Founders, Louise and Lucy have been best dance mates since meeting as youth dancers in 1993 with Gloucestershire Dance, (later renamed GDance.)
In 1994 they took part in a Candoco Dance Company summer residency, experiencing inclusive dance for the first time. The resulting performance piece, Velcro, choreographed by Adam Benjamin and company dancers was the basis for many more years of inclusive dance practice and even TV stardom with the group appearing on Blue Peter in 1996!
In those early days neither Louise nor Lucy realised that these formative experiences would influence both their professional journeys from then on, but their shared ethos is firmly rooted in this initial experience, where making dance was not about learning steps and set shapes. Instead, Velcro celebrated individuality, using possibility and creativity to devise new ways of working and celebrating each dancer’s uniqueness with an equality and mutual respect that created something cohesive and beautiful, binding the group together.
Louise Brown is the founder and artistic lead, she is also a producer and facilitator.
Her interests lie in creating work that connects with the core value of the human experience through participatory arts. Her practice involves working inclusively with a range of artists and communities.
Louise has worked for and with a range of organisations and artists across the UK, including Ludus Dance, GDance, Dance South West (PDSW), Candoco, Department of Health SW and most recently, Diverse City.
Louise has a Post Graduate Diploma in Education and has worked extensively as a teacher, trainer and mentor both to artists and companies.
She is passionate about collaborative approaches and working across disciplines. Louise has a young daughter and a sausage dog and lives in Gloucestershire.
Lucy Ellis-Howell is the founder and creative producer specialising in inclusive practice and theatre for young audiences.
Working as a community dance practitioner and producer Lucy has worked across multiple SW Dance agencies including, GDance, Take Art (Somerset), Wiltshire Dancing and Dance South West. She was a part of the Creative Learning team at The Egg, Theatre Royal Bath from 2010-16 and worked as an associate producer for them until recently.
Alongside The Velcro Collective, Lucy is Company Producer for Wyldwood Arts, a socially engaged arts charity specialising in intergenerational practice.
She is committed to inclusive working practices and opening access to the arts for all. Lucy is also a yoga practitioner and lives near Monmouth with her husband & 2 dogs.
Michelle is Community Engagement Producer & Practitioner. She is currently working on our workshop programme with community groups and visually impaired children and families.
Michelle is based in Gloucester and is the General Manager for Gloucester Culture Trust and Your Next Move. She is also a freelance dance artist and practitioner.
Since 2016, Michelle has worked with GDance & Art Shape, developing her interest and experience in inclusive dance practice.
Holly Thomas is a visually impaired dancer. Her interests include improvisation, somatic movement, and integrated and inclusive approaches to practice, including audio description for dance.
Holly studied drama at university and was introduced to dance through Saburo Teshigawara’s education program (STEP2). She has worked with Katy Dymoke, Touchdown Dance, Lisa May Thomas, Zoe Schoenherr, The Natural Theatre Company and PECo theatre.
As a teacher Holly worked as a lecturer in performing arts, developing and teaching an inclusive performing arts program for visually impaired and disabled students. Holly continues to work as a freelance teacher and facilitator.
Holly is currently working with the Velcro Collective to create inclusive outdoor experiences in nature for visually impaired and sighted children and their families.
Marie-Louise is an experienced professional dance artist, performer & award-winning choreographer with 25 years’ experience. She has worked with Seven Sisters Group, El Paller (Spain) Sole Rebel Tap, Yael Flexer, Rosmary Lee, Andrew Tidmarsh RSC, Lila Dialo, Helen Crocker & Robert Hyllton, Tony Adigun, Mehrdad Seyf in 30 Bird Productions. Peter Anderson in collaboration with Last Legs Dance Theatre.
Her current other collaborative projects are with Mandala Theatre Company, Open Arms Collective, Curious Company and The Marie-Lou Revue and their Bandstand & Bedside Cabaret performances, she is also training in Equine Horse Therapy.
Marie-Louise has many years experience of teaching and leading inclusive dance practice. She is also a dance movement specialist for the elderly and people living with dementia.
Bryn Trained at London Contemporary Dance School, then completed an MA in dance performance, through the Northern School of Contemporary Dance.
Bryn has worked with Julia Thorneycroft dance, Humannah productions, About NOWish, Bitter Suite, Luca Silvistrini’s Protein, Lisa May Thomas and Travelling Light Theatre Company and has choreographed for Tessa Bide, Myrtle Theatre Company and Vic Llewellyn & Kid Carpet.
He recently completed the FIRE intensive year at Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance and is currently working with Vittoria De Ferarri Sapetto in Lithuania.
Photo credit from top to bottom: © Lee Pretious, © Photographer Unknown, © Photographer Unknown