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Retina Jongeren - Flemish Ambassadors for Dance


RETINA JONGEREN have gained the title of AMBASSADOR OF FLEMISH AMATEUR CONTEMPORARY DANCE during DANCE.IMPACT, a festival organized by Danspunt and Terpsichore vzw.

Retina Jongeren, Retina Dance Company’s Belgium based youth dance company, took part in Dance.Impact, a festival for amateur dance in Flanders on Sunday 30th March. 7 groups were selected to perform their work in the Flemish town of Bornem. Retina Jongeren performed Zero 09, a new piece by Retina’s choreographer Filip Van Huffel.

After a great evening of varied contemporary dance, the jury gave the title of AMBASSADOR OF FLEMISH AMATEUR CONTEMPORARY DANCE to RETINA JONGEREN! The jury rewarded the company for it’s coherent whole, the music, the flow and the energy that the company managed to convey to the audience.

The new ambassador company wins €750 to spend on dance related expenses and the group will also be invited by Danspunt to participate in domestic and foreign performances and festivals where they will represent Flanders.

Dance.Impact is an initiative of Danspunt in collaboration with Terpsichore vzw.

Zero 09
Choreography: Filip Van Huffel
Retina Jongeren dancers: Manou Hermans, Cheyenne Illegems, Laura Janssens, Margot Janssens, Johanna Tengan, Louis Thuriot, Pauline Thuriot, Julie Van Landeghem, Mooni Van Tichel, Noa Van Tichel, Dries Verstreepen. 
Rehearsal Director: Sabin Ceulemans
Photo: Joke Van den Heuvel

Filip Van Huffel’s response to Retina UK news

Dear Retina Dance Company supporters,

It is true, I have made the decision to step away from Retina Dance UK from 31 March 2014. I want to make it clear that I have not resigned from RETINA DANCE COMPANY. As a matter of fact, there are some exciting projects and choreographic ventures in the pipeline in Belgium and the UK and I will continue to develop as a choreographer and artistic director.

I want to thank so many people for the incredible support that Retina audiences and public have shown me in the last 48 hours since the announcement made by Retina’s Board of Directors on Friday that states that I am leaving Retina Dance UK.

What happened?
The Board of Directors decided on a new direction for the company, and it is a direction that I do not support, and therefore there is no longer a role for myself or the company dancers and artistic team. I made this decision because it is the only way that I can keep my personal and artistic health and integrity. I have always believed that dance companies must be viable businesses, but the art form must be the priority.

After 19 years of creating professional dance productions, the plan for Retina UK is to work with local dancers with a focus on education work. As many of you know, the education activity of Retina is excellent, and the reason for this, is that I have developed it over a whole career and have been lucky to work with fantastic and very committed company dancers who have been trained in the Retina style.  But however much I personally believe in and enjoy Retina’s education programme, the touring professional dance productions are the cornerstone of the company. I have created 20 company productions and 100s of works for youth companies, community groups, dance students and other dance companies around the world. I am proud of this legacy and know that these were valuable experiences.

What’s the history?
Retina Dance Company has always had two bases, one in Nottingham UK and one in Antwerp, Belgium. Arts Council England has supported Retina’s work since the company started in 1995, when I worked in partnership with Sacha Lee, initially with project funding, and subsequently as a Regularly Funded Organisation and finally as a National Portfolio Organisation. Retina UK will use the final year of the NPO funding to develop their own direction. However I am very grateful to ACE for the long-term support that it has given Retina that has provided the numerous opportunities that we have been able to enjoy. In 1993 key organisations invited Retina to move their base from London to Nottingham, and this relationship thrived for many years, whilst the East Midlands region benefited from an international dance company in residence. I am grateful to the support that these key people offered in the last 10 years.

Who is important?
I would like to acknowledge and thank the immense and brilliant work of the current Retina company dancers, Matthew Slater, Steven Martin, Erin Harty, Pauline De Laet and David Michel, as well as Retina teacher Ian Dolan, lighting designer/technician Andy Hammond and all previous dancers and collaborators that are too many to mention by name. Their support, immense skill and friendship is already missed, and they will remain a part of my family. My work was only possible because of their brilliant skills as dancers and teachers. I wish them well in their personal futures, and am immensely sad that our work pathways were forced to end.

The future
This decision will not stop me from creating work for myself, for Retina Belgium and other dance companies. I will continue to work from Antwerp, and my first plan is to create a solo production for myself to perform with composer/musician Joris Vanvinckenroye.

I hope that you will continue to support my work and Retina Dance Company Belgium, and will stay in touch directly through the website, facebook and email, but this will not be through Nottingham. I will continue with Natalie Gordon as Producer. Please use mine filip@retinadance.com or Natalie Gordon’s natalie@retinadance.com email address if you wish to contact Retina Dance Company Belgium.

I wish Retina UK success in their new ventures, but sincerely hope that they rename the company accordingly, as the new Retina UK will have no relationship to my previous and forthcoming work.

Thanks again for the heart-warming emails and messages I have received, they make me realise that the last 19 years have been worth it, and I have so many happy memories.

Filip Van Huffel

New direction for Retina Dance Company UK

Retina Dance Company UK is looking forward to a significant year as it embarks on a major refocus of its Nottingham based operation.

With plans that include undertaking more education activities and work that addresses the health agenda the company is also exploring opportunities to work more with local communities under the artistic direction of a new choreographer and a new corps of local dancers.

So after 15 years, Retina Dance Company UK will say goodbye to its Belgian based Artistic Director, Filip Van Huffel. Acknowledging the significant contribution that Filip has made to the Nottingham company and its lasting legacy, everyone at Retina Dance UK thanks him and wishes him well for the future. Filip will continue to choreograph in his own inimitable style from his base in Antwerp.

The Chair of Retina Dance Company’s Board, Vanessa Rawlings-Jackson commented: “This is an exciting time for the company and I can speak on behalf of the Board and the Management Team in saying that we are delighted Arts Council England has agreed to continue supporting the company whilst it re-positions itself into what I know could become a major player in the contemporary dance world in the future.”

Capitalising on the considerable success Retina enjoyed during the national UK tour of Layers of Skin in 2011, the company aims to increase opportunities for community based dancers to work with its professional dancers, which was at the heart of this piece and one of the reasons why it was so successful.

For further information please contact Kevan Jackson, Manager, Retina Dance Company UK via email.

Retina present WIRE-FRAME; an exhibition on choreography

Retina is delighted to be performing a bespoke piece of work at next year's North of England Education Conference (NEEC). WIRE-FRAME is in partnership with Nottingham City Council. 


Set in a futuristic over-populated world where physical space is running out, WIRE-FRAME is a fast-paced work that examines how space affects physical behaviour. The theme of the work produces a tightly framed complex composition in which dancers react to and interact with each other, judge, decide and resolve complex physical equations in order to move on in their dynamic struggle for space.

Choreography by Filip Van Huffel. Dancers: Erin Harty, Pauline De Laet, Steven Martin and Matthew Slater. 

WIRE-FRAME is a unique project conceived to give dance students an insight into the art of choreography as revealed in Van Huffel’s own approach. Running at a total of 60 minutes, it consists of a 20 minute performance by Retina’s dancers, followed by a 20 minute question and answer session led by Filip; then the audience themselves devise and structure a new piece of dance for the professional team under Filip’s direction.

The aim of the work is to provide an introduction both to the art of choreography and to Filip Van Hufel’s own practice, providing the viewer with insight into choreographic structures, helpful devices to create dynamic pieces of their own and analytical tools to watch and understand contemporary dance. The exhibition is aimed at people with and without existing understanding of choreography, so is suitable for dance students with different experiences of the artform, as well as non-dancers.

Revealing and informative, John Ashford (former Director of The Place Theatre and Artist Development) has praised Van Huffel’s choreographic exhibitions for providing a practical, no-nonsense guide to choreographic process and practice in a discreet, transparent package.

WIRE-FRAME will be presented at the NEEC on Wednesday 15 January and will then be available for bookings. If you are interested in finding out more please email Sarah Trist Dance Agency or call 07757 654790.

The NEEC is the UK’s biggest annual education conference. It's taking place at Nottingham Conference Centre between Wednesday 15 and Friday 17 January. If you work in education and want to find out more check the conference website for delegate information. 

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