Rural Touring Dance Initiative Archive

The NRTF has joined forces with The Place, Take Art and China Plate to launch a brand new 3-year initiative for making and touring dance performances to and for rural areas.

Rural Touring Dance Initiative: Trailer from RB Films on Vimeo.

The first ever Rural Touring Dance Initiative commission has been announced with bgroup's Ben Wright returning to the UK to make an intimate new piece for village halls. Read all about the new commission here

In autumn 2016 the first cohort of companies went out on tour, having been selected from a menu of shows by local programmers, many of whom are volunteers seeking work to stage in their local communities. The full list of companies, shows, dates and venues can be found here. You can also read the press release about the first season here.

The second season of touring opened at the beginning of February 2017 with seven companies touring. The press release for the season can be found here with the full listings of all the events in spring 2017 here.

75 applications were received for the 2nd RTDI menu, which was announced in January 2017. The chosen companies will be touring in autumn 2017 and spring 2018. You can view the 2nd menu here.



Click the logos below to find out more about our partners.

The project has been made possible by a grant from Arts Council England’s Lottery funded Strategic Touring Programme.

Whoever you are – if you want to keep in touch with what’s going on you can visit this page, click on the links to the right for more information and latest news stories and check out the links to our partners page and the background to the project

On Twitter you can follow @rural_dance and use the hashtag #ruraldance and you can also sign up to our Storify for all the twitter action so far.

If you’d like to be added to the rural dance mailing list, to be among the first to know the latest project news, please email Alice Porter at


Rural Touring Dance Initiative - Menu 1


An introduction to the Rural Touring Dance Initiative from Ralph Lister, Development Director for NRTF:

“The aim of the Rural Touring Dance Initiative, running between 2015 and 2018, is to enable more touring and making of dance to and for rural areas.  Currently only a very small amount of dance tours to rural areas; this initiative will address issues and challenges on both the supply and demand side of the equation. More companies will be encouraged and supported to take their work out of a regular ‘black box’ setting into village halls, with all the delights and issues that brings with it. In addition it will create opportunities for many more rural touring staff and volunteer promoters to see exciting and engaging dance on a broad spectrum and to then programme and promote these shows to their local village audience. By providing a critical brokering, mediating and supportive role, the NRTF and its partners are making a formative intervention which will have lasting impact on both sectors. The project has attracted funding from Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund until 2018.

Protein - May Contain Food, May Contain You (c) Chris Nash

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is a multifaceted project, with several key elements.

Two curated dance menus for Rural Touring schemes and promoters:

Each menu features a minimum of eight companies, presenting a rich variety of different styles of dance. Menus were distributed to touring schemes and promoters in January 2016 (for September 2016 – May 2017 tours) and they will be again in January 2017 (for September 2017 – May 2018 tours).

The call out information for dance artists interested in being part of the 2017-18 menu was launched on 5th July 2016.

We’ll have also held four regional satellite sessions, where dance artists were able to meet partners, touring scheme representatives and promoters to find out more about the call out. These took place in June 2016.

Spliltmilk Dance - Blast From the Past (c) James Dodd

The Lab:

In autumn 2015, selected companies who are new to rural touring were invited to immerse themselves in rural touring for 3 days. They got the chance to explore the practicalities of rural touring, spend time with local voluntary promoters in village halls and exchange ideas. This will be happening again in autumn 2016.

The Darkroom:

A residency took place in autumn 2015, resulting in two seed commissions being awarded to Tom Dale and Ben Wright.

The companies involved in the Darkroom were James Wilton Dance, Sarah Blanc’s Moxie Brawl, Tom Dale Company , Greg Wohead and Ben Wright’s bgroup.

New commissioned work:

Newly commissioned work will be made especially for the sector and toured as part of the second Dance Menu. The commission will be awarded in September 2016.

Panta Rei Danseteater - Lullaby (c) Trine Sirnes

Youth Residencies:

The first of these will take place in Cornwall and Devon in November 2016, with Lila Dance working with communities coordinated by Carn 2 Cove and Beaford Arts.

This will be followed in  Spring 2017 with residencies for Cumbrian touring scheme Highlights, working with Panta Rei Danseteater and Shropshire and Herefordshire’s scheme, Arts Alive, working with Phoenix Dance Theatre. Carn 2 Cove and Beaford Arts will also have a follow up residencies with Lila Dance in spring 2017.

Further residencies in Kent and Norfolk will be announced at a later date. 

‘Go and See’ opportunities:

Special bursaries will enable touring schemes to ‘go and see’ dance work, including attendance at British Dance Edition and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

New Directions conference and showcase:

This was held in Falmouth 5th – 7th July 2016, featuring a specially curated dance showcase.

Joan Cléville Dance - Plan B for Utopia (c) Nicole Guarino

Claire Smith, Project Manager says:

“This project has the potential to make a real difference to the amount and diversity of dance available for audiences to enjoy in the rural touring sector. With the fabulous networks and expertise the partnership offers, the initiative has attracted attention from some of the leading contemporary dance companies currently making work. Our rural touring audiences are going to love what’s on offer. Already we‘ve seen not only positive reactions from rural touring schemes but from the contemporary dance world who are very excited about the potential to make and tour work into our unique spaces”