Partially sighted dance artist secures ACES award

Dance artist Helen Hall.
Dance artist Helen Hall.

A partially sighted dance artist from Newtownabbey has been awarded an Arts Council of Northern Ireland ACES award 2015/16.

Helen Hall, who is also a talented choreographer, is one of 21 artists to receive the Artists Career Enhancement Scheme award - a funding grant bestowed upon Northern Ireland’s most talented emerging artists to allow them to develop their professional artistic careers.

Awards under the ACES programme are made annually to professional artists working in music, visual arts, drama, dance, literature and participatory arts and are among the most prestigious awards bestowed by the Arts Council annually. This year’s recipients include four visual artists, three playwrights, five poets, three novelists, three musicians, a dance artist and two community artists.

In addition to receiving a bursary of up to £5,000 each, many of the 21 artists have been partnered with a professional organisation to help each of them deliver a major new creative work.

Helen, a mum of two, will use her ACES award for her project ‘Reflective Moves – Exploring perceptions of movement and light’.

As a registered blind dance artist, Helen’s experience of dance, in all aspects, is quite different from many others. ‘Reflective Moves’ will investigate Helen’s experience of viewing dance performance, in which she experiences two juxtaposing viewpoints: either a blurred general impression or a zoomed-in, narrowly-focused area of detail. This experience, along with research into how a ‘sighted’ dance audience views a performance, will be the starting point for choreographic investigation.

Drawing on her strengths as a visual artist, she also wants to investigate how the use of light can be integrated into the choreographic process - what is revealed or hidden from an audience. This award will allow Helen the opportunity to work alongside a lighting designer to begin these explorations as well as provide her with the opportunity to be mentored along the journey. Through the duration of the project Maiden Voyage will act as Helen’s supporting organisation, offering guidance, training and mentoring opportunities.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council NI, said: “These 21 artists are already established and highly regarded in each of their fields. The awards are given in recognition of their work to date and to provide them with support to take their careers to that vital next level.”