Albert Meijer
Advisor Culture - Creative Europe
a.meijer [at] dutchculture.nl

Creative Europe projects: a mix of theatre, urban dance and choreography in Mind Ur Step

The Creative Europe project Mind Ur Step.
Mind Ur Step

Creative Europe projects: a mix of theatre, urban dance and choreography in Mind Ur Step

Mind Ur Step was a European collaborative project in the field of theatre, urban dance and choreography.
By Albert Meijer

The publication Creative Europe 2014 - 2020 contains an overview of the Dutch participation in the Creative Europe programme during this period. It not only presents the statistics but also explores the stories behind the projects that were supported. One of the projects to receive support was Mind Ur Step, a collaborative project in the field of theatre, urban dance and choreography. We interviewed Jade Schiff, who was in charge of the project on behalf of the Dutch foundation Roots & Routes. This foundation was active in urban dance but also made up part of the international Roots & Routes network. Mind Ur Step was set up with other partners in this network and with venues including Maas theater en dans in Rotterdam and Koninklijke Vlaams Schouwburg (KVS) in Brussels.

Bridge the gap

"With Mind Ur Step we aimed to bridge the gap between urban dance and theatre. Before applying to Creative Europe I attended a debate organised on this theme in Rotterdam. Urban dancers could not understand why theatres did not welcome them in, and theatres conversely were reluctant to programme urban dance performances.

Soon after I saw the piece The Roots by the French choreographer Kader Attou, and I was hugely impressed. It was a high-quality piece that did manage to merge these two worlds, and it has been touring the world for a number of years. How come this was possible in France, but not in the Netherlands?”

Jade Schiff, Roots & Routes, Mind ur Step
Jade Schiff
Jade Schiff

Learning from other countries

“I had submitted applications to Erasmus+ before and had also participated in projects of the Culture programme, which was the precursor to Creative Europe. These projects varied from small-scale youth exchanges to large international productions. But this was the first application I submitted to Creative Europe.

Our goal was to establish ties with organisations in other countries to help link together urban dance and theatre, to learn from what has already proven successful in a country like France, and to exchange experiences. Additionally, we wanted to provide the dancers participating in our project with the artistic, commercial and productional tools with which to create their own work and in that way to work on their career.”

How come this was possible in France, but not in the Netherlands?

Good collaboration

“I thought that the collaboration between the partners within the Creative Europe project [see below, eds.] was very good, even though we were a small organisation working with much larger organisations such as Maas and KVS, for whom the Mind Ur Step project was just a very small part of their overall activities. Since I had some experience in leading international projects, I accepted to be in charge. I very much enjoyed working with the partners towards a certain result, and to keep everyone involved and on the same page, even though it took a lot of work. You need to be very aware of what you’re starting on when submitting a project application to Creative Europe. There’s still a lot you need to do once the project is up and running. I found the reporting and financial aspects of leading the project very frustrating at times, but it was definitely worth the effort since we did manage to run a good project.

The project formally ended in 2019, but we continued to tour with the show after that and we also made a documentary. Our final show was supposed to take place in Belgium last year, but it didn’t happen because of corona. Our plans to organise a reunion for all the participants and choreographers and to set up a follow-up project through the international branch of the Cultural Participation Fund also fell through for the same reason.”

Caption (only if not already provided by the media item)
Mind Ur Step Show Teaser 2019

Big impact

“Our project has nevertheless had a big impact. Various young makers in the Netherlands have continued down the same path, for instance through a development programme at Maas. One of the participants started organising dance evenings, with the support of the Performing Arts Fund NL, and former participants in other countries are also successfully making own work.

The Roots & Routes still exists as a network, but not anymore as a Dutch foundation. I am now working as business manager at Lloyd Marengo’s Lloydscompany, which was also involved in the project. We are trying to continue in the same line there. As it happens, we are soon offering a series of workshops inspired by Mind Ur Step. So we are continuing with the effort at a local level, by offering support, workshops and presentation events for young people, so that they can present their work.”

Approach the Creative Europe Desk and participate in their workshops. I experienced that support as truly important

Jade Schiff's tip

“I do have a tip for organisations considering to submit an application, but who feel that it’s daunting or inaccessible: approach the Creative Europe Desk and participate in their workshops. I experienced that support as truly important. I had actually never thought that we would succeed, but I’m happy we just went for it, for the support we received enabled us to run a splendid project in Europe for all of two years!”

About the project

Project: Mind Your Step, Connecting Urban Dance and Theatres
Project leader: Stichting Roots & Routes
Dutch partners: Stichting Roots & Routes, Rotterdam; Stichting Maas Theater en Dans
Participating countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany
Discipline: Theatre and Dance
Duration: 1 June 2017 - 1 June 2019
Scheme: Small-scale collaborative projects
Allocation Creative Europe: € 196,253

Read this article in Dutch

Are you interested in participating in the Creative Europe Culture programme? Please contact our advisor Albert Meijer.

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