Ideas Fund 2021 winners announced

Image by permission of tyroneisaacstuart

On Thursday 22 July 2021, 15 independent dance artists and producers pitched online, in a Dragon’s Den style contest, to a panel of their peers representing the fund’s supporting partners for bursaries of up to £5,000 plus in-kind support to research, test or launch new artistic and entrepreneurial ideas.

Bursaries totalling £15,000 and in-kind support were awarded to six outstanding dance creatives, as part of East London Dance’s 2021 Ideas Fund.

This year’s Ideas Fund partners are Dancers’ Career Development, East London Dance, English National Ballet, One Dance UK, Redbridge Drama Centre, Sadler’s Wells, Stratford Circus, Studio 3 Arts and Studio Wayne McGregor.

2021 Fund Winners:

Alex Aina & Iain Bleakley (#Unity)

Alex & Iain are dancers and organisers from #Unity: a collective of dancers, artists and DJs connecting the underground music and dance communities.


Awarded £3,000 and event space in-kind from East London Dance to curate and host a one of a kind international ‘break film’ festival followed by live dance sharings. A dance piece which examines a male relationship through breakin’, humour, and conversation will be developed to premiere there. 

Chisato Minamimura

Chisato Minamimura is deaf performance artist, choreographer and BSL art guide, born in Japan, now based in London. Her work presents perspectives in sensorial ways.
@chisatominamimura | @CMinamimura | @OFFICIALChisatoMinamimura |

Pitch project: Deaf Soundscape
Awarded £3,500 and event space for a public sharing in-kind from East London Dance, to explore the concept of visual soundscapes from Chisato’s perspective as a deaf choreographer, challenging the assumptions of who can create sound, and what this may look, sound or feel like should the leading perspective be a non-hearing one. 

Esme Benjamin (KWAM Collective)

KWAM Collective is a group of independent artists from the fields of dance, digital art and therapeutic bodily practices, exploring the body, trauma and society.
@kwamcollective | 

Pitch project: What is a Body?

Awarded £1,500, two weeks of rehearsal space from Redbridge Drama Centre and a place on Dancers’ Career Development’s Beyond Dance Mentoring Scheme, to support a transdisciplinary outreach programme for self-identified women with an experience of racial, physical and psychological trauma. ‘What is a Body?’ offers in-person and digital workshops which involve combined methodologies of dance, somatic practice, movement direction and movement psychotherapy.

Shashamani Jackson & Ophelia O’Sullivan (A LOOK INTO)

Shashamani and Ophelia are a dance filmmaking duo under A LOOK INTO, a production company focusing on underrepresented stories and filmmakers.
@alookinto_@im_shashamani | @opheliaosullivan

Pitch project: Black Ballerinas
Awarded £3,000 to support a project in which three ballerinas share their world discussing what it means to be Black in a pink space, self-choreographing dance pieces to use movement to reflect their experiences. Black Ballerinas is a documentary aimed to shed light, but to also inspire a future generation of dancers.


tyroneisaacstuart is an interdisciplinary artist who uses Jazz music, Krump & contemporary dance to create audio-visual experiences.

Pitch project: S!CK

Awarded £4,000 to develop a selection of music & dance classes for tyroneisaacstuart’s creative practice (called S!CK). tyroneisaacstuart also intends to film choreographic & literary scores for his upcoming debut album and artist book (called STAB). 

Nigel Guérin-Garnett

Nigel is an interdisciplinary practice-led researcher, working at the collision of choreography and fashion-tech to investigate human-computer relationships through AI-affected creative processes.
@ngueringarnett | @ngueringarnett

Pitch project: Machinatia

Awarded one week of rehearsal space from Studio Wayne McGregor to support a research experiment that champions contemporary dance as a living wake-up call illustrated through choreography and performance developed with instructive technology, to support sole ownership of our future physical identities.

Molly Sanders, Programme Director of East London Dance and Chair of the Ideas Fund judging panel, said: “Innovation, fresh ideas and entrepreneurialism are thriving in the UK independent dance sector, as today’s Ideas Fund shortlist showed us. The panel were impressed by every single pitch and inspired to witness the passion and expertise behind each project. As in previous years, the decision-making process was tough, but the winners demonstrate a breadth of projects that are future-facing and show tangible impact. Uniting factors in those awarded, were the originality of their ideas, their commitment to make positive change for others and to address underrepresentation in dance and wider society, along with a rich practice in collaboration. We can’t wait to support them in their ongoing journeys and to see their projects develop both in and beyond east London.”

Over the past five years a total of £60,000 plus in-kind support has been awarded through the Ideas Fund, supporting 20 artists and their creative projects to reach over audiences of more than 111,000 people, working with over 3000 participants and fundraising an additional £247,000 investment in their ideas.

The 15 shortlisted artists and producers for 2021 were: