History

Dancers: Donald Edwards & Kathy Williams Dancers: Donald Edwards & Kathy Williams Image credit: Linda Molyneux

Founded in 1993 RJC Dance is a popular and successful Black British led contemporary dance organisation based in Leeds. Original members Edward Lynch, Donald Edwards and David (Leo) Hamilton were also founders of Phoenix Dance Company. They were joined by Villmore James and Merville Jones to create the piece 'Crazy Spirit' for RJC Dance Productions.

Phoenix was unique for several reasons.

'Firstly the company was all male; secondly, it was a Black company; thirdly, it emerged from dance in education rather than by the traditional route of dance schools in higher education and finally the choreography was influenced by the music and social dance styles of the time. The movement which set Phoenix apart and inspired so many audiences came from these five individuals who were encouraged to develop their own distinctive styles.  This unique combination emerged again as RJC continued to experiment with the fusion of social dance styles and contemporary techniques. RJC's commitment to developing and promoting a Black British choreographic language can be seen in its title: R which stands for Reggae, J for Jazz and C for the Contemporary dance influence'. (from 'Still Blazin' Phoenix to RJC 2001).

These three the dance styles that formed the backbone of the organisation's innovative performance work. RJC Dance were based at Northern School of Contemporary Dance and toured nationally during the 1990's.

By 2003/4 RJC Dance began to focus the work towards young people and moved into the Mandela Centre, Leeds offering dance sessions to Leeds City Council Youth Service and began to develop RJC Dance Youth Provision.

Today RJC Dance has a special quality reputation of engaging with and progressing young people 4-19 years from all backgrounds and circumstances.