Dancers Emerging Bursary Scheme 2022/23 | Open Call

Tony Mills DEBS

Image credit: Tony Mills by Carmen Klammer

Dance Base Scotland are recruiting four emerging dance / movement artists to join the Dancers Emerging Bursary Scheme (DEBS) - a supportive programme of mentoring, guidance and practical support led by Dance Base and our 2022/23 mentor, dance artist and Artistic Director of Dance Base, Tony Mills!

The DEBS programme provides creative mentorship and practical support for emerging movement artists as they hone their practice and navigate their route forward into the professional dance sector. Running from September to June each year, the programme equips artists who have recently completed a period of training, education or practical experience in dance, with the skills, knowledge and confidence to embark on the next stage of their artistic journey, while also providing a strong and supportive relationship with Dance Base, Scotland’s National Centre of Dance, as they continue to develop their practice and creative work.

Each year the DEBS programme welcomes a dance artist based in Scotland to join the programme as the DEBS mentor, enabling the members to benefit directly from their incredible experience and deep understanding of the dance sector.

This year we are welcoming our new Artistic Director Tony Mills to the role!

Tony Mills is a choreographer and performer who has created work for indoor stages, site-specific environments and outdoor spaces. His work is informed by hip hop, physical theatre, clowning, contemporary dance and the use of text. Tony has also programmed and produced theatre evenings, live events and festivals as well as facilitating artist development activities. He joined Dance Base as Artistic Director in September 2021.


“During this year I hope to impart some of the creative tools and processes I have learned over the years, to help you widen your own creative pallet when it comes to making work that goes in front of an audience. This will involve exploring choreographic concepts, improvisation and partnering, utilising principles of clowning in performance and investigating how components like text, objects, costume and music can contribute to your creative process. We will take time to reflect on these processes and there will be opportunity for you to be able to undertake your own creative explorations, both individually and within groups.

Over the course of the year, we will spend some time discussing and tackling the practicalities of developing your dance career, and when possible, see and discuss work together. My focus overall will be to assist you to discover, articulate and lean into your own creative voice and instincts. We will work together to build the tools and confidence to be able to do so.”

- Tony Mills


During DEBS I achieved more than I thought possible. I hit many career milestones. I had many times when I thought that too much was being asked of me and I navigated this with my mentor’s guidance. I also had a team to celebrate the successes and the experiments. Dance Base has been a great place for me to learn all manner of the skills that are part of being a modern day artistPast DEBS member


What the DEBS programme provides:

By becoming a DEBS member, you will receive the following from September 2022 to June 2023:

  • One to one mentoring from experienced dance artist and Dance Base Artistic Director, Tony Mills (anticipated as 2 x 2 hour meetings each term = 6 meetings in total across the year)
  • Two week-long group residencies at Dance Base with Tony and the other DEBS members held in the Autumn 2021 (5th – 9th September) and Summer 2022 (dates TBC)
  • A residency fee of £600 per residency week - £1,200 in total
  • Travel expenses to attend in person activity at Dance Base
  • Free weekly professional classes at Dance Base
  • Free termly professional workshops at Dance Base
  • Free selected community classes at Dance Base subject to availability
  • Free studio space, subject to availability
  • Group conversation and exploration with the other DEBS members and Tony
  • Practical advice and guidance from the Dance Base Head of Professional Programme, Kirsty Somerville, and the wider team on financial support, logistics and administration to support you now, and moving forward
  • Support with access related needsas required (this could include but not limited to BSL interpretation, contributions towards childcare costs, accessible documents etc.) 


This opportunity is for individuals who:

  • Are based in Scotland and who see their work as based in physical or choreographic practices.
  • Are an emerging artist having completed an initial period of training, education or practical experience in dance or related disciplines within the last two years. This does not need to be academic but you will need to be practicing at an advanced practical level.
  • Have a deep interest and desire to develop a career as a professional dance / movement artist.

Dance Base recognise that there are significant barriers to working in the dance sector and that these challenges are experienced more acutely by those facing marginalisation and deep-rooted systemic injustice. This includes people with protected characteristics as defined by the Equality Act 2010 across age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation alongside those with chronic illness, neurodiversity, parental/caring responsibilities, experience of the immigration system and people from working-class backgrounds.

We are committed to increasing the diversity of artists working in our sector and especially welcome applications from those who identify as having characteristics currently under-represented in our sector.


How to Apply:

To apply for this opportunity please complete the DEBS Application Form

The form will ask for an expression of interest detailing:

  • What interests you about the programme and in working with Tony in particular
  • Why you think you would benefit from the scheme at this point in your career

You will also be asked to provide:

  • A link to footage of you dancing and / or performing. This does not need to be a professional showreel and visual quality, camera and editing skills will not be taken into consideration – we just want to see your physical dance practice and style.
  • A link to more information about your practice - this could be a CV, personal statement or a link to your website.   

Please also complete a copy of our Equality Diversity, and Inclusion monitoring form, if you feel comfortable to do so.



Deadline: Monday 4th July, 11:00am

Interviews: Tuesday 12th July

Applicants informed: by Monday 18th July

Autumn Residency Week: Monday 5th - Friday 9th September 2022

Summer Residency Week: April - July 2022, exact dates TBC


How We Are Selecting: 

The expressions of interest will be read by Tony Mills, mentor and Artistic Director, Kirsty Somerville, Head of Professional Programme at Dance Base, and a member of our Artist Advisory Group.  Selected applicants will be invited to attend an online interview with Tony and Kirsty.

Should you wish to have a conversation about the application process, require this information in an alternative format, or have access requirements we need to meet to support you in making an application please contact Kirsty Somerville, Head of Professional Programme, on 


“One of the most valuable things the DEBS programme has offered me, is a pathway into the professional dance community. It has been somewhat of a stepping stone into taking forward my practice and making and presenting work choreographically as well as connecting with and learning from other early career dance artists, who I carry forward as my peers and friends.” Past DEBS member

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