Audio Description and Touch Tours at Northern Ballet #ADA
The first blog by Rachel Evans (Communications) and Sam Moore (Learning) at Northern Ballet as part of their Fellowship at the Audience Diversity Academy
At Northern Ballet we pride ourselves on being the widest touring ballet company in the UK. We create and tour new ballets inspired by literature, legend, opera and the classics, pushing the boundaries of what stories can be told through dance – from Dracula to 1984, The Great Gatsby to The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
We deliver live Audio Described performances (ADs) and Touch Tours, where visually impaired patrons can feel the props and costumes and be guided through moves from our ballets, across many of our large-scale touring venues. In a unique offer for a ballet company, these are both co-written and delivered by ex-Premier Dancer Pippa Moore, in partnership with Vocaleyes. Pippa said:
‘I feel very privileged to share the beauty and escapism of dance in this way, making it accessible to everyone, regardless of any additional needs they may have. What initially drew me to Northern Ballet long ago, was my love of narrative dance. It was the drama and emotion of portraying the ballet’s characters that captured my imagination and held my interest throughout an extensive career. I find I’m still telling stories now, maybe a little differently... but in an equally rewarding and fascinating way!’
Our motivations for joining the ADA focused on three areas of our work, ADs and Touch Tours, performances in community venues and Expressions, our festival of inclusive dance. After a discussion with our mentor Sarah Boiling, we decided to focus our time in the ADA solely on ADs and Touch Tours to give us the time we needed for plenty of scrappy experiments!
To find our feet, we decided upon two overall goals for our time with the ADA relating to ADs and Touch Tours:
- Increase attendance by 20% vs 2019 for our Audio Described performances and Touch Tours in spring 2020
- Put in place work that we can build on every season so we can improve attendance at ADs and Touch Tours in the long term
We’ve already begun to plan what experiments we could do to achieve these goals plus some milestone achievements along the way and are excited to get started properly!
Rachel Evans (Communications) and Sam Moore (Learning) at Northern Ballet