Author: Sinéad Nunes

The MDI Talent Hub launched in March to nurture artistic development, inspire entrepreneurialism and facilitate cross-artform collaboration amongst Liverpool’s exciting and eager artistic community. 

The response was electric, and we offered places on the programme to 21 artists at various stages of their careers. Initially intended for just 16 creatives, successful applicants have access to free studio space, professional development and mentoring, commissioning and performance opportunities, as well as socials, scratch nights and other opportunities to curate, collaborate and perform.

Creating new work almost immediately, 14 artists from the Hub were busily preparing for the first Scratch Night, due to take place in the same week that performance venues across the country were advised to close their spaces. But rather than demotivating the artists, the potential roadblock has become a great opportunity for innovation.

In the fortnight since, we have been researching, reacting and adapting, transforming the Talent Hub into a fully digital programme. Given the current climate, our primary concern is keeping staff, participants, artists and audiences safe. So, although unable to offer studio space, live performances, social and in-person collaborations, the aim of the project remains the same; to support our artists in their personal and professional development and provide opportunities to share, collaborate and create.

dance connects; physically, emotionally, creatively, organically. 

Talent Hub members are now working together over Facebook, Instagram and Zoom (amongst other platforms), inspiring and motivating each other with ideas and artistic challenges, guided by the experienced MDI team. To date the group have been collaborating on ways to take their artistic output and teaching online, keen to respond to the situation by challenging each other to create new work for a single camera in a confined space, and using their diverse skills to support each other with editing, technology and sound. They will also be creating content for our new Youtube channel: MDI Virtual Studio

Launching later this month, the group will be part of a series of digital symposiums, where industry professionals will appear live in conversation to offer guidance and inspire creativity. April will also be the beginning of Scratch Space, a digital platform for artists to host their own online events, inviting feedback and collaboration from their peers.

As well as creative support, we’re taking steps to support the artists’ emotional and mental wellbeing, encouraging everyone to share how they are feeling and responding to these unprecedented circumstances. The enduring feeling? That dance connects; physically, emotionally, creatively, organically. 

Hub Artists:

Hannah Ballard

James Bowling

Tony Carroll 

Kali Chandrasegaram

Helen Cherry

Diana Disley 

Elizabeth Dobson

Rowena Gander

Jessica Kawalek

Paul Bayes Kitcher 

William Lang

Joss A. LaPorta

Sophie Leigh Barrow

Emma Lippitt

Emily Jay O’Shea

Jen Rees

Adam John Roberts 

Ruth Spitzlei 

Pei Tong

Lauren Tucker

Nicolette Whitley 

Head over to our YouTube Channel, and get dancing at home with the help of our Virtual Studio!

In light of the government’s latest advice for people to avoid non-essential contact, we have taken the decision to close MDI to the public as of Thursday 19 March. The health and safety of our staff, visitors, artists and volunteers is of utmost importance to us, and we believe that given the current landscape, it is not viable to remain open.

We do not yet know how long this closure will last, and will share an update as soon as we know more. Our staff will be working remotely, so please contact us via email in the first instance:

Business, Development and Organisation
Martina Murphy, Director – [email protected]

Talent Hub
Karen Podesta, Project Development Manager – [email protected]

Studio Bookings and Finance
Laura Hall, Finance and Admin Officer – [email protected] or [email protected]

Schools and Education
Paul Doyle, Community Dance Artist – [email protected]

Marketing and General Enquiries
Sinéad Nunes, Marketing and Evaluation Officer – [email protected] or [email protected]

During this period of isolation, it is critical that we continue to support our staff, teachers, artists and creative partners, so we will be working closely with our peers across the city and the country to find ways to deliver our programme.

Thank you to our studio users in advance, for your patience during this unprecedented situation.

We’ll be keeping you updated via our website and social media channels, and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Love and solidarity,

Martina and the MDI Team

This is our current advice and position, but given today’s government briefing we will be implementing further measures which we will be announcing in a statement on Wednesday.

We are following official guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England very closely, ensuring we are up to date at all times. The team at MDI are being kept fully briefed of the exact health and safety requirements and we are undertaking rigorous measures to ensure the best possible hygiene standards throughout our building.

To help combat the spread of COVID-19, we’ve already started putting precautionary measures in place, including:

  • Fully training staff on prevention steps
  • Ensuring all staff wash their hands more frequently and thoroughly
  • Cleaning high contact points in our building more frequently
  • Installing hand sanitisers in each studio
  • Ensuring sanitising hand soap is provided in all of our toilets
  • We have cancelled our Dance for Parkinson and our over 50s classes until further notice
  • Working closely with local health authorities

We request all studio hirers:

  • To communicate clearly to your participants about the cleaning requests above
  • If MDI equipment is used its wiped down after use with cleaning products available in each studio

We request all studio users:

  • Please bring your own mats for yoga and pilates classes
  • Please wash hands before and after class
  • Use card for payment at all MDI classes

Please adhere to the government guidelines and stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

Our building is open as normal and we look forward to welcoming you to MDI

We will continue to keep in touch with you and follow official guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England carefully.

UK Government guidelines

NHS guidelines

Thank you for your ongoing support.

The MDI Team

We’re excited to finally share our highlights from LEAP 2019; packed with your reactions, our favourite moments and clips of the performers and participants who brought LEAP and our first ever Fringe Festival to life! Thank you for being part of it.


If you can spare 5 minutes, please complete the feedback form below, and be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets to our Scratch Night at the Bluecoat in March.

Tell us what you thought

MDI is delighted to announce a successful bid to Arts Council England to fund a brand new Talent Incubator for dance, here in Liverpool.

This year we’re focusing on Talent Development: putting artists back at the centre of what MDI is, and nurturing a creative community in the city. Our aim is to bring artists together from different disciplines to create new work, whilst helping bridge the gap artists face between creating, and making a career out of what they produce.

In November 2019, we launched a second studio space on Hope Street; a place for artists to create, meet and work collaboratively. Studio 2 has been designed to combat the social isolation that can come with freelance and lone working, as well as making MDI a hub for creativity and shared ideas. This new space is the start of a larger vision for MDI, to create a dance hub for Liverpool with artists at its heart. 

The Talent Incubator aims to nurture artistic development, inspire entrepreneurialism and facilitate cross artform collaboration. At its core will be a programme offering artists: 

  • Studio space
  • Professional development
  • Commissioning and performance opportunities 

Artists on the programme will be part of a community where social events, scratch nights and other opportunities to curate, collaborate and perform are fostered, with ongoing support from MDI. Those artists will then have the support and guidance required to apply for three North West Artist Commissions to be presented at LEAP 2020.

Martina Murphy, Director at MDI says “our aim is to support dance artists in a new way, through a more entrepreneurial and DIY approach, ultimately empowering artists to take control and be ambitious in their careers”.

Last year, the introduction of LEAP Fringe meant new opportunities for emerging talent to programme and produce work, and this model will lay the foundations for future festivals, with up and coming performers, choreographers, stage managers, and producers taking more ownership of their creative spaces.

Whilst committed to bridging the gap from dance education to professional careers for new and emerging artists, we also understand the need to support mid-career artists to thrive. Artists at all stages of their careers are invited to join the Talent Incubator, and perform at a scratch event on 21 March at Bluecoat. This event will be a continuation of MDI’s successful partnership with the Bluecoat, following two performances created by visual artist Frances Disley as part of LEAP 2019.

The Talent Incubator programme will be delivered in collaboration with leading arts organisations in the city, including FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), Bluecoat and Liverpool Everyman, with each partnership exploring different ways for artists to work together. This pilot will see a co-commission with FACT as part of exhibition And Say the Animal Responded? (Friday 20 March – Sunday 24 June 2020).

Liverpool and North West based Dance Artists are invited to join the Talent Incubator. Expressions of interest welcome by Friday 14 February.

Leila is a local performer and dance artist who specialises in Contemporary Dance and Physical Theatre. Leila passionately believes that dance is for everyone, and encourages a joyful energy in her classes.

Leila is currently covering Dance for Parkinson’s and other classes whilst Jennie Hale is on maternity leave.