Skip to main content

LEAP Dance Festival celebrates female artists and the transformative power of dance

Tue 16 October 2018

Trinity Laban alumnus Karen Gallagher MBE has launched this year’s 10-day contemporary dance festival in Liverpool, with every performance in the programme featuring female protagonists to mark 100 years since many women gained the right to vote. 

The suffrage-themed LEAP Dance Festival runs from 2-12 November at venues across Liverpool Hope University’s Creative Campus.

Guests at an October launch event were welcomed in fitting style as performers appeared in a staged Suffragette-style protest outside the venue.

Merseyside Dance Initiative (MDI) Artistic Director Karen Gallagher MBE graduated from Trinity Laban in 1985 after completing a dance theatre diploma and community dance certificate, crediting the conservatoire with being “instrumental’ to her career achievements in dance. Karen was awarded an MBE in 2012 for her services to dance, after building MDI into one of the UK’s leading strategic dance agencies.

On Thursday 8 November, the creative work of black women in dance – and the wide-ranging influence of the African diaspora – will be put centre stage with a day of workshops, performance and discussion titled Cultiv8.

Also an alumnus of Trinity Laban is Beverley Glean MBE, founder, Chief Executive, and Artistic Director of IRIE! Dance. She is one of five women taking part in the Cultiv8 panel discussion Empowered Pioneering Black Women in Dance. Beverley has worked in the field of African Peoples’ Dance for over 30 years, alongside artists from West Africa, Europe, USA, and the Caribbean.

MDI Artistic Director Karen Gallagher MBE said –

“Cultiv8 originally started in 2008 and is very much about how we as an organisation ensure diversity is instrumental in all we do.It still stands today that we have to ensure there is an opportunity for black women to be seen. How do we keep making what we do visible? This 2018 event is a full day of reflection on our cultural diversity, and to shine a light on black women in dance.”

This year’s LEAP Dance Festival will mark the Artistic Director’s final year. Karen has championed the development of dance across the Liverpool city region for over 30 years and during her time at MDI has received a great many accolades and awards for her work.

For full information on the festival visit

(Main image: MDI Artistic Director Karen Gallagher MBE launches LEAP)