To celebrate #InternationalDanceDay on 29th April, we’re partnering with the team at Merseyside Dance Initiative to help create awareness about the value and importance of dance as an art form.
Martina Murphy, Director of MDI has selected a handful of memorable photographs from their 27 year history that reflects their programme as they honour the power of dance. Alongside her colleague Sinéad Nunes, Murphy has provided a commentary the selection, giving us fabulous window into the many facets of MDI’s work.

Sinéad Nunes of MDI said:

It’s so exciting to be invited to collaborate with Bido Lito! on this new series, and what better time than International Dance Day! We’ve chosen these images because they tell the MDI story, celebrating the power of dance; connecting people of all ages to be creative, expressive and using our beautiful city as the canvas, the backdrop to dance.

MDI has been inspiring people to dance for 27 years and a huge part of that work starts early with children and young people. Our Community Dance Artists work in school settings, with community groups, and now online – creating dance that is accessible, fun and promotes movement as a tool for education across the curriculum. Dance takes away social barriers and it’s gorgeous to see this play out amongst young people; dissolving the inhibitions of shy teens, or letting boys and young men know that movement is for them too.


2012 Olympics. “This image is from a 2012 project inspired by the London 2012 Olympics, and shows what we can do when we come together to create something epic! Hundreds of kids and adults from across the region took over Liverpool One in a huge dance party, giving a real sense of what’s possible when we collaborate.”


Collaboration. “The look on the kid’s face at the front says it all… dance is fun and there’s no better feeling than to just let yourself be in the moment and embrace life. This photo was taken was before my time as Director, and it’s a brilliant example of the many projects we do with partners, from festivals to other cultural organisations. Brouhaha have been our city colleagues and collaborators for a while, alongside other brilliant dance and performance organisations like Movema and Brazilica. In recent years, this way of collaborative working has become more and more important, with so much competition for funding.”

"Watching someone in their 90s light up and start moving to a familiar song is why we do what we do."

LEAP Fringe. “This photo reflects a proud moment when everything came together for the first-ever LEAP Fringe Festival. Last year, we worked with emerging dance artists from across the region to create two days of free dance programming, animating Hope Street from the Metropolitan Cathedral all the way to A Case History (better known locally as the Hope Street Suitcases) – a pub crawl of pop-up performances if you like! The energy on Hope Street that night was electric. It was the first time we’d tried this, working with LIPA to empower young people to produce and manage a key element of the festival. We weren’t sure if it would work, but BOOM! It took off and a magical dance journey started. James Bowling, the creative behind this piece is part of the new generation of artists we’re supporting through our Talent Hub, launched earlier this year.”


Taciturn. “Taciturn are a local dance company featuring one of our current Talent Hub artists, Jen Rees, our wonderful colleague (Community Dance Artist) Jennie Hale and artist Jenna Jungbluth. Presenting work since 2006, they’ve been on such a journey and been part of so many LEAP or other MDI events in some way. It’s brilliant to watch artists we know and love flourish over time, especially because Talent is the second of MDI’s key strands of programme. Developing North West artists is an ongoing and essential part of what we do as an organisation, with homegrown talent going on to work with major touring companies, performing nationally, or teaching the next generation in our studio home on Hope Street.”


Big Dance Pledge. “This epic landmark, filled with so many people dancing together, making friends, learning new skills and moving for the love of it shows that dance is for everyone, and brings people from diverse communities together. The bi-annual Big Dance Pledge took place for ten years, underpinning our ongoing community work of participatory events, projects and performances.”


Ronnie. “This photo is pure joy! For me, this says it all: dance is for life and you’re never too old to learn. Have a go, whether you’re looking to get fit or develop a new skill. Every week we work with at least four groups dedicated to older generations, and Ronnie Maguire (pictured) has been coming to our 50 Moves classes for 15 years! The success of these classes for over 50s inspired us to create a class for men over 50 too, and Men!Dancing! have since performed at Sadler’s Wells, amongst other festivals and outdoor events across the city. We’re committed to promoting healthy ageing, and the research that’s out there says it all. Our weekly classes Dance For Parkinson’s (with English National Ballet) and Physiotherapy Through Dance (with The Brain Charity, for people living with Dementia) regularly bring a tear to the eye: watching someone in their 90s light up and start moving to a familiar song is why we do what we do.”

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