Coalesce Dance Theatre / WINNERS

Rachel Maffei and Fern Wareham are alumni of the BA (Hons) Dance programme. Together, upon graduation in 2017, they formed Coalesce Dance Theatre and achieved limited company status in 2018. Since setting up the company they have presented new work at New Adelphi Theatre, Z-Arts, The Lowry, Contact Theatre, The Edinburgh Fringe, The Brewery in Kendal, York Theatre Royal and the Blue Elephant in London.

Rachel and Fern make professional dance theatre and run a series of projects for the dance communities of Greater Manchester and across the North West. They have established an ethos which places people at the heart of their practice, specifically supporting and making space for underrepresented female voices in their work, enabling female stories of all kinds to be told through exciting and powerful dance theatre. In 2019, they created and toured their first full length show titled ‘The Cocoon’ – a raw and uplifting celebration of womanhood using music, spoken word and exhilarating choreography to explore the female experience.

Coalesce Dance Theatre has been successful in obtaining Arts Council funding to support four projects. Most recently, this has included the creation of a new dance theatre show for families and young people in the region. The project tackles the theme of climate change and is designed to educate and inspire young people through socially engaged arts practice. The company regularly approach subjects that are current and topical, uplifting and engaging audiences with their thoughtfully crafted choreography. Their overriding mission is to connect people of all backgrounds with dance, through exciting and powerful performance, educational outreach and professional development opportunities.

In 2019 Coalesce created DanceConnect, in partnership with The University of Salford – an affordable and regular training class for students and professional dancers across the North West. In the following year, during the pandemic, Coalesce worked tirelessly to keep the dance community of Greater Manchester connected and moving by providing free workout sessions to help boost morale and wellbeing of fellow professional dancers. They also created a ‘Dance for Camera’ project, funding the activity by holding DanceConnect contemporary workshops. Income from these workshops was also used to support for the return of DanceConnect, all to help company members and their established dance community to stay connected and support wellbeing during the pandemic. At a time where staff from many national portfolio organisations were furloughed and inactive, this activity provided a valuable training resource whilst continuing to develop Coalesce’s client base and serve their local community.

The Rising Star Award aims to recognise the success of a recent graduates who have made great leaps and bounds since graduating. The University of Salford are immensely proud of the entrepreneurial spirit of both Rachel and Fern to date, and we cannot wait to see where their next steps take them.

Rachel and Fern say “It is really nice to be recognised by the University for the work we’ve done over the last four years. Salford has done so much for us since graduating. On receiving this award, we would like to thank our tutors who supported us through our studies and who have continued to support our journey moving forward – Lisa Cullen, Sarah Lockwood and Debbie Milner. We’d also like to thank all of the amazing students that we work with at the University. They give 100% and are a fantastic bunch of people. It’s so lovely to be a part of their journey as alumni, seeing them constantly progress and being a part of their professional growth.”

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