A statement from our new Co-Artistic Directors

Raquel Meseguer Zafe and Dominic Mitchell
Our newly appointed Co-Artistic Directors, Raquel Meseguer Zafe and Dominic Mitchell, share their vision for their first commission at Candoco Dance Company.

Dominic Mitchell and I arrived at Candoco Dance Company at the beginning of January 2024. Our new collaboration with Dan Daw Creative Projects feels like the perfect time for us to share the beginnings of our vision for the company. We want Candoco to be: 

  • A liberatory space,
  • A repertory company in which disabled folk see themselves and their experiences,
  • A seabed for ‘crip’ practice (we’ll say more on this in a moment). 
“A liberatory space enables an opportunity for a deeper awareness of the needs of others.”
Dominic Mitchell

By a liberatory space, we mean an anti-ableist, LGBTQIA+-friendly, and anti-racist ethos in the spaces and worlds we create, on stage and off stage. We mean removing as many barriers as we can, whilst recognising there will always be more to remove. It means moving at the pace that is possible for us. 

“We know that disability is often seen in ways that come from colonial history and problematic medical ideas. When we refer to decolonisation, we seek to acknowledge these historical contexts, and identify ways to use dance to liberate from them.”
Dominic Mitchell

In the early 1990s, Candoco was daring and bold to unapologetically present disabled and non-disabled dancers as professionals and as equals within the dance sector. The daring and bold thing to do 30 years on, is to recognise intersectionality while unapologetically centring the lived experience of disabled folk in the work, and honouring the stories, practices and aesthetics that emerge. This is what we mean by ‘crip’ practice. 

‘Crip’ is a term reclaimed in disability scholarship, culture and activism. Those of us who claim it, do so with pride, in a celebratory gesture. The term carries a sense of playfulness and a hint of naughtiness. We also use it as a verb: to ‘crip’ something means to make it more accessible and to give ourselves permission to re-imagine it in a way that works for our body-minds, rather than asking our body-minds to bend to the schedule, the working rhythm or the staircase that doesn’t work for us. 

Inclusive practice is what Candoco was built on, and it will always be the foundation of the company’s work. We want to work with inclusive dance alongside crip practice and decolonising practice. This is the expertise we bring to the company and we want Candoco to be home to all three philosophical lineages.

This is our vision for the company for the next decade. We know it will take time and that we need to work with strong allies to do this work. This is why we are thrilled to begin a new collaboration with Dan Daw Creative Projects. Dan Daw’s piece will be the first full-length work by a disabled choreographer in Candoco’s history. In addition, it is the first time Dan Daw choreographs work that he does not perform in himself. We are thrilled he is entrusting this important moment in his career to Candoco. This commission will premier in Spring 2025. 

This pivotal moment entails two disabled-led organisations collaborating to make change. We know this process will be imperfect, but we approach the collaboration with generosity and the willingness to graciously hold ourselves accountable. We hope you’ll join us on this journey as we learn and grow. We will publish a fuller statement about our vision and mission in May.

We sign off with all the excitement of a new endeavour! 

Raquel Meseguer Zafe & Dominic Mitchell
Co-Artistic Directors of Candoco Dance Company

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