Step Into Dance is a programme where young people of all shapes, sizes, ability and traditions can showcase their dance. It’s now the biggest secondary school dance programme in the UK. The programme, created by the Royal Academy of Dance in partnership with the Jack Petchey Foundation, highlights the many talents of young people across London and Essex.
The first half of the event was called By Invitation which featured a six guest performances by some of the UK’s most eclectic dance institutions and youth companies. It was a pleasure to see all the different options for youth engagement in dance in terms of genre and form.
It opened, with an army of back bending warriors, in Marso Rivière’s first choreographic venture of the evening Behold. Marso’s contemporary and breakdance influence was interesting to see, enticing an exciting, creative and physical potentiality within these young people.
English National Youth Ballet illustrated the versatility of the young dancers, presenting a lyrism combined with a ridged technicality which was joyous to watch, especially from a professional dance stand point.
SLiDE (South London Inclusive Dance Experience) was a particular highlight for me. I think there needs to be more of conscious effort and focus on disabled and mixed ability theatre in general but especially from big institutions. I really believe the key to a sustainable and progressive evolution within the arts is to make it a more inclusive space. An incredible female dancer running through the ensemble with a purple flag (I’m a bit biased purple is my favourite colour!!!) instantly spread a tidal wave of joy that rippled through everybody in the audience. I was brought to tears.
Shift, the youth dance company at The Place, gave us emotive, embodied movement and explored the stage thoughtfully. They spiralled, they fell gracefully and flew into the future.
Boy Blue Youth Dance stole the show as usual (a true mirror of the adult company). The incredible dancers moved me, particularly in the Krump sections of the choreography. The execution of the visceral and complex choreography was performed with the precision of a geographical coördinate. They moved as one, solid unit.
Katie Cambridge’s Satellite was an ebullient end to the first half of the evening. The choreography was clean and detailed. I particularly enjoyed the choice of costume and how the young women worked together to create interesting pathways and shapes. A true ensemble to say the least.
The last piece was a 30-minute reimagining of the battle from The Nutcracker by Marso. Battling is a large part of hip hop culture, whether its MC’s channelling freestyled lyrics over an amazing beat or b‑boys and B‑girls (and other styles from the genre: Poppin’, Lockin’, Waacking, Krump etc.). It was a very clever way to educate an audience as well as the dancers participating about Hip Hop culture in order to put a contemporary spin on a famous Ballet story. The ability of the young people to successfully blend Hip Hop forms with contemporary dance, and still have a real sense of both genres as two separate entities, was more than impressive. It felt original even though the story is one I know very well. They were beyond their years in terms of technicality and professionalism. Marso did a fantastic job and worked with this large group of young professionals in a wonderful way.
Step Into Dance is an important programme that needs to be highlighted now more than ever, as less and less money is been given to the arts. If we provide the youth of today with the tools to create and perform, strong, intelligent, thriving creative adults can be the result.
To find out more visit www.stepintodance.org
Photography by Foteini Christofilopoulou
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