SPRINGS DANCE COMPANY began as a fellowship group in 1979 within the Arts Centre Group (ACG). From the ACG an informal group called LEAP was formed. This group, as Christian artists, danced simply as a witness of faith. The group were mostly students and as the majority regularly worshipped at St Helen’s church, Bishopsgate, they decided to move there. As the students became professional, so did the group and Springs Dance Company was born, co-founded by Martin H Blogg (a senior lecturer at the Middlesex Polytechnic) and Angela Hardcastle (a choreographer and lecturer in dance). The company encouraged people through performances and workshops to use dance as a way of worshipping God.
Martin Blogg directed the company and enabled it to achieve charitable status with the main aim to propagate the Christian faith through dance. Sir Kirby Laing gave the company a gift of £5000 to pay for the company’s first Toyota Van. This enabled the company to develop its work in diverse situations such as schools, colleges, universities, Youth for Christ, churches and missions in this country and abroad.
In 1982 Candida Hadler took the company full time and became director in 1983. The company moved to St James the Less, Bethnal Green and toured extensively in the UK and Europe as well as tours to Australia and America. In 1986 Ruth Dawson co-directed Springs with Candida which enabled SDC to have two companies travelling to different parts of the world.
Frances Clarke and Miranda Groves took over the co-directorship in 1992, continuing the work in churches and schools, providing structured and detailed guidelines for the educational work of SDC. Frances Clarke was then appointed as Artistic Director, and the company developed completely new repertoire over the next few years, with new works by Angela Hardcastle, Michelle Scott, Michelle Crouch, Fenella Barker, Fru Bird, and Frances Clarke. The educational work developed across all sectors, including the introduction of an adult workshop series and the annual summer school.
Fru Bird became director in 1997 and through the Jerusalem Trust and Sir Kirby Laing the company was able to devise projects based on biblical themes that fulfilled the RE/Dance Curriculum’s for schools and colleges around London who would otherwise be unable to benefit from this resource. The company began to create full evening dance works, the first of which, Journey of the Magi was commissioned by Bromley Christian Centre (which became the new home of SDC).
Cathy Sincock became director in 2000, and initiated the Springs Dance Company Apprenticeship Scheme. During this time, South East Arts provided the resources to enable the company to work with women in prison.
Ruth Hughes, the current director, took over leadership of the company in 2003. She developed work that reached to a wider audience and the company began touring to theatres in 2007 with their double-bill for children Waterbugs and Dragonflies and The Wemmick Story. The company’s constitution was updated in 2007 to enable the company to work in new venues, and the company has now become a company limited by guarantee.
The company continues to perform and teach nationally and internationally, rehearsing at Ichthus Lee Green Community Church.