ESD Presents

Annual Contemporary Dance programme celebrating the most influential & creative minds of the past

ESD Presents is a new & annual Contemporary Dance programme in Newcastle upon Tyne – the aim is to inform, stimulate, entertain, & encourage creative debate behind the most influential & creative minds of the past

27 July - 1 August 2020, ESD Presents:



A platform for dancers & others passionate about the life & work of Martha Graham, following a successful pilot platform, “Graham in UK” in 2018, devised by Eliot Smith, and in collaboration with The Martha Graham Dance Company.


From 27 July - 1 August 2020 hosted at Newcastle College, ESD offers dancers a Summer Intensive in Graham Technique™ & Repertory; Composition; Performance and Professional Support, specifically designed for students and professionals in the UK & Europe who wish to learn & progress intensively in the Graham vocabulary.


Classes are taught by former members of The Martha Graham Dance Company; Blakeley White-McGuire and David Chase.

Above: Martha Graham and Bertram Ross by Carl Van Vechten, 27 June 1961.

Above:Martha Graham in Herodiade.

Photo by Cris Alexander.

Photo courtesy of Martha Graham Resources


Martha Graham (1894-1991) was an American modern dancer and choreographer and is recognised as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, alongside Picasso, James Joyce, Stravinsky, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Graham created a movement language based upon the expressive capacity of the human body. In 1998, TIME magazine named Martha Graham “Dancer of the Century,” and People magazine named her among the female “Icons of the Century.” Her approach to dance and theatre revolutionised the art form and her technique has been taught worldwide. Today, it continues to both serve as a rich and powerful training method and to influence contemporary dance.

"Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion." Martha Graham


Blakeley White-McGuire (Graham Technique Teacher & Repertory Teacher), former Principal Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company is a New York-based dance performer, maker, and teacher. She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College, USA. Critically acclaimed as a Principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company (2002-2016, 2017), she has embodied the iconic roles of 20th-century Modern dance to critical acclaim. As a leading practitioner of Graham’s technique, she has materially contributed to three historical re-imaginings: Ardent Song, Imperial Gesture, and Notes on a Voyage.
Throughout her career, Blakeley has created with and performed in new works by 21st Century contemporary artists including Anne Bogart SITI/ Company, Jacquelyn Buglisi, Jayoung Chung, Martha Clarke, Sean Curran, Sue deBeer, Nacho Duato, Daniel Ezralow, Larry Kegwin, Michael Klien and Steve Volk, Lar Lubovitch, Richard Move, Bulareyaung Pagarlava, Marta Renzi, Pascal Rioult, Luca Veggetti, Robert Wilson and Ryan Woodward on Google’s Martha Graham Doodle.
Blakeley has served on the faculties of the Ailey School, the New School, The Actors’ Studio and New York City’s famed LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts as a teacher of technique, composition, repertory, and improvisation. A faculty member of the Martha Graham Center since 2002, she is also a coach and official regisseur, restaging Martha Graham’s repertory internationally, most recently for Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance and Ballet Vlaanderen. Blakeley continues to create, collaborate, research, lecture and perform as a faculty member of the American Dance Festival. A passionate teacher, she leads master classes and residencies for companies, universities, studios, and festivals worldwide.
David Chase (Graham Technique Teacher & Repertory Mentor), former Principal Dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company (1973-1978) is a San Francisco-based teacher and lecturer in Martha Graham technique, repertory and acting. David is a guest teacher of Martha Graham technique at The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, in New York City, NYC, Mudra in Brussels, Rudra Bejart in Lausanne and Alonzo King’s Lines ballet school.

David is a qualified teacher of Zena Roommett floor barre, for the New York City Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theatre  Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School and members of Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet.

David has appeared as an actor in independent films, on stage and on TV.
Angela Reay (Ballet Teacher), is a Ballet Teacher (ARAD QTLS) trained in Classical Ballet and Modern Dance at the Northern Ballet School in Manchester. On completing her training she secured a position as a soloist ballet dancer with the Stadtischen Buhnen Muenster in Germany. She then went on to have an extensive international 12-year career as a professional dancer in the State Theatres of Germany, performing in classical and neo-classical ballets, contemporary dance works, musical theatre productions, dance theatre, operas, and operettas as well as working in television. She later trained as a specialist classical ballet teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and worked as a freelance RAD teacher for 4 years before joining the Performing Arts Academy at Newcastle College. Angela works at Dance City, delivering the Professional Ballet Classes for regional, national and international dance artists. She works on a weekly basis with independent dance artists and the dancers from the regional dance companies.
Eliot Smith (Programme Director and Composition Teacher), is Artistic Director of Eliot Smith Dance, Eliot was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, studied ballet and contemporary dance at London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS) and completed the Martha Graham School Summer School 2013. Before forming his own company Eliot danced many works for other choreographers.
Since 2014 Eliot Smith Dance has received numerous grant awards, allowing the Company to excel and Eliot to be acknowledged as one of the UK’s rising contemporary dance choreographers. 
Eliot was an Associate Artist at Dance City (UK) in 2017-2018 and an Artist in Residence at The Bowes Museum in 2018 - 2019. In 2018, Eliot Smith devised 'Graham in UK' in collaboration with The Martha Graham Dance Company. Eliot was nominated as a Finalist in the‘Performing Artist of the Year’ category at The Journal Culture Awards 2018, was shortlisted for‘ Dance Personality of The Year' in the One Dance UK 2018 Awards, and was again nominated at the One Dance UK 2019 Awards.
A new book 'Martha & Me' is a biography that traces Eliot Smith's determination to welcome Martha Graham back to the UK.
ESD Presents: MARTHA GRAHAM, Summer 2020 Intensive
Date(s): 27 July - 1 August 2020
Location: Newcastle College, Rye Hill Campus, Scotswood Rd, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 7SA (England)
Open to dance students from England and around the world, aged 18 years+, for intermediate to professionals 
Cost: £225 inclusive of all classes
Holding Deposit: £25.00 upon registration
Payment deadline: £200 by 17 July 2020
In case of cancellation after May 30th / 50% refund
In case of cancellation after June 30th / no refund
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Bank Address: HSBC, 110 Grey Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6JG​
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Eliot Smith Dance, 2 Lansdowne Place (Ground Floor), Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 1HR

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(Schedule subject to change)

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Coronavirus update

Posted on 16 March 2020
Eliot Smith Dance know that there is lots of discussion and concern about the potential effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. 
Please click here to read Eliot Smith Dance Coronavirus Policy and latest update(s)>


ESD Presents: MARTHA GRAHAM, intends to reintroduce one of the most iconic choreographers, Martha Graham, to audiences and dance professionals through an exploration in words and performance of her influence on the art form.
  • Capture the Dancers
  • Open Forum Discussion
  • Lament - Community Dance Work 
  • Beginners Graham Based Technique Class by Eliot Smith 
  • Who is Martha Graham? A brief history of Martha Graham by David Chase
  • Gala Performance 
Dates, Venues and Tickets will be announced in March 2020.
For general enquires about ESD Presents: MARTHA GRAHAM, contact Eliot Smith Dance via email at 
For Press, contact us at
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