Entertainment & Culture

Turning 20 – Celebrating twenty years of the Candoco Dance Company

Candoco is a contemporary dance company of disabled and non-disabled dancers based in London, UK. They are premiering a new production called Turning 20 on 14th September. We profile the work of Candoco and speak to dancer, Vicky Malin about her life as a Candoco dancer and her leading role in Turning 20.

Candoco was founded in 1991 by Celeste Dandeker and Adam Benjamin, with the objective of creating a professional dance company focused on the integration of disabled and non-disabled dancers.

From humble origins, Candoco have grown into a world leading dance outfit that have performed in over 50 countries and were chosen to perform in front of a billion strong television audience at the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Candoco have been trailblazers in pioneering a form of contemporary dance where disability is simply not an issue, and is instead something that can be embraced and integrated into a form of dance that has wowed countless audiences across the world.

A compilation of Candoco’s clips can be found on this video:

To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Candoco have put together a special production called Turning 20. Building on Candoco’s rich experience, it brings together dance through time and presents different ways of making dance.  Representing the stages of “the past”, “the present” and “the future” are three different choreographers; Trisha Brown, Rachid Ouramdane and Matthias Sperling who add their own unique styles to each aspect of the performance.

One of the key performing members of the Candoco team is Vicky Malin. Having grown up just outside of Reading and going through the life stages we can all probably relate to, Vicky describes to Disability Horizonsher amazing journey.

“I enjoyed drama and music at school, so I went on to do theatre studies at A-Level and for my degree. I considered doing something around theatre therapy but having just graduated, there were so many options. I worked as a support worker for one year before going travelling for 9 months, where I worked in an orphanage in Thailand for a while. I think this trip was a massive step towards Candoco, although I had no idea at this stage. Travelling built up my confidence to try scary things and go for new challenges. I would recommend travel and trying new things to anybody!”

When asked why and how dancing came into her life, Vicky said

“I had always enjoyed dance. When I returned from my travels I never imagined this door would open, but I decided to explore the options. Having cerebral palsy affecting the right-handside of my body I googled ‘dance for disabled people’. Many dance companies came up, but Candoco struck a chord with its inclusive approach. I have never let my disability define me and I worried some of the other companies would limit me.”

Vicky applied to Candoco’s foundation course and was accepted in 2005/6, where she comments that

“I learnt the basics of dance and fell in love with it immediately. I worked soon after for the Blue Eyed Soul Company and in some freelance dance roles, before returning to Candoco in 2007 – where it all began. I enjoy both performing and teaching through some of the workshops the company run. I may have had some luck along the way, but I believe my enhanced confidence from my earlier experiences and my ambition to achieve has been the main factor.”

We finally asked Vicky to share how things are currently going, and to share her hopes and dreams for the future. Vicky finished by saying

“I have been commissioned to perform a solo in the company’s upcoming show ‘Turning 20’. It will be a 15 minute solo piece encompassing everything I have learnt the past 6 years – it is a massive challenge. I constantly work on my technical ability and strength, while bringing some of my trained theatre skills to the fore. I have always encouraged others to aim high and I think I am living by this mantra too”.

Turning 20 will be premiering at The Lowry in Salford on 14th September and then in London on the 14th and 15th of October at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in the thriving cultural hub that is the South Bank Centre. The production will continue until 2013, and new performance dates are in the process of being added. Details of upcoming events can be found by clicking here.

Beyond Candoco’s headline performances at leading venues in the UK and beyond, the organisation invests considerable resources in engaging and developing tomorrow’s talent. From supporting two youth dance groups in London to running workshops around the country, Candoco has also recently succeeded in including one of their commissioned works as a part of the syllabus for students studying for a GCSE in Dance. An incredible achievement in itself.

You can bet that if one day there is a Turning 40 or Turning 50 or even a Turning 100(!) Candoco will continue successfully to translate its founding principles of inclusivity into brilliant and moving performances that impresses audiences around the world.

By Srin and Martyn

For more information on Candoco, please visit their website here.

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