Leaping into action to support the career development of our company members

8 March 2022

It’s National Careers Week 2022 and we are seizing the moment to highlight Spring Forward, one of our pioneering professional development programmes. Spring Forward was created during the COVID-19 pandemic to support our company members as they faced endless restrictions to their performing, touring, and teaching schedules. 

Spring Forward offers bursaries up to a maximum of £2000 to support our freelance company members to take a leap into learning a new skill, access training, refresh licences, invest in personal development, or spend time in research and development. We recognise continued support in these areas is vital to navigate a career in the arts industries. In the first four rounds of Spring Forward we awarded 59 grants, and we are now launching our fifth round.  The scheme is also accessible to our wider network of active Dance Artists and freelance technical crew.

Training has been undertaken in a variety of different areas of the sector including Performance/Motion Capture, Pilates, Art Therapy, Make up, Film studies, Photography, Stage Combat, Yoga for Children and Environmental Management, amongst others. 

Read on to discover a selection of the Spring Forward adventures some of our dancers have been on recently.

Kayla Collymore received funding from Spring Forward to create a dance film centred around pressing social issues in Houston, Texas. Her intent was to create a dark comedy with the hope of attracting enough attention to raise awareness and funds to counter some of the subject matter.

The funding was enough to help Kayla employ 8 local dancers, 1 musician, and 2 cinematographers in the Houston area. She was able to turn her ambitious ideas into a fully produced 10-minute screendance. With mentorship from the New Adventures team, namely Kerry Biggin and Kaasam Aziz, Kayla was challenged to question her comfort zone and push this film to have as much impact as possible. 

Watch the film Kayla made with support from the Spring Forward bursary below and find out more about Kayla and her film work here.

I would recommend Spring Forward to others because we all have creative ideas, passion projects, and unhoned skills that are waiting for the right push to make them a reality. Spring Forward is a good first step towards investing in yourself.

Kayla Collymore

Stephanie Billers received Spring Forward funding to advance her existing Sports Massage skills. She gained both her Level 4 and Level 5 iTEC qualifications, enabling Stephanie to increase her knowledge, confidence and scope of practice. With the qualifications Stephanie gained through Spring Forward, she was able to successfully apply for a role at Roehampton Club, giving her experience working as part of a multi-disciplinary team at the Tulloch Clinic. Now, back on tour, Stephanie continues to see her 'SB Sports Massage Therapy’ clients from home between venues.

Stephanie has recently been offered the role of a volunteer Sports Massage Therapist at the Commonwealth Games 2022, held in Birmingham this summer.

You can check out SB Sports Massage Therapy here.

Spring Forward brings accessibility and support to help you grow and achieve whatever it is that you have an interest or passion in. The scheme doesn’t just stop at the grant - there is so much continuous support from the New Adventures team.

Stephanie Billers

In Feb 2021, Spring Forward recipient Cameron Flynn released UNSKILLED, a short film for which he received the Spring Forward bursary. 

Cameron was determined to do something meaningful. After hearing our industry described as ‘UNSKILLED’ in the media, it really stuck with him, as it did for many. His aim for this piece was to send out a message to those who have had to fight to be heard and be respected as artists, performers and creatives. 

In this piece he wanted to convey a world where dance, performance and theatre ceased to exist - the mid-pandemic world he was experiencing at the time. All around he saw individuals trying to fit uncomfortably into other jobs. Their skills invisible and dreams to perform burning within them. ‘UNSKILLED’ was Cameron's way of making those people seen and heard for who they really are. 

You can watch UNSKILLED here.

Thanks to New Adventures and the Spring Forward grant I have reached heights and opened doors to opportunities that couldn’t have been achieved otherwise. The contacts built and industry lessons learned will help me hugely in my future creative career.

Cameron Flynn

Roisin Whelan received funding to start creating a new choreographic work for four dancers.  The process began online through Zoom and then Spring Forward allowed Roisin to begin developing the idea of Man Down alongside a team of dance artists. 

She was awarded funding from Arts Council Ireland to continue this work and has recently premiered it for audiences in Ireland. Roisin is now a regularly funded individual and has had the opportunity to begin creating multiple choreographic works over the past two years. 

Spring Forward allowed Roisin to take the first step in her choreographic career.

Man Down by Roisin Whelan Credit: Photography by Joseph Carr

I was excited to do something different to performing and I am delighted to now be choreographing on my own dancers and for other companies. It allowed me to start R.W.D./ Roisin Whelan Dance Company and I am continually creating work at this time.

Roisin Whelan

Heather Habens was awarded a Spring Forward bursary to study for the CPCAB Level 5 Diploma in Psychotherapeutic Counselling.  Having already gained Qualified Counsellor status through completion of the Level 4 Counselling Diploma, Heather had started to work with a local counselling agency but wanted to integrate her new skills with the experience she had gained in the arts. She was looking to offer counselling services to trainee and professional dancers and theatre practitioners.   

The CPCAB Level 5 Diploma seemed like the perfect route to achieving this.  Funding and encouragement from Spring Forward enabled Heather to undertake this Diploma. She will complete the course in summer 2022 and is looking forward to starting a new phase in her working life.  

At the end of a performance career, the thought of starting again in a new direction can feel overwhelming. However, with imagination and support behind us, it is possible to take the knowledge and experience gained from dance to forge new pathways.

Heather Habens

Find out more about the range of Professional Development programmes and opportunities offered by New Adventures here.

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