Catherine Sleeman

Catherine Sleeman

Freelance Doodle Dancer Horsham and surrounding area

Catherine is a dance artist who believes that dance has the power to make a meaningful contribution to everyone's mental and physical wellbeing. She graduated from Trinity Laban in 2021 and now performs, creates, and teaches dance in a range of settings across West Sussex and beyond. She is also a talented writer who is excited to explore how her love for writing can add to the creative content of Doodles delivery. Catherine is available to deliver On Your Marks, Get Set Go and MAD Primary workshops in Horsham and the surrounding areas, as well as Doodle Dance Commissions.

Catherine has joined the team as a Freelance Doodle Dancer seeking to empower and equip children through creative exploration and expressive movement. She completed her training funded by Arts Council England last Autumn and has continued to develop her collaboration with Jo developing further ideas for her own practice.

Catherine is available to deliver On Your Marks, Get Set Go and MAD workshops in Horsham and the surrounding areas.

For more info you can contact her directly: or 07840749796

During Catherine’s training alongside Jo Cone she reflected on Doodles impact on the participants and her own learning …

“It’s a morning of sunshine and showers – rich yellow light on the South Downs, damp roads, and dark clouds. I love the intensity of light and shade that this kind of weather brings and I realise a couple of hours later that it is a lot like the intensity of childhood. Gold-glow smiles flit suddenly into tears with the same force and fragility as the sky. It is obvious in the big things; in my memories of joy running over, running wild, before ending with the sharp smack of hands and knees tumbling to gritty tarmac – the shock and sting of it sending me howling home for plasters. It is in the boy who comes to find me across the hall, leads me proudly by the hand to show me his paper-and-pencil monster only to find that, when he tries to tear it free from the shared canvas, it rips across the middle. It is in the girl who, at the end of the session suddenly withdraws – huddled against the wall in a sad heap – and refuses to put on her shoes because she doesn’t want Doodle Dance to be over.

These seemingly minor tragedies are felt in large-scale by the children who experience them – brutally sharp, explosive but fleeting. In the same way that weeks last for eternities and slides are like skyscrapers and short walks seem endless and shallow stairs require massive steps, everything that adults see as small is magnified through a child’s eyes. The intensity of sun and rain permeates the excitement of holding a ribbon and the injustice of not being given a pencil, the delight of dancing…

It is fitting that these thoughts of size and scale and proportion arise within the context of a lesson that’s all about big and small. To be more scientific it’s about developing fine and gross motor skills – both of which are crucial to mark-making. To be less scientific, it’s about exploring the size of imagination in all its vast and tiny capacities. It’s about seeing the school hall from a giant’s-eye-view.

Beneath the eye of the giant we make enormous paintings with our whole arms employed as paintbrushes, and we make tiny drawings with our little fingers, and we take it in turns to manipulate reams and reams of ribbon into shared scribble-shapes. We practice opening our hands to be big and closing them small and tight around our section of ribbon. We practice pushing and pulling with the torso to stretch and squiggle our loop of blue. We practice walking around that loop with two fingers, and walking round it with two feet – tracing and placing and learning to coordinate ourselves in relation to something else, to balance on a tightrope. We do the big and we do the small – recognising that both are needed and valuable.

For me, this is new. The big being valuable. Of course it’s valuable. But no one ever told me that I needed to be big before I got to be small. I found that out two weeks ago when I asked what the reasoning for bringing such large expanses of paper to the Doodle classroom was.

I think of my own experience of learning to write – how the most important thing was that I could fit my letters between two narrow-ruled lines and how, by the age of six I was fully invested in the quest to prove that I was good by making my marks as tiny as possible. A small child intent on making myself smaller. Did I live for so long between two narrow-ruled lines because no one taught me that it was good to practice being big and wild and free sometimes too?

I wonder how much of this these children will remember when they’re older – whether when they put pen to paper in ten years’ time they’ll still think about pencils and ribbons on a cold hall floor and whether, when they grow up, they’ll still want to make artwork that can be read by the curious giant watching over them from above. I wonder whether, when they’re my age, they’ll remember how important their imagination is and have conscious recollections of learning to write by being permitted to scribble first.

But maybe it doesn’t work like that, maybe Doodle Dance won’t be remembered like that – those sharp brightly-lit childhood vignettes that last forever – but I know that it will be remembered all the same. It will be remembered in a subconscious, implacable way, absorbed into their bodily archives so that each mark they make is an act of recollection. The offerings we bring to this school hall on a Thursday morning will live on, unacknowledged, in their everyday moving and marking and making – remembered by their bodies long after their brains have forgotten the day they let a giant peer down into their world to watch them draw.”

Catherine looks forward to further learning and devising with Doodle and Jo welcomes Catherine to the team knowing she will also make her Mark!








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