Interview: Brendan Keaney, Greenwich Dance [BDE 2012]

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Brendan Keaney

Brendan Keaney is Director of Greenwich Dance, a busy centre for both professional and community dance in Greenwich, South-East London. As well as classes and workshops for all levels, the organisation also presents work in the unusual space of the Borough Hall, including a popular monthly Cabaret night.

“The original organising and curating group for British Dance Edition 2012 came together at the suggestion of both Kiki Gale [ East London Dance ] and myself. We’d been thinking about 2012 and the Olympics, with us both being in Olympic host boroughs, and it seemed very obvious BDE should be in London in 2012. We’ve been around the table since Day One, putting the bid together and then the programme with the other partners.

Greenwich Dance is a meeting place for professional artists and the local community; it’s a dance space as opposed to simply a venue – with a focus on participation and production as well as presentation. I think one of the reasons Greenwich Dance is located here is because for some time now there’s been a growing active dance community. Since the late 1970s, many people who came to study at Laban and moved into this area created a sort of organic dance community as they stayed on. So there’s a concentration of active and exciting dance artists who actually live in South-East London, and there’s a lot of people who enjoy dancing across London. It’s our 20th anniversary next year and Laban will be celebrating ten years in their new building, so the next 12 months will be a big moment for dance in South East London!

“There’s a massive concentration of dance artists in London compared to anywhere else in the UK or even in Europe. London also has huge diversity of practice – there’s a lot of different types of dance going on at different levels, fantastic developments in South Asian dance, amazing African People’s dance . London is also generally culturally exciting; it’s a stimulating place for dance artists. Given there’s a lot of work to see – exciting international work, as well as our own product – it’s a great place to be fed if you’re interested in dance!

“There’s such a lot of different stuff in London, it’s a collection of villages and small communities and they all have different selling points. I would say you’ve got to go to some of London’s street markets because you get a real sense of London – Borough, Columbia Road, Brick Lane, Spitalfields. And everyone should come to a Greenwich Dance Cabaret !

“If I was visiting London in 2012 I’d want to take a look at the Olympic village and stadium; the transformation in a few years has been extraordinary. And go to the Wolsey in Mayfair for afternoon tea – it’s a lovely place to visit!”

Get down to Brendan’s place for the City to City Cabaret on Thu 2 February, featuring dance artists from Sofia, Zagreb, Athens and the UK – and a tea dance with an American theme on Sat 28 January. More details:

Interview: Lise Smith

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