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Our History

Monmouthshire Youth Circus Company (MYCC) is launched.

MYCC and MYDC Greenman Project. An aerial circus and dance spectacular supported by students from the Royal College of Music and Drama and Circomedia.

All 3 companies are part of the Ignite Project

First MYDC/MCDC collaboration.

Studio 2 is extended increasing our capacity for classes and providing another beautiful space for hire.

MCDC is truly inclusive with the collaboration of  disabled and non disabled dancers.

Aerial Circus classes launched for all ages and abilities using trapeze, aerial hoop, silks and ropes.

MCDC commissions first Ignite choreographer.

Monmouthshire Connected Dance Company (MCDC) is launched. An inclusive performance company for disabled and non disabled adults. 

The first Ignite project an Arts Council Wales funded project where young people make the decisions and are involved from  conception to production.

Weekly Danceability classes begin providing opportunities for all members of the community to participate in the arts regardless of ability.

The Dance Centre is opened after renovation of the gymnasium in the old grammar school.

Dance Blast is founded by Sally and Emma Carlson as a peripatetic community dance project.


Monmouthshire Youth Dance Company (MYDC) is launched providing  opportunities for young dancers with an interest in contemporary dance.


Dance Blast founders are twin sisters Sally and Emma Carlson. Both were keen dancers from an early age. Born in the Gwent Valleys, at the age of 17 they moved to London to study dance: Sally at the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance; Emma at London Contemporary Dance School.


Although their careers were to take different directions for a while, it seems the sisters were destined to pursue their love of dance together. Due serious injury, Sally was unable to continue as a professional dance and so retrained in theatre design at Central St Martin’s School of Art, moving to Berlin to work as a theatre designer/artist. Meanwhile Emma returned to Wales to become a performer, choreographer, teacher, mentor and arts manager. However, in 1992, Sally returned to Wales and the sisters decided to form their own dance company, with  – the sisters came together in 1992 to form Carlson Dance Company.


Carlson Dance - the beginning of the story

The company quickly became a force to be reckoned with in contemporary dance, combining wacky, wonderful, beautiful and moving dance with quirky humour and highly polished performances, and achieving rave reviews from amongst others, The Guardian. The company created 14 dance theatre productions, touring to 74 venues nationally and internationally ranging from the Royal Opera House in Kiev Ukraine, to Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff to a residential care home in Caernarfon, North Wales.


One thing that was always close to the sister’s hearts was enabling more people to take part in dance. As Sally explains: “We discovered dance when we were young through local classes – in particular, a workshop run in our community by London Contemporary Dance. We knew first-hand how important outreach work was, and we always wanted to give something like this back.” As a result, community work was an integral part of Carlson Dance: although inevitably it tended to be project-based and focused around tours and performances.


Dance Blast is born

In the Autumn of 1998, the manager of the Borough Theatre Abergavenny, asked Carlson Dance if they’d offer something more extensive. Together they came up with the idea of ‘Dance Blast’, a 12-week programme of workshops for young people with dance as the central focus, but also involving design and music – two areas that are of particular interest for the company to this day.

Young people flocked in from all around Monmouthshire – it was clear that they had a thirst for dance – and so the sisters began to put together plans to form a separate company which would focus more on the outreach aspect of their work. They wanted dance to have a real impact on people and the community. So, with support from the Borough Theatre, the local authority (Monmouthshire County Council) and the Arts Council of Wales, Dance Blast was born.


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