West Midlands dance practitioners supported by MAC Dance Bursary

Fri 30 March 2018

The latest recipient of the Norma Abbott Dance Bursary, Jaivant Patel, receives his award from MAC Artistic Director & CEO Deborah Kermode.

A dance bursary set up by the family of former MAC employee Norma Abbott, is now in its fourth year, having helped to develop the dance practice of four emerging dance practitioners since its inception in 2015.

Norma Abbott was a Customer Service Assistant at MAC for many years and was a keen dancer and a tireless advocate for participation in dance. The bursary has been set up to support West Midlands based dancers and choreographers with their professional development. Here’s how the first four annual bursaries have been making an impact:

The Bursary’s most recent recipient, Wolverhampton-based dance artist, cultural producer and choreographer Jaivant Patel will use his 2017 bursary to contribute to the costs of a research visit to India. Jaivant will meet with several dance artists and companies who can contribute to the development of his choreographic style.  During the visit Jaivant will explore opportunities to collaborate with India-based choreographers and to create work to be showcased in the UK.

Jaivant’s work is committed to opening possibilities and increasing dialogue around the diversification of how BAME work is conceived, developed, presented and collaboratively promoted.  Jaivant is an artist in residence and artist tutor at MAC and is currently working on programming an event for Diwali in 2018.

Shafa Khan’s interest in dance grew from taking Saturday classes at MAC.  His practice highlights the beauty and skill of art forms originating from South Asia and the Middle East.  Shafa has used his 2016 bursary to fund studio and rehearsal costs related to the development of a new solo piece of work, as well as funding travel to visit the Dance Library archives at Sadlers Wells, London to further develop his production knowledge. 

2015 Bursary recipient Faye O’Connor’s practice focuses on dance in residential homes, engaging residents to experience the joy of dancing.  Faye used her bursary to gain training and accreditation in later life exercise, enabling her to work for the NHS and be referred to by GPs and physiotherapists, helping to make a difference to many people’s lives through dance.  Faye previously worked at MAC and left to develop her practice as a community dance artist.

Fellow 2015 Bursary recipient dance teacher Katie-Lea Stevenson used her bursary to train with some of the dance companies that she made links with whilst working on a dance project in South Africa, sharing the learning with others in the UK and internationally.  Katie-Lea describes the impact that the award has had: “The Norma Abbott Dance Bursary helped me so much. I was able to buy equipment for a dance project I was working on in South Africa, where I set up a dance programme giving free dance training to children in Townships. I was also able to train in contemporary whilst in Africa and Europe as the money helped me pay my fees and travel. From connecting and meeting people I am now in Australia where I have been part of two performance groups and got the chance to live here, perform and train in dance. I have also created an organisation called breathe with help of people I have met on my adventure. Breathe is an anti-bullying campaign to help stop the number of suicides across the globe using arts. Thanks to the bursary I was able to meet new people and create more opportunities for myself and others around me”.

The bursary was set up by Norma’s husband, Peter Abbott: ‘Norma’s love of dance gave our family the impetus to create the bursary. We hope the bursary winners will go on to pursue their dance careers as a result of the award. It’s great that the memory of Norma will live on in such a creative way and we look forward to seeing how their careers progress in the future.’

The call-out for the 2018 Norma Abbott Dance Bursary will be announced in autumn 2018.  Please contact Nicola Saunders at for further information.