Our group in Oxford has been running for nearly two years now. We have four leaders; Susannah, Vicky, Clare and Radha who are all supported by Adrian on the guitar. We meet once a month on the second Saturday of the month.
When we first met we were all keen dancers, some of us had been dancing for many years and some of us had attended the dance leaders training course. We all wanted to have the dances in Oxford but none of us felt able to lead or start a group alone. Rather than complain that there was no one in Oxford leading dances we realized that it was up to us to make this happen. So, this is what we have done!
At most sessions the four us lead a couple of dances each with Adrian on the guitar. This supportive, collaborative way of working has made it possible for us all to step out of our comfort zones, find our voices and confidence and lead dances. It has been transformational. We each bring something different to the dances and are drawn to different traditions which adds to the richness of our collaborative approach. There is also the added bonus of being part of a group in that if any of us is unable to attend a session the others can still hold it.
We welcome visiting dance leaders and musicians to lead or play with us if they wish. Sky has led dances with us on a number of occasions as have Rissa, Alan, Jane and Jackie. We have also been lucky to have Felix on his viola, Phil on his guitar, Jackie on the piano and guitar and Moses on the drums.
At our sessions we have anything between 8 and 18 dancers, but not usually less than 10. We have a varied and changing group of dancers with some regulars who will never miss a dance and often new people who have never danced before. As we have become more established the dances have rippled out to other groups in Oxford and we are drawing more people in. The group is evolving in a very natural and organic way. Apart from meeting to run the sessions the 5 of us meet on two other occasions each month; once to rehearse and once to de-brief after the session. For us to lead together, in a coherent way, we have found it is really important to make this time together.
We all feel very proud that DUP is now established in Oxford, it is gathering momentum and it is up to us to let the dances flow. So, on with the dance!
Clare, Radha, Vicky, Susannah and Adrian