Vertical and Aerial Dance Harness Creative Labs 2021

Monday 23 – Friday 27 August 2021

Join us for three 5-day in-person creative labs for vertical and aerial dancers who work in harness and those wishing to try it out, on the gorgeous convex walls of the Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts in Brighton.

We have Creative Labs tailored to 3 levels of experience and skill:

  • Professional
  • Intermediate
  • Explorer.

Each level will be led by Lindsey Butcher, Lee Clayden and Kate Lawrence to explore vertical and aerial dance harness vocabulary and technique, as well as guided improvisations to explore the vertical spaces, solo and group work. The Professional strand includes mentoring from each of the tutors on a current act/project, something we’ve not offered since Vertical Dance Forum projects in 2019.

All participants will be required to take a lateral flow test the night before arriving and to present a negative result in order to participate. During the week, daily temperature checks and questionnaires will monitor for symptoms. The courses will adhere to covid-safe working guidelines with small class sizes of 6-8 people spread across 3 separate spaces.

Course Content

Warm-up: aerial yoga, movement warm up or vertical dance conditioning

Technique sessions: will look at vertical dance vocabulary with an emphasis placed on correct alignment, technique and spatial awareness, building throughout the week towards more dynamic vocabulary.

Creative sessions: will work through guided improvisations and exploring the available potential between floor, air and landscape working in solos, duets and groups.

Each level will have the opportunity to work in 3 different spaces on site.

Time Commitment

5 days: 23-27 August 2021

Daily schedule:

9am – Registration, C19 monitoring, temperature checks
9.30am – Warm ups x 3 levels
10.45-1pm – Technique sessions x 3 levels
1-2pm –  Lunch
2 -4.15pm – Creative Labs x 3 levels
4.30-5.30pm – Warm down x 3 levels, de-rig for overnight on roof and sanitise equipment.


Early Bird Discount: £375 if booked on/before 1st August 2021

Full Rate: £400

Subsidised Rate: £275. There are 2 subsidised places available for those who identify as underrepresented in the aerial sector, including but not limited to, disabled artists, artists from financially disadvantaged backgrounds, artists who experience racism, artists with care responsibilities, and artists who are LGBTQIA+.


To book, email us with a short expression of why you would like to take part in the intensive (roughly 500 characters) and which level you wish to take part in.

To apply for a subsidised place, please email us with a description of yourself in relation to the criteria and a short expression of why you would like to take part in the intensive (roughly 500 characters) and which level you wish to take part in.

>> Email Us To Book Your Place <<<


Level definitions & pre-requisites


A unique opportunity to be mentored by all 3 tutors on a proposal for a project you’d like to work on  – single point only.

You are a professional vertical dancer with significant track record in working with and/or performing vertical dance over a number of years.

You are an artist who has creative practical experience of both the movement aspects, including an understanding of and ability to regulate pendulum and the technical – rigging and safety systems – of the discipline.

You may also have had experience of teaching vertical dance.


You must have previously attended a vertical dance course or have significant single point harness experience on the wall (two years of regular practice) on the wall on different lengths of rope.

You are confident with using ascending and descending devices and knowledgeable about personal safety systems.

You should be familiar with the pre-requisite list of spatial and physical propositions;

  • Planks on different planes
  • Finding your balance point on feet or hands under the rigging point
  • Jumping away and returning to the wall with control
  • Comfortable with basic rotations and cartwheels on the wall.

None of these have to be perfect!


You have little or no previous experience of vertical dance or dancing in a harness. 

You may have started to attend vertical dance classes but are still at an early stage in your training.

Even though you may be a skilled or professional artist in dance, gymnastics or other aerial skills, it is important that you join the explorer class to gain an understanding of the fundamentals and safe use of equipment before you can move to an improver class.


Each person will be provided with and allocated their own harness and hardware to use for the 5 days.

If you have a preferred climbing harness and/or any other kit (gri gris, rigs, carabiners etc), please bring them with you.

Please wear multiple snug layers around your hips & waist for your comfort. Long sleeved shirts are also handy for some moves.

Make sure you bring plenty of sanitiser and sunblock!


Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts (or ACCA) is set within the University of Sussex grounds, statistically the sunniest campus (allegedly), on the edge of the South Downs National Park with the bright lights of Brighton just 10 mins away.

Getting there:

By train

Trains from Brighton or Lewes take less than 10 mins to get to the station nearest ACCA – Falmer – and they run aprox every 15 mins. Walk from Falmer station to ACCA is less than 5 mins, follow signs to University of Sussex.

From Brighton: exit train station, descend steps, walk through the underpass and follow the footpath until you reach a zebra crossing. You’ll be able to see ACCA set back across the lawn on your left, its the building with round red brick towers.

From Lewes: cross the footbridge over the track to the main exit, follow directions as above.

By bus

The number 25 and 25X bus bring you from central Brighton all the way to the University campus. Alight at the ACCA and Sports Centre stop and you will see the ACCA building – with round red brick towers – through a stretch of tall trees on the lawn.


>> Email Us To Book Your Place <<<


Course Tutors

Lindsey Butcher, Artistic Director of Gravity & Levity

Since graduating from London School of Contemporary Dance, Lindsey has worked with numerous dance, opera, physical and street theatre companies both in the UK and internationally as dancer, aerialist, teacher, choreographer and advisor. These include; Extemporary Dance Theatre, Random Dance Company, Walker Dance/Park Music, Darshan Singh Bhuller, Charlie Morrissey and Small Wonder, Vincent Dance Theatre, Siobhan Davies Dance Company, Royal Danish Ballet, English National Ballet, Glyndebourne Opera, and Slovenian National Opera.

In 1989, Lindsey joined Ra – Ra Zoo Circus Theatre. Her circus credits to date in various roles as peformer, advisor & choreographer include: No Ordinary Angels, Green Candle, Amici Dance Theatre Co, Gandini Juggling Project, The Dream Engine, Desperate Men, Caravan Stage, Scarabeus, Momentary Fusion, Tango and Crash, Same Sky, ‘True’ with Fierce, ‘Wallpaper’ with Bedlam and Physical Recall, Fidget Feet Aerial Dance, Drapes Aeriens, Stumble Circus, Yes/No’s ‘Lost and Found Orchestra’, Graeae’s ‘Prometheus Awakes’, Metta Theatre, Upswing, and RoguePlay Theatre.

Kate Lawrence

Kate trained in dance at Thamesdown Dance Studio (now Swindon Dance) and Laban (now Trinitry Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance) (1984 – 1989) and is currently a part-time lecturer in performance at Bangor University.  Previously she was dance lecturer at University of Surrey where she pioneered the first vertical dance undergraduate module (2003 – 2010), fusing her dance background with her 15-year passion for rock climbing.  Her approach to harness work is influenced by Venetian choreographer Wanda Moretti and Lindsey Butcher.

She has taught in a range of settings, including Les Recontres de Danse Aerienne in France and on the exterior of the Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver.  Kate writes about performance and published the first scholarly article on vertical dance: Hanging from Knowledge: ‘fieldwork on the National Library of Wales’. She specialises in choreography on buildings and her choreography includes Descent of the Angel (2009, Guildford Cathedral), Fly Butterfly (2010, Belfast City Hall), Raschmunzel (2011, Linz Pflasterspektakl commission) and Life is a Carnival (2011, Ulster Museum).

Kate now lives in North Wales and is Artistic Director of Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence (VDKL). She has made the following works for the company: Ynghwm/Roped Together (2011), Pobl Dre (2012), Gwymon (2013), Porth (2015) and Lady Travellers (2015). VDKL runs regular training and workshops in vertical dance in North Wales.

Lee Clayden

Lee started dancing at the age of 21 and graduated from London School of Contemporary Dance with a 1st degree. He has guessed with English National Opera, The Charnock Company, Companhia Portuguesa de Bailado Contempreano, Random Dance Company, Kerry Nicholls, Vincent Dance Theatre, Aletta Collins, Mad Dogs Dance Theatre, and Company Chameleon and performed as a dancer and aerialist in the West End show Lord of the Rings.

Lee is often seen dancing on the side of buildings performing vertical dance with Gravity and Levity and also running the set of Walk the Plank’s S.W.A.L.K as the messenger, amongst live pyrotechnics.

His film and TV credits include the ‘The Wizard of Earthsea’. ‘Finding Neverland’, ‘Frankenstein’ directed by Michael Howells and Mark Baldwin, ‘Jaguar Cars’,’ The Rite of Spring’, ‘MTV’ and ’Top of the Pops’.

He danced with Walker Dance/Park Music 2000-2007. Performing ‘the 3 of us’, ‘The Self’,’ Silence of the Soul’, ‘Essence’ and ‘5-2-10’. Lee has been nominated twice for Outstanding Male by the Critics Choice Circle 2005 and 2007 and for the Time Out Live Awards 2008.

Lee’s first encounter with Fidget Feet Aerial Dance was on the production RAW, in 2008. He is now an associated artist with Fidget Feet and one of the company’s main performers, teachers and riggers. He has worked on The Snow Queen, Catch me, Hang on, Firebirds, A Fairies’ Tail, The Elves and the Shoemaker and The Second Coming.

Lee teaches, choreographs and devises on the floor and in the air regularly for various companies and dance establishments across the United Kingdom and Internationally.

He is also a certified GYROTONIC® and Vayu Aerial Yoga instructor.


>> Email Us To Book Your Place <<<