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Mary Prestidge’s professional dance career has spanned 5 decades. Originally an Olympic gymnast in the 1960’s, her first professional dance work was with Ballet Rambert (1969-1974). In the mid 70’s after a year in New York in the thrall of the post modern dance and theatre scene, Mary co-founded X6 Dance Space, with dancers, Jacky Lansley, Emilyn Claid, Fergus Early and Maedee Dupres and its successor Chisenhale Dance Space, in London. These artist-led organisations provided an important context for the research and development of new dance forms and pioneered new ways of presenting work. Mary’s interest in improvisation and contact improvisation, cross-discipline and process-based work began at this time and she brought these new approaches and aesthetics of dance and performance to a growing independent dance scene.

Based in Liverpool since 1995, Mary was key in the development of a dance programme at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) until 2008. She additionally and strategically placed herself at the heart of the dance community inspired to develop a coherent support structure and network for independent and artist-led initiatives. In association with three other dance artists — Andrea Buckley, Jo Blowers and Paula Hampson — she formed Liverpool Improvisation Collective to create resources and frameworks for their individual and collective research as dance makers, performers, educators and producers. The LIC have recently been awarded three years of funding, from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, to develop their artistic work and to support the participation and programming of dance within the context of Bluecoat, a central arts venue in Liverpool.