A 30th Anniversary Celebration of Why People Dance

In a delightful synergy of spoken and written storytelling, Dancefest draws together a treasury of uplifting, life-affirming testimonies, exploring the reasons why people dance.

These five podcasts, produced by Sara Conkey (BBC Radio Producer) and accompanying written stories, form part of Dancefest's 30th anniversary celebrations (1990-2020) and include people who have been part of that history; as participant, artist, audience, friend.

You can listen to Why I Dance on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, TuneIn - or click on the links below.

Dance and Joy - Rose Beeston

With contributions from Dancefest participants, performers, team leaders, guest professionals and friends; Shelley Eva Haden, Penny Perrett, Clare Wood, Jen Irons, Jill Parry-Okeden, Lucy Dennison, Michele Holder, Penny Marriott, John Taylor, Elizabeth Crosswell, Jayne Glendinning, Rachel Freeman and Janene Wyatt.

Rose Beeston is artistic director and founder of Dancefest. It started as a two week festival in 1990 to profile dance in education, community and performance, becoming an independent organisation in 2000 with Rose as the manager. Since then things have grown, but maintained the community dance ethos – offering work that is of high quality and accessible.

Dance and Empowerment - Shelley Eva Haden

Shelley Eva Haden is a professional independent dance artist, choreographer and educator based in Birmingham.

She danced with Dancefest throughout her teen years until she went to study for her degree at Northern Contemporary Dance School.

She returns to her roots often, to perform and lead special Masterclass workshops in creative contemporary dance.

Dance and Friendship - Rachel Freeman

Rachel Freeman was founder of Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company and has been a leading UK exponent of inclusive aerial and community dance for over two decades.

She is now Lead Artist of EVERYBODY DANCE, based in north-east Herefordshire, and builds on her international experience working in collaboration with other artists to provide opportunities to dance.

Dance and Healing - Jayne Glendinning & Jess Allen

Jayne Glendinning is a long-time participant and friend of Dancefest, a member of our Chance to Dance Company and dances regularly in weekly Hereford-based classes.

Jess Allen is an aerialist and dancer living and working in Wales. Her relationship with Dancefest was mainly Herefordshire-based; participating, dancing and performing in many projects and events before taking up dance studies professionally to perform, facilitate and teach.

Dance and Transformation - Jennifer Irons

Jennifer Irons is an award-winning choreographer, director and performer who first became a friend of Dancefest in 2012 as choreographer of 12 Moves; a large scale Cultural Olympiad project which took place across Worcestershire.

It involved performers of all ages in a wide range of settings and locations, culminating in an open air performance in Worcester, including dance, film, art, sound, light, projection and hundreds of performers.



Woman dancing by the sea with arms outstretched


Photo: Penny Marriott, taken by her daughter, Millie

You may also like to read our written stories and find out more about Why I Dance

Dancefest receives financial assistance from The Elmley Foundation to support the Why I Dance project

The Elmley Foundation