Community projects

Bodysurf Scotland

Bodysurf Scotland is a contemporary dance social enterprise based in Findhorn, Moray.

Its success has helped establish a vibrant contemporary dance scene across Moray. The group is now also engaging with new national and international audiences. .

In 2014, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) piloted Collaborative Creative Communities (CCC) as a model to support community-based cultural development. This has enabled a vast range of community-led cultural activities to take place across the Highlands and Islands.

HIE invited Bodysurf Scotland to participate in the CCC programme. Two years later, the group has developed a number of successful cultural development activities. These range from community dance to international festivals, as well as new commercial dance products and services. Together these bring new opportunities and wider economic benefits to the region.

Community engagement

One of Bodysurf Scotland’s key successes has been its Community Dance Development Programme, #Everybody #Dance #Now.

The Dance Development Officer works across Moray providing regular dance and movement for all ages and abilities. This has engaged more than 1,000 participants in its first year.

The programme gave rise to the Bodysurf Youth Dance; weekly contemporary dance classes for young people aged 11-19.

The positive effect of cultural activity on the health and wellbeing of communities is evident in the Bodysurf Scotland Programme. Many participants report increased confidence, creative expression and communication skills, in addition to physical health and fitness.  This chimes with HIE’s focus on supporting communities to develop and grow.

  • "Bodysurf Scotland was only able to pilot the Community Dance Programme with the support of HIE’s CCC programme. The support enabled staff to source funding for the Dance Development Officer, in addition to forging links with new delivery partners, such as schools and community groups. The initiative has, in turn, heightened the profile of the organisation within the local area, and this has been reflected in increased attendance by local people at events."

    Diane Smith, Business Development Manager

Rise festivals

Bodysurf Scotland’s Rise Festival has grown significantly since its inauguration in 2014. Each year it has increased in profile and success, from financial gain to audience and artistic development.
The event has been acknowledged as one of the few festivals in the UK to present this type of contemporary dance-theatre to rural audiences, being placed firmly on the national dance calendar.

The event has increased Bodysurf Scotland’s audiences - 45% of which came from outwith Moray in 2016. It provides local employment and volunteering opportunities. And it contributes to local economic growth and increasing the profile of Findhorn as a tourist destination amongst visiting audiences and artists. 

The 2016 event created five temporary jobs, all filled by people from Moray. There were also two work exchange posts from the Central Belt and eight volunteers, of whom four were young people. 
With the support of the CCC programme, Bodysurf Scotland’s staff were given the time and space to develop a robust Business Plan for this event which fed into a strong successful Creative Scotland application.

Commercial classes

Teachers and participants from across the world have been drawn by Bodysurf Scotland’s long established Commercial Programme. This provides recreational dancers with the opportunity to participate in workshops in such modalities as yoga, 5Rhythms®, Open Floor Movement Practice® and Contact Improvisation.

Through CCC, Bodysurf Scotland was able to further develop its Commercial Programme by supporting a new international collaboration with US-based organisation Open Floor® to bring international training events to Findhorn.  These events successfully attracted 40 new international dance practitioners. Additionally, this collaboration has enabled Bodysurf to offer a regular yearly national programme of high commercial and professional training workshops to artists across Scotland and internationally.

Unexpected outcomes

  • "Due to the rising reputation of the organisation to produce high quality arts and cultural events, we have seen an increase in requests for us to manage or partner in other projects.

    "We have been the Scottish lead partner in a European Commission Creative Europe application, Wilderness; commissioned to manage a Movers and Makers screendance event in Glasgow and Edinburgh; partners in a Canadian Screen Art application and supported a local arts organisation with their funding application."

    Karl Jay-Lewin, Artistic Director

  • "Moray has a strong cultural base and it has been inspiring to watch Bodysurf Scotland grow in confidence and capacity during the CCC programme. The opportunities created as a result of its enhanced profile will ultimately ensure the longer term sustainability of the organisation. Around 65 of those attending RISE stayed locally, benefitting restaurants, accommodation providers and taxi companies, demonstrating the added value that cultural events can bring to an area."

    Fiona Robb, Head of Strengthening Communities, HIE Moray Area Team

A downloadable version of this case study is available under the Related Documents section on this page. Photographs courtesy of Bodysurf Scotland.

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