Wildfire Rising Year 1

The first year of the programme recruited three North West based dance artists, who took part in paid, bespoke professional development and reflection as well as receiving a commission with support, to develop their own dance work. 

About the programme

Wildfire Rising is made up of three elements:

1. Bespoke Artist Development support:

Cheshire Dance and Movema will work with each individual artist to devise a package of bespoke support to nurture and develop their practice. This will be facilitated mostly by trainers and professionals from African, South Asian, East Asian and South East Asian diasporas.

Within the professional development element (£1k), we will expect Associate Artists to engage in:

-5 half days of Wildfire Rising group workshops facilitated by Movema, Cheshire Dance and other artists from the African, East Asian, South Asian and South East Asian disaporas.

-5 half days of self-directed learning,which will be supported by Movema and Cheshire Dance

-2 coaching sessions with a professional coach

-2 mentoring sessions with an industry professional from the African, East Asian, South Asian and South East Asian disaporas. (We will work with the Associate Artists to match you with a suitable mentor).

This support package will be designed in direct response to the artists’ needs/ambitions and may include activities such as:

-Personal development & confidence building -Business/organisational development -Artistic development

-Free access to studio space
-Training in world dance (particularly for place three artist)

Cheshire Dance and Movema are Executive Members of Dance Consortia North West and both can use this network to advocate and generate further support for the selected artists.

2. Commission

Cheshire Dance and Movema will award each Artist a £1.5k commission towards the realisation of their own individual artistic project.

This £1.5k is intended to be used as match funding (alongside the in-kind development support) to lever additional financial support from other sources, including potentially ACE Project Grants.

The project can be in any area of practice (performance, professional development, participation) but must have a connection to one of our communities of interest as participants, audience or beneficiaries.

Cheshire Dance currently works with older adults, people with learning disabilities, children and young people, dance and dementia, dance in health and care settings, and outdoor dance (Now Northwich International Dance and Street Arts Festival).

Movema works with young people, families, people seeking asylum, refugees and vulnerable migrants, people experiencing mental health issues and at outdoor events.

Linking the project to our programmes and one of our communities of interest enables us to best support the artists and develop practice and thus the experience for the people and communities with whom we work.

We are interested in supporting new ideas, new models of engagement, innovative and alternative practices and approaches. In supporting new ways of working we in turn develop our own knowledge and understanding whilst deepening and broadening the dance experiences available for communities.

3. Reflection phase:

Cheshire Dance and Movema are committed to learning from and with the Wildfire Rising Associate Artists throughout the process. This learning is important for us to better understand the needs of artists and to develop our artist development programmes and wider offer.

£1k is available for the artist to take part in 5 days of reflective activities with Cheshire Dance and Movema that focus on our organisations, programmes and the support and development the Associate Artists have received and what is needed moving forwards.

Recipients of the Wildfire Rising Associate Artist Programme

Xiaowei Lu

classical and ethnic forms. She graduated in 2021 with a Masters in Creative Dance Education – with a focus on Chinese dance education in the UK at University level, this was at Salford University.With 10 years experience of Chinese dance education & choreography and a strong background in dance and cultural collaboration projects, Xiaowei is passionate about developing ways of connecting and working with local communities. A proud Chinese woman, proudly living in England, Xiaowei  has a particular interest in Chinese classical and western contemporary dance. Her identity, heritage and culture inform the decisions she makes and the way she lives her life.

Xiaowei has produced international work that has toured the UK. She is the Creative Director of Arts of China and is an Associate Artist on the Cheshire Dance and Movema Wildfire Associate Artist Development Programme (2021).Xiaowei set up Arts of China dance company in 2011, which aims to teach Chinese dance classes, produce Chinese dance events and performances. The company is based in Manchester and works with a pool of international freelancers who lead in different forms of dance.Xiaowei intends to study a PhD Intercultural Dance at Salford University, beginning in 2022.During the Wildfire Rising programme Xiaowei:

  1. Improved her professional skills and continues to increase her profile as a Chinese dance artist in the UK
  2. Is developing a Contemporary Chinese dance performance that will share Chinese dance and culture to communities in Britain. The performance will be co-created with the community and chines dance professionals.
  3. Is applying for ACE Project Grants funding

Xiaowei has been developing her dance teaching philosophy acknowledging and combining the strengths of both Chinese and contemporary dance forms to provide an inclusive class where dancers can get the most out of the class.Though mentoring and coaching in the WFR programme Xiaowei gained confidence, developed connections in the sector and found a clear pathway for her research questions which she will continue through her PHD.

Sabrina Steele

Sabrina Is a Liverpudlian from the African diaspora who is passionate about working with youth and community groups with the focus of removing barriers to access.Sabrina is a freelance  dance artist wanting to deepen and develop work in the community by using world dance styles and commercial street dance. She has been teaching and dancing for over 30 years with and for the Liverpool community.For the past 2 years she have been focusing on developing and deepening understanding of world dance styles and how it can be a tool for engaging with young dancers and communities. During the Wildfire rising Programme Sabrina has been:

  1. Developing and running dance classes for disadvantaged young people in Liverpool
  2. Performing in World dance, commercial street and afro fusion styles
  3. Applying to ACE project grants.
  4. Working with Mentor Hakeem Onibudo at IMPACT dance in London and Liverpool.

Sabrina’s biggest achievement was to express her views and experiences on the “Spread Your Wings” artist’s panel speaking to representatives of the dance sector.

Addae Gaskins

Addae is from Trinidad and Tobago but is now based in Liverpool. Addae is a multidisciplinary artist, trained in Caribbean dance styles, carnival costume design and creative writing. Addae looks to develop his artistic practice to combine dance, choreography and words as a method of storytelling and to create a resource for dance from the African Diaspora.


To consult a review and recommendations by Inc Arts UK on the Wildfire Rising Associate Artist Year 1 Programme, please click here.To view a complete Evaluation Summary Report for Year 1 from Cheshire Dance and Movema, please click here.