The Pictures Tell The Story

In The Kingdom That Danced

(c) David Wardle

Myrna Venters ‘In The Kingdom That Danced’

Some beautiful photos from the Scottish project from the Performance Ensemble (Fife Performance Ensemble) In The Kingdom That Danced

The Fife Performance Ensemble (FPE) was established in September 2013 and in its first year successfully engaged a group of 30+ over 60s in creating a performance and installation in collaboration with Internationally renowned artists.

(c) David Wardle

Gerry Mulgrew in The Kingdom That Danced

The resulting work was performed at Pathhead Hall in Kirkcaldy in October 2013, in conjuction with Luminate, Scotland’s Creative Ageing Festival.

(c) David Wardle

Gypsy Hip Hop from In The Kingdom That Danced

The success of this first programme resulted in the development of ‘In the Kingdom That Danced’ which sought to build on the first programme and delivered a high quality performance piece which worked between community, amateur and professional arts practise engaging people over the age of 60 from the heart of the community and creating site sensitive and immersive, performance work in which the audiences contributed to the performance

(c) David Wardle

More Gypsy Hip Hop from ‘In The Kingdom That Danced’

The creation of this new piece of site sensitive performance work was performed 3 times over during the Luminate Festival in October 2014 at The Glen Pavilion in Dunfermline. We involved over 150 participants aged over 60 over the period of the project. Starting in June 2014 we ran 42 workshops to encourage new participants to get involved. We ran a week-long summer school in August which attracted 35 participants and then rehearsals 4 times a week from the end of August in different locations until the performances. 38 people were in the final performance.


Paco ‘In The Kingdom That Danced’

We ran a workshops programme in Dunfermline, Lochgelly, Glenrothes and Kirkcaldy with the Summer School in Kirkcaldy and the rehearsals in Dunfermline, Lochgelly and Glenrothes encouraging people over the age of 60 from a wide location in South East and South West Fife

(c) David Wardle

The Princesses from In The Kingdom That Danced prepare to go out for the night

We gathered over 100 stories from the community participants, which has been collated into an art installation by local artist Alan Grieve and published on social media. We worked with Fife College Media College on sound recording and photography

(c) David Wardle

The Princesses trying on their shoes

FPE’s way of working is designed to create a new style of professional/community contemporary theatre that emerges slowly from a community. Successfully occupying the space between community, amateur and professional arts, recognising that each sector has a lot to learn from the others.

(c) David Wardle

Betty Cunningham  is nervous ‘In The Kingdom That Danced’

We want to continue to engage older community participants in high quality artistic processes which will provide them with personal and social fulfilment. In this phase of the project, we wish to engage more participants and create further outputs from the project which will lead to an enhanced experience for the community participants and the professionals involved.

(c) David Wardle

Sally and Sandy ‘In The Kingdom That Danced’

FPE created an ensemble of equals with everyone encouraged and supported to contribute their unique view of the world where they can celebrate those small, seemingly insignificant moments of life and express their meaning in a word, a touch, a glance or a movement. We will use the project to advocate to partners the opportunity to develop a lasting legacy establishing FPE as a permanent company

Liz Banks 'In The Kingdom That Danced'

Liz Banks ‘In The Kingdom That Danced’


(c) David Wardle

The audience dancing ‘In The Kingdom That Danced’

All Photos © David Wardle





Dancing Days

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Occupying the Space between Professional, Amateur

and Community Arts

I just found this report from the DCMS (Department of Culture, Media and Sport)


It seems to support my thinking that there are many things to learn in

The space between Community, Amateur and Professional Arts Programmes

I was exploring this notion in my latest project ‘Dancing Days’ in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland

Dancing Days Poster stamp02

Born out of a belief that there are amazing stories to be heard from the dance halls of Fife we created a new theatre company, Fife Performance Ensemble as an off-shoot of my new company The Performance Ensemble – an ensemble company of performers over the age of 60.

We began a search to find those memories and to meet the dancers and the musicians who had played in the many dance halls around Fife in the 1950’s and 1960’s, notably the Burma Ballroom in Kirkcaldy.

It inspired, informed, and shaped the beginnings of a brand new piece of theatre, Dancing Days, which we will continue to work on for another year before opening it  in October 2014.  

In this project we will occupy the space between community, amateur and professional arts working with people from each of those areas to create an ensemble of equals, bringing different skills and experiences to the process.

An Ensemble of Equals

The project was organised by Fife Cultural Trust and was initiated by local writer Stuart Paterson, designer Neil Murray and myself  – who have been working together for 25 years – with local people who have reached the age of 60. Some of the people we worked with were from the local amateur dramatic societies, some were people who danced at social dances across Fife and others were members of the local community who had little or no experience of participatory arts but who brought their own uniqueness to the project.

We have been very lucky. The communities around Kirkcaldy are very interconnected – word of mouth got around very quickly, and with this place having such a strong community, it grows.

From attending the afternoon tea dances at the Adam Smith Theatre, I began to discover many more classes in Fife, including dances at Burntisland, Buckhaven, Windygates and The Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation  (CISWO) in Glenrothes. All were eye openers for me. When you walk in, it hits you.

There’s something so special about that feeling you get at these dances. I hope that’s what our theatre piece will reflect, authentic theatre from the heart of communities .

(c) David Wardle

The first performances of Dancing Days was a short musical theatre piece informed by and created from the people who attended Fife’s dance halls. Passages were written by Stuart Paterson and locals Tom Young and Bob Christie, it was directed by me and designed by Neil Murray with a community cast from across Fife. Live music from some of the original Burma Ballroom band members joined with dancers from local dance groups lead by professional dance teacher Betty Cunningham.

This version was  ‘work in progress’ and lasted  just over an hour. Over the next year the plan is to develop the production, with the participants, into a full-length theatre piece involving a number of professional, amateur and community based practitioners to create an ensemble that makes theatre of the highest standard.

Making contemporary theatre – created by older performers – for audiences of all ages.

(c) David Wardle

Dancing Days was first performed on Mon 28th,  Tues 29th and Wed 30th October, at Pathhead Hall, Kirkcaldy.

The project was funded by Creative Scotland and Fife Cultural Trust with support from Luminate Festival and Fife College.


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