Three members of the Wales Wide Training Programme share their stories about what the WWTP mean to them. Hear from Heidi Wilson, a Senior Lecturer of Dance in Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences; Emma Mallam, Founder and Director of Motion Control Dance in Barry; and Emily Pritchard, a Freelance Dance Practitioner based at Dance Blast, Monmouthshire.

Reflecting on the WWTP, Heidi commented on the opportunities for discussion and collaboration with other partners:

"Cardiff Metropolitan University joined WWTP in 2017 as part of our Civic Engagement programme. It has become a very important partnership to us for a number of reasons. The quality of training and CPD opportunities are excellent and are always designed in response to the expressed need of the dance sector. WWTP also provides an invaluable structure through which the sector can network. A particular focus is provided through the Best Practice Forum which highlights areas of good practice, keep us up to date with new developments and provides a platform for discussion of key topical issues. 

The Dance Pathway at Cardiff Met focuses on applied learning in community and education contexts. As such, partnerships built with community arts and dance organisations via WWTP are important in helping us to realise our student experience. A recent Mutual Exchange Programme award with Artis Community facilitated invaluable discussion and opened up possibilities of future collaborative models between HEIs and arts organisations. Perhaps most important of all is the support and camaraderie amongst WWTP partners with a real sense that together we can achieve more."

Emma also valued the sense of unity and community that the WWTP creates for dance practitioners and organisations in Wales:

"I have been a community dance practitioner in Wales for the past 20 years and the Wales Wide Training Programme has helped me immensely over this time. It has allowed me to network with other like-minded passionate dance teachers from across Wales, sharing tips for good practice and being part of a wider community. The network from these training sessions has provided me with a sense of unity with other dance tutors from across Wales and the support from everyone has been amazing. It has allowed me to develop new avenues in my teaching to work with older people and gain a deeper knowledge for specialisms such as Dance for Parkinson's that I am hoping to offer in the future.   

The WWTP has been so beneficial for the development of both myself, my freelance community dance tutors and also for the growth of my community dance charity in the Vale of Glamorgan. It has allowed us to receive professional training in Wales instead of travelling further afield to gain more knowledge of working with exceptional practitioners in a variety of dance disciplines.    

Thank you WWTP for helping me along my journey to Enriching Lives Through Movement and creating my lifelong dream of making a difference to lives with dance."

Lastly, we hear from Emily, who views the WWTP as invaluable to her career as a freelance dance practitioner:

"My name is Emily Pritchard and I have been a community dance practitioner for the past 9 years. I work as a freelancer for Dance Blast, the community dance organisation for Monmouthshire, delivering a range of dance sessions for a wide variety of ages and abilities, including additional needs.  

I have been fortunate enough to access the Wales Wide Training Programme for many years now, and it is a truly invaluable programme 

WWTP provides high quality regular training opportunities in a range of areas of community dance, areas chosen by the practitioners it serves. The days are consistently well structured, providing an effective balance of different perspectives and specialisms within an area, meaning practitioners get the most out of the days. This is particularly important because taking time out of a teaching schedule to attend training is usually difficult, both logistically - in terms of covering sessions - and financially with loss of income etc.  

WWTP CPD days are scheduled during school holidays, making it easier for teachers to attend, offer free places for freelancers, and also offer a bursary scheme to follow-up with someone who particularly interested you at a CPD day, allowing that relationship to continue and develop. I successfully applied for a bursary in January 2018 with Paul Bayes Kitcher of Fallen Angels Dance Theatre, which was a wonderful experience, and was also then invited to perform with one of their groups a few months later. 

As well as the training, the days also provide a chance to see other practitioners, catch up and share best practice. The days are held all over Wales, so you get to see a wide range of what different organisations are doing, as well as dancing with people you don't get to see very often and just enjoying chatting together! Some organisations might be doing similar work to you, in which case you can discuss that in more detail, or you find someone doing something you'd never considered, and that's really exciting too.  

Lastly, the organisation of the days are brilliant. Tracey Brown will email/text to make sure you know what's going on and is always on hand if you need her. She is often behind the scenes, but her contribution is clearly shown in the success of the programme. I am so glad WWTP has been running during the first part of my career, it has really supported and shaped me into a better community practitioner. I hope it continues for many years."

Find out more about the WWTP and how you can get involved!