Wildfire Rising

Contact name

Jane McLean


01606 861 770 / Jane.Mclean@cheshiredance.org

Wildfire Rising’ is an associate artist development programme from Cheshire Dance and Movema that aims to remove barriers of inequality by investing in global majority dance artists and their development, representation, artistry and leadership, supporting dance artists from African, South, East and South East Asian diasporas. It also involves staff, organisational and sector learning and development. This work is integral to the commitment of Movema and Cheshire Dance’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion promise to dedicate investment, time and resources for the liberation of artists who have experienced racism.

The 2021 programme recruited 3 North West based dance artists, who took part in paid, bespoke professional development and reflection and received a £1.5k commission to support and develop their own dance work.

In October 2022, Cheshire Dance and Movema secured an ACE Project Grant for Wildfire Rising Year 2 and will as such now be working with 5 North-West based global majority artists to develop their own practice and projects through bespoke development support and a £1k development budget each. This is holistic in nature supporting the artist as a whole person, acknowledging the intersections and trauma in which they live, and have lived and worked.

Alongside this work with the Associate Artists, together we will be running a broader artist development programme, which includes:

  • Artist Development days
  • 1:1 Artist Surgeries
  • Inquiring Bodies events

These Inquiring Bodies events will celebrate, create a platform for and raise the profile of global majority artists in the region. They will share the excellent practice of global majority dance artists, creating a broader network and visibility amongst dance artists and organisations.

Inquiring Bodies events are made for dance artists, by dance artists. They create a mutually supportive environment for exploration and open dialogue.

Each event will be led by two global majority Guest Artists (including the Wildfire Rising Associate Artists) who will present and platform their work to other dance artists and the host venue – offering practical opportunities to explore, develop and share practice.

For the artist development days and Inquiring Bodies events, paid bursary places will be available for global majority artists to attend and participate. More details will be shared soon.



Through ‘Wildfire Rising’ Cheshire Dance and Movema and are committed to:

  • Investing in and supporting dance artists from African, South, East and South East Asian diasporas to make way for the rising of their artistry, representation and development.
  • Increasing representation of artists from African, South, East and South East Asian diasporas in both of our organisations at all levels.
  • Learning about what the barriers are to African, South, East and South East Asian diaspora artists engaging with our organisations (as participants and artists) and subsequently using the learning to develop the diversity of our organisations
  • Reducing inequalities in dance
  • Learning about the needs of artists from African, South, East and South East Asian diasporas and using our voices and platforms to feed this understanding into wider strategic conversations with ACE and Dance Consortia North West to ensure development of relevant support systems for artists
  • Generating and developing trust and shifting perceptions of our organisations as places where people of diverse cultural and racial backgrounds are welcome, valued and feel ‘at home’


Past Recipients of the Wildfire Rising Associate Artist Programme


Xiaowei Lu

Xiaowei Lu is an artist with Chinese dance background and has studied both classical and ethnic forms. She graduated in 2021 with a Masters in Creative Dance Education – with a focus on Chinese dance education in the UK at University level, this was at Salford University.

With 10 years experience of Chinese dance education & choreography and a strong background in dance and cultural collaboration projects, Xiaowei is passionate about developing ways of connecting and working with local communities. A proud Chinese woman, proudly living in England, Xiaowei  has a particular interest in Chinese classical and western contemporary dance. Her identity, heritage and culture inform the decisions she makes and the way she lives her life.

Xiaowei has produced international work that has toured the UK. She is the Creative Director of Arts of China and is an Associate Artist on the Cheshire Dance and Movema Wildfire Associate Artist Development Programme (2021).

Xiaowei set up Arts of China dance company in 2011, which aims to teach Chinese dance classes, produce Chinese dance events and performances. The company is based in Manchester and works with a pool of international freelancers who lead in different forms of dance.

Xiaowei intends to study a PhD Intercultural Dance at Salford University, beginning in 2022.

During the Wildfire Rising programme Xiaowei:

  1. Improved her professional skills and continues to increase her profile as a Chinese dance artist in the UK
  2. Is developing a Contemporary Chinese dance performance that will share Chinese dance and culture to communities in Britain. The performance will be co-created with the community and chines dance professionals.
  3. Is applying for ACE Project Grants funding

Xiaowei has been developing her dance teaching philosophy acknowledging and combining the strengths of both Chinese and contemporary dance forms to provide an inclusive class where dancers can get the most out of the class.

Though mentoring and coaching in the WFR programme Xiaowei gained confidence, developed connections in the sector and found a clear pathway for her research questions which she will continue through her PHD.



Sabrina Steele

Sabrina Is a Liverpudlian from the African diaspora who is passionate about working with youth and community groups with the focus of removing barriers to access.

Sabrina is a freelance  dance artist wanting to deepen and develop work in the community by using world dance styles and commercial street dance. She has been teaching and dancing for over 30 years with and for the Liverpool community.

For the past 2 years she have been focusing on developing and deepening understanding of world dance styles and how it can be a tool for engaging with young dancers and communities.

During the Wildfire rising Programme Sabrina has been:

  1. Developing and running dance classes for disadvantaged young people in Liverpool
  2. Performing in World dance, commercial street and afro fusion styles
  3. Applying to ACE project grants.
  4. Working with Mentor Hakeem Onibudo at IMPACT dance in London and Liverpool.

Sabrina’s biggest achievement was to express her views and experiences on the “Spread Your Wings” artist’s panel speaking to representatives of the dance sector.


Addae Gaskins 

Addae is from Trinidad and Tobago but is now based in Liverpool. Addae is a multidisciplinary artist, trained in caribbean dance styles, carnival costume design and creative writing. Addae looks to develop his artistic practice to combine dance, choreography and words as a method of storytelling and to create a resource for dance from the African Diaspora.




Review and recommendations on the Wildfire Rising Associate Artist Programme by Inc Arts UK

The Wildfire Rising programme facilitated by Cheshire Dance and Movema provides an inclusive experience to dance professionals who want to develop their professional projects in the UK dance sector. This programme is also a valuable experience for the sector to better understand how they can support the development of artists and professionals that are minoritised and marginalised in the UK society.

Compared to other programmes, the Wildfire Rising programme is very inclusive and raises the bar of what can be achieved. This report recognises the high value of this programme for the sector and the North West Dance community. To view the report by Inc Arts on the Wildfire Rising programme, click here


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To view a complete Evaluation Summary Report for Wildfire Rising Year 1 from Cheshire Dance and Movema, click here.


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Artists working with Wildfire Rising

Partners involved with Wildfire Rising

Events with Wildfire Rising