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Call for dancers to help bring house’s history to life

A unique project is calling on people in Leeds to dust off their dancing shoes and help bring 300 years of history at Temple Newsam House to life.
An open workshop will be held at the house tomorrow (June 2), where visitors will get the chance to find out more about the performance and decide if they want to take part.

Part of the house’s current celebration of the work of world-renowned landscape designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the finished performance will see participants move through the house, using dance and movement to highlight some of its historic features.

The dance, which will take place later this summer, will then make its way into the gardens, which have evolved over 300 years as different owners have occupied the iconic Tudor Jacobean mansion.

As well as learning more about the story of one of the city’s most famous locations, those taking part will get the chance to meet new people, learn some new moves and stay fit and active.


Shelley Dring, Temple Newsam’s learning and access officer, said:

“The experience of creating dance in a particular place is a specific way of thinking about body, space, image, and imagination.
“It questions how to create a performance that will enhance or change the perspective of a particular place. The performance will animate the space, highlight its beauty, and allow visitors to have a different feel about the venue.”

The upcoming dance performance coincides with the house’s Visioning the Landscape exhibition, which marks the 300th anniversary of the birth of ‘Capability’ Brown.

The exhibition, which runs until October 30 has seen benches placed throughout the house’s 43 rooms at points where visitors can take in some of the estate’s beautiful views.

They can also appreciate some of the house’s collection of fine art, ceramics, textiles and a 3D model of Capability Brown’s proposed alterations to Temple Newsam.

‘Capability’ Brown made the plan for ‘intended alterations’ at Temple Newsam in 1762.

While some ‘Brownifications’ were finished, the complete plan for Temple Newsam never came to fruition because of the death of Charles, the 9th Viscount in 1778.

His wife, Frances, lost heart following her husband's death and the project was largely abandoned.

But some work did continue in the decades after Frances’s death, such as the walled gardens, the rhododendron walks and shrubberies which can still be seen today.


Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said:

“The house and landscape at Temple Newsam are part of the city’s identity and it’s wonderful that we are celebrating the history of such a beautiful and much-loved location.

“I’m sure this dance performance will be a unique and vibrant experience that will really help to bring centuries of heritage to life.”

The open dance workshop takes place on Thursday, June 2, from 10.30am-1pm.
Rehearsals will then take place on July 26, Aug 2, Aug 9, Aug 16 and Aug 23 from 1.30-3.30pm.

The final performance will take place on Aug 30.

If you would like to take part, please contact Shelley Dring, learning and access officer at Temple Newsam House, Leeds by email at or telephone 0113 3367460.