Conference 2022 Guest Speakers

Graeme Danby

Graeme Danby was born in Consett, County Durham in 1962 and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London with the Canadian Baritone Bruce Boyce. In an operatic career that now spans over 39 years Graeme is recognised as one of the most prolific character Bass soloists of his generation.

As a principal Graeme has sung over 1200 performances at the London Coliseum home of English National Opera. Roles with ENO include Sarastro (Magic Flute), Sacristan (Tosca), Pistol (Falstaff), Don Basilio (Barber of Seville), Ribbing (A Masked Ball), Zuniga (Carmen), Somnus (Semele), Dr Bartolo & Antonio (Marriage of Figaro), Banker & Journalist (Lulu), Wazir (Kismet), Doctor Grenvil (La Traviata), Pooh Bah (Mikado), Ceprano (Rigoletto), Quince & Snug (Midsummer Nights Dream), Brander (Damnation of Faust), Swallow (Peter Grimes), Old Man (King Priam), Narbal (The Tojans), Count Rostov (War and Peace), Sciarone (Tosca), Priest (Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk), Pimen (Boris Godonov), Lorenzo (Capuletti ed Montecchi) and Elviro (Xerxes). Roles at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden  - Charrington in the World Premiere of Lorin Mazel’s 1984, Billy Jackrabbit in Fanciulla del West, The Casino Manager in  the acclaimed Richard Jones production of Prokofiev’s The Gambler, Marquis in La Traviata, Sacristan in Tosca and , 2nd Armed Man in Sir David McVicars production of Magic Flute.

Roles elsewhere include Ashby (Fanciulla del West), Superintendent Budd (Albert Herring), Dr Bartolo (Marriage of Figaro) for Opera North, Le Governor (Conte Ory), Osmin (Die Entfuhrung), Antonio (Marriage of Figaro) for Glyndebourne Festival, Fyodor/Big Boss (A Dogs Heart), Snug (Midsummer Nights Dream) at La Scala, Milan, 1984 in Valencia, Dr Bartolo, Swallow and Somnus for Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp and Ghent, Harrison Birtwhistles Punch and  Judy in Paris, Publio (Clemenza Di Tito), The Doctor (Wozzeck) in Salzburg, Dick Deadeye (HMS Pinafore) in Dublin, Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola) for Scottish Opera and Opera de Rouen, Superintendent Budd at The Birgitta Festival in Tallinn,  Brag (Fairy Queen) at Theatro Liceau Barcelona, Where The Wild Things Are in the Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles with the LA Symphony Orchestra/ Gustavo Dudamel, Dr Bartolo (Barber of Seville), Il Re (Aida) and Don Magnifico for Irish National Opera in Dublin/Wexford, Swallow in the Theatro San Carlos Lisbon, Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, Dr Bartolo and Hotel Manager (Powder Her Face) in Fribourg and Paris as well as Quince and Dr Bartolo for Israeli Opera in Tel Aviv.

Concert appearances  - Royal Albert Hall, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Festival Hall, Bozart Concert Hall Brussels, Palau Des Artes Valencia, Queen Elizabeth Hall, The Sage Gateshead, Die Singel Antwerp, Dublin National Concert Hall, Dunblane Cathedral, Barbican, Bridgewater Hall Manchester, NECC Birmingham, Bury St Edmonds Cathedral, Hexham Abbey, Snape Maltings Aldeburgh, Caird Hall Dundee, Eden Court Theatre Inverness and Villa D’este Lake Como.

Graeme’s recordings include Marriage of Figaro, Salome, A Masked Ball, Magic Flute, Lulu and Will Todd’s The Burning Road for EMI/Decca. Operas for TV encompass Thomas Ades The Tempest from Covent Garden, Jonathan Millers Mikado from ENO, The Importance of Being Earnest NOF production from Paris, La Cenerentola from Dublin Bord Gais and Barber of Seville from the National Opera House in Wexford.

Eliot Smith


A critically acclaimed British dancer and choreographer, born in 1990 in Newcastle upon Tyne, Eliot Smith FRSA is the founder and creative director of Eliot Smith Dance (ESD).

Recently shortlisted for One Dance UK’s People’s Choice Award, and in 2018 and 2019 for their Dance Personality of The Year, Eliot was also a finalist in the Performing Artist of the Year category at The Journal Culture Awards 2018.  He is continuously supported and commissioned by leading UK dance agencies, venues and funding organisations.

His artistic inspiration for his diverse portfolio of work is created using traditional techniques (Martha Graham based), and through his collaboration with award-winning composers, musicians, and designers, he aims to create works that are dynamic, diverse, and relevant.

His dance works, whether arranged for stage, outdoors, or non-traditional venues, have all toured extensively across the North of England and other parts of the UK, and further afield, with performances in Paris, New York and Rome.

On behalf of ESD, Eliot has commissioned award-winning international choreographers to create new works for the Company, with the aim of broadening the experience of his audiences and exposing them to different perspectives in contemporary dance.

Upon graduating from The London Contemporary Dance School, Eliot studied for a short time in New York at The Martha Graham School (MGDS).  He returned to MGDS in 2017 as part of his successful project 'Inviting Martha Graham back to the UK', supported by Arts Council England's Artists' International Development Fund, and subsequently self-published a book "Martha & Me" which traces his passion for Martha Graham.  As a result, and with the imprimatur of The Martha Graham Dance Company, Eliot founded and directed 'Graham in UK in 2018', a platform for dancers and others passionate about the life and work of the great American choreographer Martha Graham, Eliot was an Associate Artist at Dance City in 2017 and an Artist in Residence at The Bowes Museum in 2018. Eliot retired from dancing in summer 2021.

Eliot is a Trustee at The Bowes Museum since autumn 2021.

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