MARIE McCluskey MBE, artistic director of Swindon Dance, is to retire in January next year.

After 36 at the helm of one of the country's pioneering dance organisations, which works from the town hall in Regent Circus, Marie is set to retire in January 2016 from the organisation she founded.

Marie established Swindon Dance in 1979 and led the organisation from its beginnings in the Community Arts Department of Swindon Borough Council - formerly Thamesdown Borough Council - through to its transition as an Independent Charitable Trust in 2005.

Marie said: “It has been an amazing privilege to have led Swindon Dance and I have been very fortunate to have been supported by outstanding and dedicated staff, teachers and dance artists throughout this time.

"I have always been continually inspired by the energy and passion of the people of all ages, abilities and interests who have been part of this journey at Swindon Dance, where ‘ordinary people have achieved extraordinary things‘ through the power of dance in their lives.”

The Board of Swindon Dance is now recruiting a successor, with the vision and experience to lead Swindon Dance into a new chapter of development and achievement.

Lynn Vardy, chairman of Swindon Dance, said “Marie McCluskey’s long and distinguished career in dance is nationally recognised. She has been an asset to not only dance in Swindon, but dance across the country.”

Swindon Dance has gained a national reputation as a leading centre of dance development and excellence from its base at the Old Town Hall in the town centre.

The organisation which has been supported for more than three decades by Swindon Borough Council. It was awarded National Dance Agency Status in 1991 by the Arts Council of England and is currently a National Portfolio Organisation of the Arts Council.

Since 2005 Swindon Dance has received support as a Centre of Advanced Training in Dance for exceptionally talented young dancers, through the Department for Education’s Music and Dance Scheme.