CLASS OF 2017: DMU dance duo wins £5,000 Channel 4 commission

A bold exploration of gender and movement has earned two Dance graduates from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) a £5,000 commission by a cutting-edge Channel 4 arts strand.


Following a week-long Creative Lab programme hosted at DMU, recent graduates Mac Daniel Palima and Hettie Holman beat stiff competition from two other Drama Studies and Dance student groups.

A series of masterclass sessions in the digital arts helped them hone their filming, editing and pitching skills, with support, advice and critical feedback from industry experts.

Their winning performance will be a part of Channel 4’s First Acts - a series of films celebrating England’s most exciting 16 to 24-year-old artists and filmmakers – funded by the Arts Council England. 

The performance is a development of a live solo piece Mac choreographed for his final-year assessment, exploring gender expression and movement.

The performer and choreographer said: “I’ve worked hard to find my own identity as an artist during my three years at DMU and it feels really good to have my work acknowledged in this way. This commission is a very big deal for me.

“I’ve always been interested in gender neutrality and finding an androgynous way of moving has influenced my work, as well as my research projects.”


With Grant Black, Creative Director of Rural Media

Taking the work from a solo piece to a screen piece required patience and determination.

“Working with Hettie was new and different, but it was so refreshing to delve into digital media. It’s something I’d never done before and an area that Hettie is very strong in,” said Mac.

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For Hettie, getting this far in the competition has been both affirming and exciting.

She said: “Honestly, I couldn't be happier. So much work has gone into the final year of university, with my main focus on developing skills to becoming a well-rounded artist.

“I was so happy when Mac asked to collaborate with me. He is such a beautiful dancer, which made my job in helping develop his live solo into a screen piece so exciting.

“I'm really inspired by his movement and the concept behind it. We seem to complement each other really well as he has a clear vision of progression which I can support through the filming and structure of the edit. I can't wait to continue this project.”


Rehearsals during the Creative Lab programme

Supported by Rural Media, the duo will have three months from December to finalise their work for distribution across Channel 4 platforms.

Grant Black, Creative Director of Rural Media, said: ‘It was fantastic to see how the staff at DMU helped the students develop such a wonderful array of creative work throughout the week.

“Though every idea had bags of potential, Mac and Hettie’s stood out conceptually. The team at Rural Media can’t wait to help them bring their idea to life for the First Acts programme.”

Hettie added: “I'm really excited to work with mentors from the industry that I can learn from and continue developing my skills and knowledge in the filming and editing processes.

“It would be incredible to get the opportunity to broadcast our work, I'm really passionate about this piece and having such a widely viewed platform to present it on would be amazing!”

The Creative Lab programme is the brainchild of Jo Breslin, Senior Lecture in Dance at DMU. It’s hoped that last month’s pilot sessions will be the first in an annual event.

As well as Grant Black, industry guests included Jonnie Turpie, Founder and Director of Maverick TV; Executive Producer Amanda White; Anand Bhatt, Producer at the Aakash Odedra Company; Catherine Bray, Producer and Editor for Channel 4’s Random Acts; and Laura McGregor, Head of Photography and Video at DMU.

Posted on Wednesday 2nd August 2017

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