Hop! A new tour planned for September

Whilst the rich partied like the world was about to end the Lindy Hoppers danced like it was the beginning of a new one, a place where everyone can shine!

This term, our amazing trainees have begun work on preparation for a tour and series of workshops.

Trainees will perform ‘HOP’ – a show inspired by 1930s America and the wild jazz of Lindy Hop. This style of music celebrates each persons unique style of dance – the Lindy Hoppers danced their way through racial divisions and social inequality.

Through this unique style of dance, dancers with different physical and learning disabilities integrate and celebrate each others individuality. The show evokes the spirit and music of the time to bring together something truly amazing for audiences to experience. The tour aims to challenge perceptions of disabled dancers and will run from Autumn 17 to Summer 2018.

The tour is made possible through funding from The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and The Arsenal Foundation. We would like to give our huge thanks to them for their ongoing support of our work.

If you wish to find out more or book a date for the tour to visit you please contact us on 01582 621947.

New funding secured!

We are pleased to announce that we were successful in securing further funding from The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation. A grant of £50,000 has been awarded to us over three years.

We are also pleased to announce that we were successful in securing further funding from the Arsenal Foundation. A grant of £12,668 will be awarded to us over two years. Both grants will support the new tour starting later in 2017.

I’m raising money for ActOne

My name is David Richardson. I am 43. I live in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex.  I’ve been a participant at ActOne for five years. I have cerebral palsy – I am deaf and partially sighted,  but I have never let my conditions contain my aspirations. Aged just seven,  I joined SNAP Theatre, being the only person with disabilities in the group.In 1999 I graduated with a 2:1 in Politics   from University of Essex.  During my studies I developed bipolar disorder.

In 2005, I joined Youth Create, an inclusive  youth development theatre in Sawbrigeworth, Herts. Youth Create opened many doors – leading  me to Act One, a dance and performance charity where ability, not disability is put centre stage.

“The company has created a space, where my condition is challenged and I can challenge my condition.”

I’m now raising much needed funds for Act One. I am embarking upon an ambitious 2.5km swim in September. I hope to raise £5,000.  “The company is a family – everyone can learn from and help each other, whilst having fun”

Please plunge deep into your pockets, making waves in support of our life-changing work, Help the magic to continue, step by step.

To donate, visit my JustGiving page.

Changing our name to Silverbirch

I am very pleased to announce that after much consideration we have now agreed on a brand new name for ActOne, Silverbirch

Our new name will be used in conjunction with our vision statement: We put ability, not disability, centre stage

As you may know a name change has been on the cards for some years. The name ActOne ArtsBase, whilst standing us in good stead for the past 15 years, lacked clarity. People often mistake us for an “Arts Space”!

We started as ‘ActOne’, with a focus predominantly on drama and physical theatre. A few years down the line we added ‘ArtsBase’ to reflect the varied arts activities that we provided. Under the ActOne umbrella we have named individual projects ‘DanceBase’ ‘UV’ “Work In Progress’ and many others. While giving each project an individual identity, this has proved confusing to those who are not intimately involved in our work, and sometimes even to those that do know us well!

Our name needs to be something that while reflecting elements of our ethos, is beautiful and memorable. Silver birch trees have an ongoing evolutionary cycle. They provide shelter in forests where things are able to grow and be nourished. The Silver birch itself has many branches. A birch tree is strong, beautiful and elegant. It also is key to nourishing other plants and trees. We felt that the birch tree is a brilliant symbol of our mission.


We’ll be using the new name from September in publicity and stationary, and getting new t-shirts and sweatshirts printed. The website will be transferred in August to silverbirchdance.com. I hope you enjoy the new name and help us to let everyone know the change is happening!


The Farias Technique

Since 1996, Dr Joaquin Farias has been working on providing alternative complementary care for people affected by movement disorders. He believes some neurological conditions make the brain “forget” how to move correctly. Dr Farias has developed a movement therapy which induces the brain to relearn how to move. One of the exercises involves the use of dance to overcome the involuntary reflex that causes spasms in dystonia.

Dr Farias worked with Suzie in Vienna in May 2015 with jaw dropping results. Suzie was slowly recovering movement through her own dance practice. Therapy with Dr Farias sped up her recovery dramatically and gave her ways to manage some of the worst spasms without medication. After just four days of exercises, Suzie was striding confidently and even dancing on her feet. She still periodically needs to use a wheelchair, or use crutches and props to balance, but her increased mobility and ability to manage the symptoms of dystonia have been life changing.

Dr Farias was interested in Suzie’s expertise teaching dance. With her help, Dr Farias hopes to expand the potential of his technique to benefit people with any sort of movement impairment. By incorporating the movement therapies into dance workshops, they will make the technique accessible to people of any age or ability.

Suzie and Dr Farias will jointly be working with the trainees in March. We are delighted that Dr Farias has agreed to volunteer his time to share his approach with the Trainees of Work In Progress and are extremely grateful for this rare and exciting opportunity!

Dance Unstuck

Our Artistic Director and founder Suzie Birchwood has been working with Jürg Koch and GDance to develop a universal approach to teaching ballet. Suzie will be helping Jürg to adapt the ballet syllabus for different bodies, to create an online resource for ballet teachers, and to campaign for ballet examination boards to adapt their assessment criteria.

This is a fantastic project with the potential to change ballet forever. Suzie will be bringing the knowledge back to the ActOne team, so that they can add it to the repertoire of ballet exercises they are already teaching. We’ll make sure our dancers enjoy all the benefits of this exciting approach to formal dance technique. Watch the video:


Farewell friends

We said an emotional goodbye to some of our fantastic team of support workers Jai, Carli, Kat and Maddy at the last DanceBase of term on the 1st and 2nd of December. They were all very popular with the dancers, and contributed hugely to the success of DanceBase performances and sessions. We wish them well in their careers as inclusive dance practitioners.

Farewell friend

If you’d like to support our vital work, please consider donating or see other ways you can help to raise funds.

Santa pops in

Santa’s busy, but not too busy to see the dancers at DanceBase. He called in at DanceBase Ware and DanceBase Watford to give some gifts to some very special dancers, and was very happy to hear about the progress they’ve made since last year. Thanks santa!