Action Learning

Action Learning is a form of peer mentoring.

Independent Dance and Dancers’ Career Development jointly offer this opportunity for dance professionals seeking a rigorous, reflective space to develop. Over the course of a year, the peer groups meet five times to work through real-life projects and problems in a confidential space, with an experienced facilitator.

A new way of answering problems, and finding feasible solutions.”
(2016 AL participant)


The third set of this programme is currently underway, and we will review the programme with the participants and our partners. Sign up to our mailing list to hear when we launch new sets of dance-specific Action Learning.  

The Dance Professionals Fund generously supports the programme by offering travel bursaries for artists based outside of London to support the cost of travelling to meetings.

Action learning sets

Starting dates
The third set of this pilot programme is underway, and will run until spring 2019.
Professionals working in dance – artists (performers, teachers, choreographers), producers, programmers
From £21 per session; please see below for detail on cost and timing
How to apply
Sign up for our newsletter to hear when the next Action Learning programme starts.


More information: 

What is Action Learning?

Action Learning is a form of peer mentoring. It is practical and focused on finding your own solutions.

A small group of six to eight peers meets regularly over the course of a year and with the support of an experienced facilitator, works through real-life projects and problems in a confidential space. Through the process, participants find individually appropriate actions (rather than prescribing what they ‘should’ do), and reflect on their development.
It is a brilliant tool for addressing complex situations and refreshing your thinking.

How will Action Learning benefit me?

Action Learning recognises the multifaceted contexts independent dance makers and arts professionals have to negotiate in their creative careers. It is powerful as a means for getting out of ‘stuck’ places, which are familiar to any creative maker.

You will:
– develop your career holistically: addressing your specific creative questions as well as overarching issues you encounter
– challenge perceptions and patterns which are no longer useful to you in a supportive environment
– forge new connections, and add a resilient support network for yourself, addressing the isolation freelance artists can experience
– use and share your own knowledge and learning
– enhance your listening and reflection skills, and learning to postpone judgement
– develop your careers and projects through emphasis on taking action

You will work with people who understand your working context, but do not have a personal stake in your work, allowing the conversation to be both specific and supportive.

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Timing and cost

Each set will meet five times over the course of a year.

The first date will be organised by the facilitator, and future dates will be agreed by the group.

Standard rate £135
Concession* £105
This equates to a cost of less than £7 an hour (or just over £5 if you’re eligible for concessions).
These prices are highly subsidised – the actual cost per person would be over £300. 

The fee for all five sessions is payable in full at the end of the first meeting. If you are not able to pay the full amount up front, please contact ID regarding a two-installment payment option.

If you choose to opt out after the first session, you only pay for that one session. If you choose to opt out after that, we are not able to refund the fee, as we are not able to replace you once the set is underway.

*(JSA, DLA, full-time students, recipients of Universal or Pension Credit – proof of status required)

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Who facilitates the sessions?

The sessions will be led by Delia Barker, a trained Action Learning facilitator with a background in dance and the performing arts sector.

Delia is programmes director at the Roundhouse, an incredible live music and performance spaces which is also a charity which uses the power of creativity change the lives of young people aged 11- 25 the chance to engage with the arts through its music, media and performance projects.  Her previous role was as director of English National Ballet School, a world leading specialist training centre for aspiring and highly talented young ballet dancers aged 16-19 continuously rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted. Delia is also chair of the board for Studio Wayne McGregor, a prominent dance company and part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio, who have just opened a world-class arts space at Here East in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford.  Delia is a qualified organisational development practitioner certified by the NTL Institute.  She is experienced in organisation development, executive leadership and management.

Delia qualified 8 years ago in ALS facilitation and Virtual ALS facilitation with Action Learning Associates. 

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How are the sets put together?
Each group will be chosen to reflect a range of experiences and backgrounds, to enable rich, multifaceted discussion, based on information on your application form.
Do I have to commit to all five sessions?
Yes. In order to build on shared learning and maintain trust, all members should be present for each meeting. Poor set attendance impacts the energy in the set because members do not participate in each other’s presentations and are not there to feedback on actions.
Especially when projects come to a head, or deadlines approach, it can be difficult to stick to a fixed date in the diary. However, the pay-off of taking the time to pause, reflect and plan with your set more than makes up for it.
What if I change my mind?
If you decide after the first session that action learning is not for you, you just pay for that one session and leave the set.
What if there is a conflict of interest?
Before the first session, we will send you the list of names who will be in your set. If there is someone with whom you would not feel comfortable sharing a set, we will try to place you in an alternative set. This will be an entirely confidential process.
What does the fee cover?
The facilitator’s fee, space, tea & coffee, and administration. We have raised additional funds to be able to offer this at heavily subsidised rates.
More questions? We’ve compiled this handy FAQ sheet.
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Delivered in partnership with Dancers’ Career Development
Supported by Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund
Travel bursaries offered by the Dance Professionals Fund

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