Yael Owen-McKenna

Yaël Owen-McKenna trained at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance and her work invites all people to dance from where they are. This may be through drawing on their own experiences, coming from different context and places and, through their leadership and participation in democratic and co-created contexts.

Yaël’s current work is as Programme Director for Live Well & Dance with Parkinson’s at People Dancing and Development Director to Coventry Dance CIC, a strategic dance organisation with and for the dance communities of Coventry. In May 2020 she was part-time Course Director for BA (Hons) Dance at Coventry University.

Yaël has worked as a Relationship Manager at Arts Council England (Birmingham) with a portfolio including Dance and Disability. This is where she met Rachael and FRONTLINEdance for the first time, though she had heard about FRONTLINEdance before, hoped that she would work again with Rachael and the Company.  Yaël has also held Senior Leadership roles as Head/Deputy Head of Service at Coventry Music Education Hub and Arts Service, developing several socially engaged initiatives designed to enable children and young people to experience creative dance and music making.

Currently, Yaël is also Project Manager for ‘Say Man Take Heart’ a programme of Movement, Poetry and Creative Writing with people who are users of the UK/USA Criminal Justice System. Developed through an artist residency in the USA, the project has most recently worked with participants in HMP Stafford. The project will further develop its international links in 2020/21.

Yaël has undertaken post graduate research in disability dance. This is in the context of Special School programmes with dancers experiencing Severe, Profound and Multiple Learning Challenges; ‘Unique Bodies a Unique Dance’, this work is ongoing.

FRONTLINEdance welcomes Yaël  to the board at a time she feels able to take on the challenge as voluntary Chair and Director. She has a great deal to offer to the board and is committed to the development and support of people within their roles in this capacity. Yaël will advocate for FRONTLINEdance and through the mechanism of the board, as a collective, help to steer Rachael and the Company through an exciting (and challenging) next phase, securing the company and it’s work for the future.

Sophie Alder

Sophie has over 20 years of professional experience as a dancer and teacher working across different techniques and demographics in the community and professional sectors. Her current role at Northern Ballet as Artistic Learning Manager involves overseeing the artistic output of the department, ensuring consistent high quality, and mentoring the Dance Education Officers. Sophie set up and has led the Ability dance course for learning disabled adults at Northern Ballet for the past 8 years and is responsible for all aspects of the course from content and delivery to management and recruitment. The development of good inclusive dance practice and generating wider awareness of and platforms for disabled artists is a key concern of her work and one of her reasons for wanting to join the FRONTLINEdance Board.

As a freelance dance artist, Sophie has taught as a part-time dance lecturer at Leeds Beckett University, on the Northern School of Contemporary Dance CAT scheme, and regularly delivers Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT) classes in collaboration with Rosemary Spencer. Since May 2013, together, they have successfully run annual 5-day intensive dance course, Moving Landscapes, exploring SRT in the studio and outside in natural landscapes which attracts dance professionals, movement, and other creative practitioners from in and outside the UK.

Sophie has supported FRONTLINEdance for many years as an audience member and on a few occasions as a volunteer at performances and events. She greatly admires the consistent high quality of the work we produce, and our innovation and ambition. Sophie hopes that through volunteering as a Board Director (from July 2021), she will gain, personally, as much as she gives to the company. FRONTLINEdance looks forward to working with Sophie and welcoming her to our board.

Rachel Piekarczyk

Rachel Piekarczyk, is an academic dance practitioner specialising in dance facilitation, embodied learning and reflective practice. Based between the midlands and north-west of the UK, she has over fifteen years’ experience of working in contemporary dance and education, both nationally and internationally. Through Rachel’s work in higher education, professional performance contexts, community settings and other educational environments, she has acquired a diverse portfolio of performance, teaching, research and leadership experience. Rachel is currently in the process of completing a PhD in dance education and reflective practice and has been undertaking this alongside her work as a performer with the internationally recognised contemporary performance group, Reckless Sleepers.

Rachel is delighted to join the board of FRONTLINEdance as Voluntary Vice Chair and Director as she is passionate about inclusive dance practice, wellbeing and cultural regeneration; believing that these are values that FRONTLINEdance encompass through our innovative approaches to performance and community engagement. Rachel is looking forward to working with the other board members and the artistic team to steer the direction of the organisation and support their continuing growth.

Patsy Corcoran

In Patsy’s advocacy role she has worked in partnership with FRONTLINEdance and seen first-hand the huge difference this organisation makes in people’s lives; leading by example and providing opportunities for people to take part, developing skills, and growing in confidence as individuals and as creative artists.

Her recent ASD diagnosis has deepened her insight into her own autistic life and helped her to develop a greater understanding of some issues experienced by autistic individuals in terms of challenges, strengths and addressing stigma.

Patsy’s advocacy work over the last 30 years has focused on disabled people, supporting self-advocacy, and amplifying the voices of people. She advocates for equality and rights in both her personal and professional life, challenging negative attitudes and systematic inequalities in daily life, in the public arena and in her own neighbourhood.

Patsy is pleased to join this dynamic and creative organisation as a Voluntary Board Member (July 2021), and looks forward to supporting FRONTLINEdance to continue to grow and thrive. We look forward to all that Patsy can offer us, which is plentiful.

Mark Lewis

FRONTLINEdance welcomed Mark to join our voluntary board as a member in July 2021, as someone that can offer two quite different perspectives.

The first being from a personal perspective as a person with multiple chronic health conditions; over 40 years of direct experience, he can share his own experiences of living with a hidden disability and the affects from both a physical and mental point of view. He can bring his own personal experiences of NHS services and hospitals and can represent a patient perspective utilising national and local NHS services.

In addition to his own experiences, Mark is uncle of a niece with Down Syndrome and Autism. He can call on experiences of a growing child with dual diagnosis, learning disabilities, development needs and physical difficulties.  The importance of inclusive programs and therapies, adaptive communication, recognition development and journey of discovery.

The second perspective is from a professional background with over 20 years’ experience as a business analyst with a proven track record of successful programme and project management, continuous improvement, change management, and business analysis.

Mark’s personal attributes are that he is methodical, analytical, diligent, consistent, and discerning in his work. This enables him to empathise within a group, or persist independently, as someone who is self-motivating. Great skills for a board!

Mark is looking forward to contributing to board matters, effective networking building on objectives by influencing and motivating other to become champions, and offering continuous support and improvement to FRONTLINEdance.

Laura Cantliff

Laura is a dance artist, disability advocate and prolific coffee drinker currently based in Devon. Alongside her dance practice, she is also conducting PhD research that focuses on performance training processes for disabled students. As a neurodivergent person, she has made it her mission to contribute to the making of accessible theatre and promote work that raises awareness for and celebrates neurodiversity. As a person who was born and grew up in Stoke-on -Trent, admiring the Company from afar, she is delighted to now be a part of FRONTLINEdance as a voluntary board member and is excited to represent and support her community.

FRONTLINEdance looks forward to Laura’s contribution.

Eleanor Babb

Eleanor has over ten years’ experience managing hospital arts programmes including participatory work with service users and patients, live music and enhancement projects. She recently took up a new post working with Air Arts as their Arts Co-Ordinator based at Queens Hospital Burton but also covering the Sir Robert Peel Hospital at Tamworth and the Samuel Johnson Hospital in Lichfield. Prior to that Eleanor worked in the Arts for Health team at Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust working to support mental health service users in which FRONTLINEdance performed as part of its hospital tour. Before that, she worked as a freelance creative practitioner for four years delivering arts projects often based around photography in a range of educational and health settings as well as working as a professional photographer. It was as a photographer Eleanor first encountered FRONTLINEdance, where she has taken many brilliant photos for us.

Eleanor joins the board as a voluntary member and is keen to support and learn from FRONTLINEdance believing we deliver very high-quality, inspiring, and creative work that improves people’s lives.

Andrew Riley

Andrew Riley is a pragmatic and experienced business consultant, adviser, and trainer. He delivers in a very practical hands-on style based on his many year’s experience of business and management.

He has sector experience of transport, logistics, manufacturing, software development, professional services, local government, education, and the creative industries. As well as providing business consultancy and advice, Andrew has been a visiting lecturer at Warwick University, an IiP practitioner, skills assessor, and external verifier. Andrew has worked with several organisations, including Chambers of Commerce, to support pre-start and fledgling businesses to develop and grow. Current and recent projects include supporting a group of studio potters in business development and a Home Office funded project to assist entrepreneurial refugees.

Andrew first met FRONTLINEdance in 2017 as part of Creative United’s Prosper Programme. FRONTLINEdance welcomes Andrew as a voluntary board director. Andrew thinks FRONTLINEdance does a great job, and is looking forward to supporting us.

Dr Melanie Brierley

With her practice embedded in the arts in community health, Melanie works as a dance artist, researcher, trainer, and ISMETA registered somatic movement educator/therapist at Conscious Bodies. Mel has spent the last decade exploring somatic dance and movement practices with people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

Melanie’s focus is on people who live with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, Dementia, Stroke, and Muscular Dystrophy in their homes, community groups, residential/nursing homes, and outdoor spaces. Through her doctoral research (University of Roehampton, 2020), she investigated somatically informed, one to one, co-creative, and home-based dance practice as a unique response to supporting health and self-care in the Parkinson’s community.

Melanie is a Churchill Fellow of 2014 (Arts and Older People), and from its inception, a ‘practice group’ member of Dance and Parkinson’s Partnerships UK. She co-developed Arts and Dementia training with colleagues from Pioneer Projects for care-givers, volunteers, activity workers in care homes, and project leaders from the Cumbria Museums and Art Galleries Consortium.