31 of 50

2019 is our 50th anniversary and we are championing some of the people who help make Scottish Ballet a great place to work. Each week we will introduce you to a different career at Scottish Ballet and the person behind it.

Catherine Cassidy’s journey started with Scottish Ballet in 2010 following a career as a contemporary dancer, choreographer and director. She now works closely with our CEO and Artistic Director Christopher Hampson to grow Scottish Ballet's Engagement programmes and align them with our company values. 

We caught up with Catherine to find out more about her journey and why she loves being involved in pioneering projects with Dance Health.  

Tell us about your journey with the company

I joined Scottish Ballet in May 2010. Originally, I trained as a contemporary dancer; choreography was my passion. Following graduation, I started my own dance company which was funded by the Arts Council of England and the Scottish Arts Council. During that period, I developed many of the skills I use today. A large part of my role requires me to support the Engagement management team as they develop and deliver major projects such as Scottish Ballet’s Youth Exchange programme, Safe to be Me and our Scottish Ballet Health programme. I enjoy working with our partnering organisations both nationally and internationally and communicating Scottish Ballet’s vision and values at conferences and events.

Scottish Ballet recently announced a new pioneering programme for people living with Multiple Sclerosis, can you tell us more about how this is developing?

We are excited to be broadening our Dance Health programme, inviting people to benefit from the power of dance, through specialist classes delivered by our Engagement Team and collaborating with a range of arts and medical specialists from The University of Florida Center for Arts and Medicine and Georgetown University Medical Center, MS Society Scotland and MS Revive.

As with all our Dance Health activity, classes will be delivered by specialist dance artists and musicians in the Scottish Ballet studios at Tramway.

Can you tell us more about the 'Safe to be Me' initiative?

The initiative uses dance to tackle topics such as racism, homophobia, bigotry, ableism and transphobia. Delivered in line with the key Scottish Government targets to address these areas, the project engages with Primary 6 pupils to explore themes that include identity, tolerance, acceptance, respect, ethnic and family diversity and LGBTQ communities.
 
Pupils are initially introduced to these themes by our qualified team in the weeks leading up to watching a performance, which is choreographed by Scottish Ballet’s Engagement Creative Director. Working with Scotland’s most experienced dance and music practitioners, the pupils then take part in a full-day workshop where they have the opportunity to create their own ‘Safe to Be Me’ performance; supporting them to be comfortable with who they are.

What is it like being able to take education activities on tour with the main company?

A highlight from the last 12 months has to be the Highlands and Islands tour of Matthew Bourne’s Highland Fling. The rural tour has a special place in my heart as I love the feeling of everyone rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in to all sorts of jobs together. We delivered workshops to primary schools and care homes  in some of the most remote areas of Scotland. It’s wonderful to see community participants learning the same movements and gestures the dancers will perform that night on stage, and having the opportunity to create their own dance using the choreographers original tasks.

What has been your favourite thing about working at Scottish Ballet?

One of the most interesting parts of my job has been my collaboration with Christopher Hampson. We have worked together to develop a shared vision and strategy for Scottish Ballet’s Engagement activity, creating a stronger link between the company repertoire and the dancers. Together we developed a new team structure designed to encourage the growth of this vision and company values through the creation of new posts such as the Engagement Creative Director and Dance Health Manager. In this way my role is unique, I am not aware of any other ballet company where the Director of Engagement works so creatively with the CEO/Artistic Director.

I also love having the chance to work with so many talented people every day across the organisation. I love spending time in the studio, getting to know the repertoire and watching the dancers, artistic and technical staff at work. I feel at home in a dance studio and I always learn so much from my time there.

What's your 'get up and go' song? 

It has to be Pulp - Disco 2000.