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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Natalie Gordon’s email@example.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