer, said:

“Creating environments and atmospheres on stage has been replaced by a desire to create performances within natural environments, bringing people into the landscape to collaborate creatively.

“I think that our senses are heightened when we are outdoors, we see, hear and move differently, we are more relaxed and open to play. 

“Creative work is less self conscious, teenagers engage and lose their awkwardness about being cool, while adults immerse themselves in collaboration, and children are released by the freedom to roam.”

Landance in Swanage 2023 is supported by Arts Council England, Dorset Library Service, Dorset Council, Dorset Community Foundation, Dorset Performing Arts Fund, with support from The Mowlem, Diverse City, Swanage Town Council, Remix and Allsort’d.

Accessible parking spaces can be reserved, and while tickets for parking and for the performances are free, booking is recommended, especially for the accessible performance which has more limited spaces.

Further information

Watch the 2021 Landance event in Lyme Regis

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