Social Media

Getting Dressed with Second Hand Dance - Rosie Heafford Interview

In 2013 Rosie Heafford established disabled-led Second Hand Dance fresh out of dance school. In the proceeding 9 years the company has grown and are now Artistic Advisors for Sadler's Wells in the field of early years dance and the company is also set to join ACE's National Portfolio in 2023.

The mission of Second Hand Dance is to create beautiful, sensory dance experiences for both in person and digitially. These performances are accessible and welcome to all bodies.

The company now bring their latest project Getting Dressed. Getting Dressed is a set of five short dance films for ages 2 - 7 years of age. The premise is to get children and their adults into a world of swirling skirts, sashaying socks, glitter ball jackets and tumbling t-shirts. The films transform everyday clothes into a celebration of our individutality. 

These five films are being screened at DanceEast in Ipswich on various dates until 23rd April and also will be available to view online via the University of Michigan to anyone anywhere from the 13th to 23rd February 2023. 

I spoke with Rosie all about the project. "Getting Dressed was originally a live show we made in 2017 which was all about celebrating individuality through clothes. In the lockdown, we started making dance films and I saw the potential for revisiting this show in a digital format. I felt that the colours and clothes could translate well into film. I was also really keen to find new ways of working creatively with access tools such as audio description and BSL/animated music interpretation so the films could be made available in different formats to meet those needs."

At the core of Rosie's and the companies work is accesbility. The films can be accessed in a range of formats including with British Sign Language, a relaxed version with plainer colours and animation removed and audio described. For the audio described version the company worked with a specially trained group of young audio describers aged between 9 and 11 who worked alongside audio described Jenny Stewart Cosgrove to develop their own methods for audio describing dance. 

How does Rosie and the company go about taking everyday clothing and turning into expressive dance movements. "We already had some choreography from the live show and we also thought about how different items of clothing would lend them selves to interesting visuals on film. For example, socks are close to the body and often very colourful so we used them in a kaleidoscopic effect. The T shirt film is a duet and is more of a story between the child and their grown up about the different ways to wear a T shirt. We did workshops to see which items of clothing had the most movement possibilities – for example, we found swishy skirts worked better than dresses."

Taking on the artistic process of creating dance films for younger audience is clearly something Rosie has enjoyed. "In 2020, when we started creating dance films for young children we found there wasn’t really any digital dance out there for that age group, nor exploration of what it could be. So it was exciting to explore a new genre and its possibilities. I think what many companies found through the pandemic was that digital has the potential to increase access to those who can’t or wouldn’t go to the  theatre as the films can be viewed in your home."

Creating for a younger audiences clearly comes with it's own unique challenges and it's been imporant for Rosie to work closely with that target audience for what they will take away from seeing the films. "Children have been involved in the process of making the films throughout from the process of creation through to the editing, when Zoom watch parties informed our decisions. We want children to be inspired to play with clothes in their own homes. We also want to bring the fun into something that children do every day and for some, is a chore. For example, my daughter hates getting dressed! We want to bring fun, magical moments into the process."

Rosie's own journey from dance-school to Artistic Director and through to the current day has shaped her journey and the journey of Second Hand Dance. "Part of how I reflect on that is related to my own journey. After I founded Second Hand dance, the company grew and opportunities to tour, create and present increased. At the same time, I also began to experience chronic pain and fatigue that presented barriers to me working and after a long journey of diagnosis and acceptance, in 2017, I began to identify as disabled. This made me think about access in different ways and think about the ways in which my work could translate to meet different needs – for example, there’s no point having text captions for a child who can’t read, so we created picture captions instead. The Getting Dressed films are also available in versions that include British Sign Language, a plain background version with no animation and softer colours for those who prefer less sensory stimulus, and audio described, with the audio description provided by children."

Getting Dressed runs at DanceEast in Ipswich until 20th December 2022 and then from 13th February to 5th March (exc. 18th and 19th) and from 3rd to 23rd April 2023. The films also run online through the University of Michigan from 13th to 23rd February 2023. Register for free at Find out more about Second Hand Dance from

Post a Comment


Theme by STS