This month Kate Newall went behind the scenes with the Artistic Director and Joint CEO of Dance City, Anthony Baker.
Can you give me a brief overview of what you do at Dance City?
Little bits of all sorts really. I am mainly the figurehead of the organisation, to show leadership, to develop the direction and the constituent parts of the organisation such as the education, the community outreach, the classes, artist development, to support the staff in delivering that vision, so making sure that everyone is clear about what their roles are, clear about what the company vision is, and helping them to deliver that vision. And dreaming up new ideas and supporting staff to dream as well.
What is your background? What did you do before you worked at Dance City?
I studied Theatre Design at Bretton Hall, and in my second year I went to watch the dance students. I was a 19 year old guy from a small village in the north of England and suddenly this whole world opened up before me. It made sense to me, it excited me, and I absolutely loved it. I spent the next 2 years of my degree working on theatre design for dance, and then a few years later I did a Masters in Scenography at Trinity Laban, where I also took some dance classes in order to understand the world of the dancer better. From there I worked in the ticket office at the Lowry Theatre, then moved into group bookings – this was fantastic experience as it gave me a real insight into audience behaviour. Then I worked at Gloucestershire Dance where I learnt so much about how to make dance work for everybody and how to get people involved in dance. Before dance City I was at Essex dance which I renamed Dance Digital.
What advice would you give someone if they wanted to become an Artistic Director?
To gather as much experience as you can, talk to as many people as you can, don’t be afraid to talk to other artists and directors and gather as much knowledge as you can. Go and see as much as you can, see as many shows as you can; theatre, opera, ballet, dance, everything. Always put yourself out there, whenever anyone needs a volunteer put yourself forward.
What hobbies/interests do you pursue outside of work?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as a work/life balance – my passion is dance, the arts and culture so even in my time off I enjoy that. I go to see films, and go to the football and the rugby. I live in the countryside and love to get out on my mountain bike, I find it invigorating.