STEP1Step 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

Pho­to­graphy by Foteini Chris­to­filo­poulou


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Valerie Ebuwa

Valer­ie “wing girl” Ebuwa is a freel­ance dance artist and yoga teach­er from East Lon­don. She is cur­rently dan­cing for 3 con­tem­por­ary dance com­pan­ies and is one of the found­ing mem­bers of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.

About Valerie Ebuwa

Valerie "wing girl" Ebuwa is a freelance dance artist and yoga teacher from East London. She is currently dancing for 3 contemporary dance companies and is one of the founding members of Eclectics Dance and CEO of Hip Hop House.