Dance 491

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Issue 491 • Januar y – April 2021


Teaching all abilities JANUARY – APRIL 2021 ISSUE 491

Roswitha Wetschka’s perspective on teaching dancesport

Here I am, this is me

Layton Williams explains how diversity has inspired his career

Diploma in Dance Education Italia Conti Arts Centre is offering teacher training for full DDE qualifications in Ballet, Tap and Modern Dance Musical Theatre Acting

Members welcome Headquarters 22/26 Paul Street, London EC2A 4QE + 44 (0)20 7377 1577 Chair Chris Hocking Executive team Chief Executive Ginny Brown Director of Dance Liz Dale Director of Examinations Janne Karkkainen

“ We have seen first-hand the transformational power of dance”

Director of Membership and Communications Gemma Matthews Director of Education Louise Molton Director of Finance & Operations Keith Stephenson Advertise in Dance Magazine Email Tel + 44 (0)20 7377 1577 Next copy deadline: Issue 492 (May–Aug 2021): Monday 8 February 2021 Cover photograph: Roswitha Wetschka teaching an all-abilities dancesport class Photographer: Rachel Cherry Design by Membership and Communications Department Printed by Gemini Print Unit A1 Dolphin Way Shoreham by Sea West Sussex BN43 6NZ © 2021 Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exists to advance excellence in dance teaching and education. Company Limited by Guarantee. Registered No. 00392978 England. Registered Charity No. 250397

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of extraordinary change. The world rocked by a pandemic, then outraged by the horrific death of George Floyd, leading us to question whether we are doing enough to address racial inequality. We have taken time to reflect and consult with those who have experienced racial discrimination to better understand the barriers to accessing the Society. When injustice is spotlighted in one community, this leads us to recognise other areas of inequity. So we have tuned into frustrations expressed by other disadvantaged groups, who are hit particularly hard by COVID-19. Like all dance teachers, we have seen first-hand the transformational power of dance – its ability to unlock a child’s creative, expressive potential, to provide opportunities for embodied learning and to transcend social and cultural divides. At the Society we all share a passion for teaching dance. This edition includes some great examples of how our members adapt their practice to work with diverse groups. This gives us a solid base from which to build, but we must acknowledge that currently our organisation is neither representatively diverse nor inclusive. Without providing sustained opportunity to access dance classes, we can’t achieve our charitable purpose. So we are fully committed to working with you, our members, to ensure we achieve equity, diversity, and inclusion across all levels of the Society. This commitment has been exemplified by Sue Passmore, who concluded her term as Chair of Council in November 2020. During her tenure Sue has championed inclusive practice – curating events to share the work of varied artists, recruiting diverse perspectives onto our board of trustees, introducing bursary funds and instigating the contemporary dance syllabus. Her energy, enthusiasm and commitment to high quality dance training for all is infectious and I am hugely grateful for her support and wise guidance. I know that our incoming Chair, Chris Hocking, is equally committed to diversity in the dance sector and I am looking forward to working with Chris to maximize the future impact of the Society. The events of 2020 have challenged us all to question what the future holds – both for us as individuals and as a global community. My aim is to ensure that the Society not only survives this crisis, but that we come through it poised to make a significant contribution to children’s cultural education. As Sue says on page 19, it is up to each one of us to be the change we want to see in the world. Together we can work wholeheartedly to address barriers to access dance. I am confident that our teachers have an important role to play in the lives of future generations of children and young people. You are our ambassadors and we, as a Society, are here to support you every step of the way. Ginny Brown Chief Executive Dance | Issue 491

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News 04 Making dance inclusive for all News and examinations updates for members 18 Farewell to our outgoing Chair Upon completing her term of office Sue Passmore reminds us that we are all ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’ 20 Welcome to our new Chair An introduction from Chris Hocking, our newly elected Chair 32 What's in a name? We start to examine the history and origins of the Society's 117-year-old name

International update 33 Europe Carole Watson reports on Donna Selvaggia, a group of female dancers aged 17–45 34 North America Astrid Sherman shines a light on the work of Ballet Beyond Borders and speaks to Betty Alleyne about dance in Barbados 35 Asia Chua Zjen Fong spoke to Tadj, a 16-year-old Latin dancer of mixed Chinese and Indian heritage, from Kuala Lumpur 36 Australasia Jess Walker asked Elliot about their experience as a non-binary person 37 Africa and the Middle East Delia Sainsbury presents perspectives from the region


Focus on 40 Cecchetti Classical Ballet We introduce the newly elected committee, Yos Clark follows his dream in Ivory Coast and how ballet can help those living with mental health challenges 44 Classical Greek Dance Encouraging diversity at Dupont Dance Stage School in Leicester and a look at how Ruby Ginner’s classical Greek dance is helpful for creating equal opportunities 46 Classical Indian Dance More and more candidates are taking part in Kathak in Bangalore, Dubai and Zurich 50 Contemporary Dance Four contemporary dancers give their inspiring perspectives on the range of opportunity within the contemporary dance sector 54 Disco, Freestyle, Rock n’ Roll and Street How to include dancers with additional needs in class, a Rock n Roll examinations update and Ernestine Ndzi reflects on her family’s positive experience of local dancesport classes

Dance for life Carole Edrich highlights the value of dance for older people

58 Imperial Classical Ballet Making ballet meaningful for students in Bangalore, perspectives on teaching dancers with disabilities, and Lana Williams gives her perspective as a woman of colour 62 Latin American and Modern Ballroom Pete Meager looks at ‘equality dancing,’ Roswitha Wetschka shares advice on teaching Latin and ballroom to an all-abilities class, and Emma Millward introduces Para Dance Sport 68 Modern Theatre Making dance accessible for all in Singapore, and Sarah Lambert reports from her dance community in Trinidad and Tobago



72 National Dance Teaching national dance in Japan, and Tanya Allen finds that world culture and traditions are alive today 74 Sequence Dance Get to know your newly elected committee 76 Tap Dance Tap dance in the community, and a look at the multicultural origins of the genre

Interview 10 Layton Williams Lisa Harrison-Jones caught up with singer, dancer and actor Layton Williams

What's on 80 Highlights Updates on current events and what’s on in the industry, followed by a look at what’s trending online

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Issue 491 | January – April 2021



Women leading the way

Communication to support inclusive dance

Dance artist and writer Rachel Elderkin looks at ways to support the leadership development of women in dance

Juliet Diener and members of the icandance community share their thoughts on communication to foster inclusion


Entitled to dance Karen Berry, founder of Danscentre, examines the secrets of the centre’s success in attracting boys into dance Dance | Issue 491

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Making Dance inclusive for all Now more than ever as an organisation, it is time to address some important questions. Are we open to everyone who wants to learn dance? Do we genuinely provide equal opportunities? What are the barriers for some people that get in the way of accessing dance and benefitting from what we have to offer? We will explore the answers to these questions further in this issue, with some inclusive features written by some of our valuable contributors, including trustees, patrons, and alumni members on equality, diversity, and inclusion. Important related conversations were had during our first-ever digital Teachers Summer School last year. ‘Members Monday’ was a day full of free discussion forums, and insightful questions, with nearly 300 members tuning in remotely to learn about how the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing can progress in our aspirations to be inclusive in the work that we do. Hosted by Chief Executive Ginny Brown, Ginny started the day by acknowledging that “although the organisation’s heritage is rich, with its high quality of syllabus and versatile training methods, there are other areas where we need to challenge ourselves”. We went on to explore how we and our members could open our doors and ensure that all learners, regardless of their ability or disability, background, or experience, could feel welcome in dance. An impactful panel discussion with patrons and trustees Linda Jasper, Shobana Jeyasingh CBE, Keith-Derrick Randolph, and Sho Shibata asked “What does inclusivity mean to us and how can we broaden access to dance?” and offered useful insight on the subjects of equality, diversity, and inclusion. Patron Linda Jasper MBE discussed the importance of dance, the barriers that prevent people from participating, and which need to be addressed to allow everyone to benefit from dance education: 4

Sho Shibata, fellow Patron, “Of course, there are physical and Executive Producer at Stopgap barriers that we do not have much commented: “It’s not enough to say your control over in these uncertain times of doors are open, it’s important to actively Coronavirus. But when we are able, as go out and engage with people. Engaging dancers, to return to a studio of some in meaningful conversation with people description, there are more complex you haven’t connected with before can and important cultural barriers. lead to surprises and some nervousness “How do we make people feel that – and this diagram of learning can be they belong to what we are offering? applied to many audience groups.” There might be a dance form for Sho went on to discuss the important everyone, but how do we dispel myths diagram below that is a useful aid when about who can dance what forms of it comes to the crucial learning process of dance, and where? Whether you’re male, implementing being both anti-racist and a person of colour, a disabled person, or inclusive in our work. you’re from a different socio-economic background, these factors can all potentially create barriers identifyhow howI Imay may to participation.” I Iidentify unknowinglybenefit benefit unknowingly fromracism racism from

I promote & advocate for policies & leaders that are anti-racist

I recognise racism is a present & current problem

I seek out questions that make me uncomfortable

I deny racism is a problem

I understand my own privilege in ignoring racism

I avoid hard questions

Becoming anti-racist

Fear zone

Learning zone I educate myself about race & structural racism

I strive to be comfortable I talk to others who look & think like me

I suppress my own unconscious bias

I am vulnerable about my own biases & knowledge gaps

I listen to others who think & look different from me

I speak out when I see racism in action

Growth zone I educate my peers how racism harms our profession

I don't let mistakes deter me from being better

I yield positions of power to those otherwise marginalized

I surround myself with others who think & look different from me

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We’re making changes to membership

Sho continued: “This learning experience is not always a comfortable one, especially if challenging your own preconceptions. But the uncomfortable period will pass, and it will give you a much wider scope and horizon to engage and work with more people.” Economic issues, location, access to space and activity, ability, and cultural perception are just some of the factors that prevent people from participating in dance classes. At the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, we are always open to listening, learning, and conversing on these vital cultural issues. We are all fortunate to share a common belief in the value of dance education, and we are all united with the passion for broadening access to dance; it is a driving force for our work as an organisation and we hope that this issue of Dance magazine reflects this. If you would like a recap of our Members’ Day session, you can find it online in the members’ area of the website. Above

Daisy Nash and Katie Stevens at the 2019 Para Dance Sport National Championships. They received Gold medals for first place in Freestyle Class 2 Combi


This graphic is not only a visual aid for how we can work towards being anti-racist, but useful in terms of following the same process when thinking inclusively. What the graphic makes clear is that staying in our comfort zones won’t make change happen. We need to be open and honest in our bid to making dance education accessible for all. (It was adapted by Andrew M. Ibrahim MD, MSc from “Who do I want to be during COVID-19?” chart (original author unknown) with ideas drawn from Ibram X. Kendi’s work.) – Read this article for more information

Membership year A new year brings with it some changes to your Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing membership. From 2021 our new membership year will run from 1 April. No alarm bells necessary – this won’t affect your current membership. Current members will have their memberships extended for free, with renewal reminders issued in late February. Those who want to get their new year off to a fresh start can join in January to make the most of 15 months for the price of 12. Grades and pricing We want to support your teaching journey, providing you with the right membership, benefits and training at each point in your career. To do this, we have made some changes to the membership grades and pricing. With these changes in place, we will be developing the benefits packages over the coming months, but our priority will be to a commitment to raising standards and the mark of quality – providing our members with the tools and resources to help you navigate compliance and safeguarding best practice and attract new students. International and student members As we continue to ensure our rates are fair to everybody, we’re reducing membership fees for our international members – including members located in the EU. Paper editions of our Dance magazine will be replaced with a digital version of the magazine for international and student members. We hope our international members will take the

opportunity to promote membership to their peers, introducing them to the organisation via the online CPD courses – which have been popular to members across the globe. UK membership fees in 2021 UK membership fees in 2021 will be increasing by 0.7%. Changes to membership criteria From April 2021, only Full teaching members will be entitled to submit students into our examinations. This means we will be making some changes to the entry criteria for both Full and Affiliate membership. Full Membership will be available to teachers over 18 years old who hold one of the following: DDE, Certificate in Dance Education (CDE), the Associate, the Associate Diploma or above. It will also be available to qualified teachers who are actively teaching dance and entering students into exams from approved organisations, such as the RAD and IDTA, and have appropriate Ofqual regulated qualifications from CDMT regulated awarding bodies or equivalent international training. The Affiliate membership criteria will be changing. Current Affiliate members with appropriate qualifications will be able to become Full teaching members. Members who meet this criteria will be contacted by the Membership team. Affiliate membership will be opened to a wider audience of experienced dance teachers but members will no longer be able to enter candidates into exams. Affiliates will continue to benefit from our guidance, support and training. For more information on changing membership rates, please visit

Thinking only pink? Students should be encouraged to wear tights/socks and shoes to match their skin colour wherever possible and dance school uniform policies should reflect this. Many specialist dancewear manufacturers produce ballet wear in a range of skin tones. The greater the demand for these products, the more widely available the ranges will be for everyone to access and truly feel that ballet is for all. Uniform requirements for Cecchetti Classical Ballet and Imperial Classical Ballet Ballet students specify that socks/tights/ballet shoes can be in any skin tone or pink and with matching shoes. Check out these suppliers: Freed of London BLOCH

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Above, top and bottom right

CGI* of external view of Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing building (top) showing new position of main entrance. Top right photo shows retractable ramp deployed for improved wheelchair access. Bottom right shows *CGI of main reception area.

*CGI images give a good indication of structure of building but furniture details may differ. There are no suspended ceilings on floors occupied by ISTD

Paul Street HQ building refurbishment The year 2020 was full of adjustment. From shifting our entire syllabus to a digital space, to the majority of our members and staff working remotely, the Society has certainly not been immune to that change. Our Paul Street headquarters has also undergone a big change during the past few months. It was in need of investment to make essential improvements to preserve the value of this key asset for the Society. It had become urgent to bring the building up to current health and safety requirements, particularly important as we navigate the pandemic. As well as 6

having a much more energy-efficient building due to a total overhaul of electrical systems, the space is now fitted with a new air conditioning system. Our headquarters is now more accessible, with a new ramp having been fitted to the front entrance that allows all visitors to come in from what was the original building entry point. We’ve also introduced accessible bathroom and shower facilities. The revamp has maximised use of space in the building with flexible learning areas and allows the Society to generate rental income from the top two floors, which will fund bursaries.

There is also a new members area, providing a London base to visit once we’re able to do such things again. We’re sure you will be as happy as we are with our new spaces and look forward to being able to welcome you as soon as it is safe to do so. David Evans, Director of Project Management at ERA, the company responsible for the project, says: “I think the transformation of the building and space speaks for itself. It’s not often that you get to experience such visual rewards and see a demonstration of real change. We just need the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing members and staff to bring the building to life!”

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Accommodation Schedule 10 5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 -

Hot Disk Breakout Area Prayer Room Luggage Store & General Storage Comms Room Bike Store Cleaner Store Shower Accessible WC WC Staff Kitchen Copy/Print Area --


Total Working Positions



2,378 sqft Total Area







Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Address

Imperial House, 22-26 Paul Street Shoreditch, London EC2A 4QE Project Number





01 B


Drawing Title

Technical Produced by




Amended date






The Harlequin Building 65 Southwark Street London SE1 0HR


020 7902 1750

CGI* of lower ground staff and members area

hout the express permission of MARIS INTERIORS LLP. Electronic copies of this drawing are supplied for convenience only. No dimensions or other information should be ny scaling of the drawing will be at the Contractor's risk. Contractor to verify all dimensions, levels, and components on-site. Any discrepancies shall be addressed in writing to associated cost. Any claims for variations or extras shall be submitted to this office for assessment prior to approval of any such variation or extra. This drawing is to be read in s taken from as built drawings provided. Check survey undertaken only, subject to statutory approval. All dimensions shown are in millimetres unless otherwise shown.

Centre left

Lower ground staff and members area floor plan

Centre right

Sprung floor dance room on first floor for Education and Training Directorate


CGI* of second floor office space Dance | Issue 491

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Right Our first ever contemporary dance exams to take place in Canada. At the end of November, Denise Fung of the Contemporary School of Dance in Ontario entered candidates for their Intermediate Foundation in contemporary dance.

A round-up of our latest examinations news and features

Appointment of lead examining teams In January 2021 we will begin our annual Examiner Training Programme. Commencing with the Modern and Tap faculties, this will be a historic moment as we take the standardisation process online for the very first time. Much preparation work has been happening behind the scenes in recent weeks, and we are now very much looking forward to bringing this to new initiative to fruition. To better facilitate the process, we have been appointing examiner colleagues to lead examining teams who will collectively take responsibility for leading and delivering the training, monitoring the effectiveness of the standardisation and marking processes, safeguarding standards over time and providing consistent support, advice and guidance mechanisms for our examiners. Further lead examining team appointments and examiner training in other genres will continue throughout 2021. Beyond the online standardisation we will be working with the lead examiner teams to facilitate a number of other initiatives all designed to improve the support we can give to our incredibly hard-working examiners, who have shown themselves to be infinitely adaptable during the challenges of the past year. Liz Dale, Director of Dance


Gender in dance Jessica Allen, diversity consultant and former professional dancer, gives her perspective With important conversations around transgender people sparking up all over the world, the inclusion of trans identities in everyday life has become an urgent talking point. Over the past decade, the microphone has slowly been turning towards the performing arts, as a community, to speak up about just how we intend to make space for trans individuals. How can we include this ever-marginalised group in performing and creating? As a former professional dancer turned teacher and trans advocate, I’ve certainly encountered pushback. The pushback against trans people in dance often comes in two distinct topics: the topics of tradition and physicality. The idea that trans people didn’t exist in the past, so they can’t possibly be a part of any past narratives, and the argument that trans people’s bodies don’t adhere to the standards that the dance world has deemed ‘aesthetically pleasing.’ Dance has its roots firmly in tradition. When we think of the origins of classical ballet, for example, we tend to imagine French aristocrats, led by Catherine de’ Medici, sculpting the art form from 16th-century Italian dance

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As a Society we are committed to promoting an environment where all individuals are encouraged to achieve their full potential and develop their skills

styles, but why do we stop our history lesson there? As long as there have been humans, there has been dancing, but transgender people are a ‘trendy new thing’? Wrong. In ancient cultures, transgender identities have always been present. In 2018, archaeologists discovered 3000year old remains from iron-age Persia, with further studies proving that these remains were of what we now call transgender people. A huge 20% of the graves discovered there contained someone whose gender identity was outside the rigid binary gender system which is common place in the west today. Transgender people have not only been present throughout history, but fluid gender-roles and expressions are shown here to be incredibly common. Indigenous tribes in (what we now call) America and Canada have been widely documented to have had a third gender role for millennia. Today it’s commonly called ‘two-spirit.’ These people were of huge social and ceremonial importance, as is common with transgender people in many ancient cultures. Of course, ancient ceremonial practices often involve dance for ritualistic purposes as well as story-telling. This argument is the more troubling. It illustrates the gatekeeping that a lot of dancers and dance educators seem to genuinely, and sadly, be proud of. The idea that something needs to be ‘exclusive’ and ‘elite’ in order to be respected is misguided, and has a vivid history of racism, ableism and body-shaming. At the most fundamental level, dance is storytelling. The entire medium revolves around communicating emotions or information with an audience. These are things that

don’t require banana feet, 0% body fat or, least of all, genitals. Not every dancer has to be “ideally built” to be an incredible artist. So, what’s the answer? In my opinion, as a transgender dancer, it comes down to communication and options. We need to detach dance-dynamics from gender. The classical Greek syllabus model that uses the ‘Athletic’ label and the ‘Lyrical’ label, is a great example. It’s especially fitting as transgender people appear so frequently in ancient Greek culture (Aphrodite herself, arguably the most beautiful and iconic woman in mythology, is often depicted with a penis!). We then need to open up communication with learners from day one and ask them about the dynamics of dance they wish to explore. Not only does this give young dancers every opportunity to express themselves authentically, but it creates more knowledgeable dancers too. More rounded dance education is never a bad thing. Broadening the ways we communicate as dancers is never a bad thing. Creating more educated audiences? Never a bad thing. We owe it not just to transgender dancers but to cisgender artists too, to make this inclusive step a freeing one. After all, why put restrictions on expression?

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Here I am, this is me Lisa HarrisonJones Head of Faculty Development for Modern Theatre and Classical Indian

Mould-breaking Layton Williams explains to Lisa Harrison Jones how diversity has inspired and influenced his career

When did you first fall in love with dance? I guess it started naturally when I was younger watching and dancing to the Spice Girls and MTV and then making up shows to entertain my family. My cousin would visit after dance class every Thursday afternoon and I was a little jealous about this, so I asked my mum to put me into a local dance school and that is when I went to Carol Godby’s Theatre Workshop in Bury and within the year I’d answered an advert in the local paper that my mum had seen for Billy Elliot auditions and so thought ‘why not’ and joined the auditions with over 4000 boys, and everything happened from there!

Who were your role models when you were growing up?

Right Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man

Growing up I came from a small council estate in Manchester so I didn’t know what it was to be a dancer or know much about being in the West End and I’d never seen a West End show so I didn’t have role models as such. When I started at Billy I was thrown into West End life which was all very new but I just ‘got on with it’. We used to go and see Wicked in our breaks, and when mum visited, we’d go again to see Wicked, so this show was an inspiration for me growing up. I’ve not been in the show, but I did perform one of the songs for my singing assessments at Italia Conti Academy giving it my best Fiyero!

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What were your memories of your Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exam classes and your experience of working with the Society’s syllabus? At Billy they trained us very well to perform the show and do all the turns, backflips, and kicks in the choreography, but I didn’t always understand the steps or what they were called. Once I was at Italia Conti, I was in all of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exam classes. I remember the exams so well with the bell ringing and being so nervous as I wanted to do well (distinctions for everything). I also entered the Imperial Ballet Awards, which was a great accomplishment as I didn’t see myself as a ‘ballet boy’. I loved the aspect of the learning within the Society’s syllabus and working my way up through the grades. I’m very thankful for my time at Conti’s as it solidified and honed what I knew and nurtured everything in order for me to grow in confidence.

Have you experienced major challenges in your career? If so, how did you overcome these?

Above In 2019 Layton landed the lead role Jamie, in the hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre, West End

After classes at home, you came to Sylvia Young and then moved on to Italia Conti Academy. How did you find the transition to more formal training in London? While I was at Billy, I lived with the other dancers from the show. I loved the fact I could mix with such diverse people and gain inspiration from my best friends. They were all training at Sylvia Young Theatre School or Italia Conti, and I wanted to dance and train like them. While I was at Sylvia Young I could attend school classes and still perform in Billy, though it wasn’t until I went to Italia Conti that my formal training started.

I remember being in pantomime and I had an email from my agent that Matthew Bourne wanted me to be in The Car Man and I was “shook”. Although I saw myself as a dancer, I didn’t see myself as a classical dancer at all, as I have flat feet and not much turnout so I felt in the past that I had to “Fake it, till I made it”. Getting the chance to perform in Bourne’s company was a massive challenge for me, as Bourne is one of the biggest choreographers in the world. I felt a lot of pressure to fit in with this type of classical and contemporary company. It’s such a diverse company but it showed that I can do this style and fit it, just as I am. It was clear that Bourne wanted me to be who I was and didn’t want me to change. This made me accept that ,“here I am, this is me and I am good enough”. So, this was empowering, and I loved the experience. The first couple of years out of college was challenging as well, as I was suddenly in shows with performers who were just as talented or even more talented than me so I used this as inspiration to grow and develop rather than a negative.

In relation to Black Lives Matter (BLM), what can be done to help change and educate people? How does being in a creative industry help? The Black Lives Matter movement has been amazing, as it has started conversations about colour that are so important. I personally haven’t had issues of

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The Black Lives Matter movement has started conversations about colour that are so important discrimination in my training and in my career, but I appreciate and understand this is not everyone’s experience. When I started my career I broke the mould in my first job and so from this I always had a quiet confidence, that if I worked hard and believed in myself that the producers would see this rather than the colour of my skin and if I was right for the part I’d be cast. For many of the auditions when I was younger, I’d see the same black dancers going for the same parts, but this is changing. When we had the Jamie auditions for the new cast, there was such a variety of boys in the audition line-up that I’d not seen before, with all colours of skin, showing such diversity and that times are moving on.

You have been cast in so many fabulous and diverse shows, what would you say was your most significant accomplishment to date? This is so hard to look back and choose one show or one accomplishment, but I can never not appreciate what Billy did to bring me into this industry. But to see my face up on billboards for Jamie on Shaftesbury Avenue was amazing and unforgettable and I could retire tomorrow knowing I was lucky enough to have this, as one day it will be gone.


Layton Williams Fact File Layton Williams is an English actor, singer, and dancer, best known for playing Stephen in the television series Bad

With the postponement of this year’s tour of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, what are your plans and what are your steps to stay positive and inspired in this ‘new normal’? At the moment it is a waiting game, like so many other shows, and we are hoping that we can get back into the theatre with social distancing soon. I’ve also been involved with a concert version of Hair and have filming coming up, which is very exciting. I have also been travelling across the UK with my Pros from the Shows workshops. This teaching is my inspiration, seeing their excited faces and their passion and want for the industry, this is what keeps me going and staying positive.

Lastly, is there any advice for aspiring dancers and performers through the pandemic? I would say that this a passing moment and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. To any students and graduates out there, be patient, keep inspired, take classes, online or in studio, listen to your teachers and take in as many experiences as possible!

Education and for being the first black dancer cast as Billy in Billy Elliot in the West End at the tender age of 12 in 2007. Layton is still the second-longest running performer as Billy in the show’s history. Layton was born in Bury and studied at Carol Godby’s Theatre Workshop in ballet at Centre Pointe, in Manchester. After winning a scholarship to Sylvia Young Theatre School he then moved to Italia Conti where Layton’s talent for performing arts was developed and his dance training (including Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exams and events) continued in earnest, all of which was documented in the CBBC documentary, School for Stars. After graduation from Conti’s, he toured with Matthew Bourne’s The Car Man and then onto the part of Duane/ Seaweed in Hairspray the Musical UK

tour and Paul in Kiss Me Kate at Sheffield Crucible. Layton followed this casting with Angel in the 20th anniversary UK and concert tour of Rent, to rave reviews. In 2019 Layton landed the lead role Jamie, in the hit musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Apollo Theatre, West End and will soon be joining the UK tour which will start in 2021. Alongside his performance work Layton is also Director of Pros from the Shows, which is a touring masterclass company delivering workshops in dance, singing and acting across the UK. Layton is an active member of the LGBTQI+ community and supports the charities Stonewall and Ditch and recently won the LGBTQI+ Champion Award from the Black Theatre Awards.

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Women leading the way Dance artist and writer, Rachel Elderkin, looks at ways to support the leadership development of women in dance

I Rachel Elderkin Dance artist, writer, dramaturg and podcast host Rachel trained in Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Modern and Tap.

n recent years, there has been much discussion over the lack of visibility for female choreographers in dance. Flight Pattern by Crystal Pite (2017) marked the first female commission for the main stage at The Royal Ballet in 18 years, while only 5 of Sadler’s Wells 16 associate artists are currently women. Given the amount of women that enter a career in dance compared to men, that disparity presents a stark reflection of our wider society. “It’s not only about having more women, but about the type of leadership we’re promoting in the dance sector” believes Avatâra Ayuso; dancer, choreographer and founder of AWA Dance, a charity dedicated to the leadership development of women and girls. As Avatâra points out leadership takes many forms, but “we’re stuck in this outdated, patriarchal view of what leadership is”. From her experience working with women and girls through AWA Dance (, Avatâra has found that many have difficulty seeing themselves as leaders in this traditional sense. So how can the dance sector support more women to envisage themselves in leadership roles, in choreography and beyond? For Jessica Wheeler, current Principal at Elmhurst Ballet School (who did ISTD ballet as a child at the June Glennie School of Dance in Beccles, Suffolk) being around other women in leadership positions offered her encouragement and inspiration. “When I first started teaching I remember idolising one of the heads of years” says Jessica. “She had these amazing qualities – the way she led, managed and

interacted with people. A lot of the ways she worked with me in my twenties, remain ways I work now”. Sophie Laplane, who danced with Scottish Ballet for 13 years before becoming the company’s Choreographer in Residence in 2017, remembers a similar experience. “There were several women choreographers who came to work with Scottish Ballet when I was a dancer there, notably Helen Pickett, Annabelle Ochoa and Crystal Pite. They all communicated their vision so powerfully and confidently they were a real inspiration for me – so much so that it never occurred to me that being a female rather than a male choreographer might be different!” Chrissie Cartwright, director, choreographer and former dancer, also recalls the influence of working alongside Gillian Lynne on Cats. “When Gillian started she was in a man’s world – she had to fight to be seen and heard as a female choreographer. Now there are many opportunities for women in this area, but I saw her stand her ground many times”. Seeing someone you relate to in a role you aspire to can, undoubtedly, have a lasting impact. As Emma Gladstone, former Artistic Director and Chief Executive of London’s Dance Umbrella Festival notes, “your career is linked to the people you meet and who excite you along the way”. However, the right support, encouragement, and development opportunities are also vital. IAN WHALEN

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Left Avatâra Ayuso

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We’re stuck in this outdated, patriarchal view of what leadership is DANIEL MINGUEZ

Far left Avatâra Ayuso was a workshop leader for the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing at our 2015 Springboard event, held in London. Left Chrissie Cartwright trained in all dance subjects through the grades and then dance teaching qualifications with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, including ballet, tap, modern, national and Greek dance.

In her transition from dancer to choreographer, Chrissie cites the support of those she initially assisted, Charles Augins and Anthony Van Laast, as key. “Anthony was the main choreographer on a TV show. He’d ask me to choreograph and was instrumental in allowing me to move into that area. There’s not much there to support you other than the people you assist. That’s where the inspiration comes from”. Sophie has felt similarly supported by those around her. “From a fairly young age I was encouraged by Christine Gerard, a French choreographer who led choreographic workshops at the Conservatoire de Paris where I trained. Then in Scottish Ballet, Christopher Hampson gave me a lot of support, encouragement and mentoring as I evolved in my work.” The value of support and encouragement is clear but being able to see a future in your career is equally important. As Sophie says, “women are faced with biological questions about their work-life balance in a way that men are not”, and in this respect, the dance world still has much to address.

OU R SOCI E T Y H A S B E E N B U I LT O N G E N E R AT I O NS O F FE M A LE LE A DE RS A N D B US I N E SS OWN E RS A few of our inspirational members share their wisdom: “I would like to mention our exartistic director Paddy Hurlings whose observant, composed and elegant personality inspired me hugely. As the Chair of the Theatre Faculties Board she listened to others but also spoke with authority and led the way with clear vision.” Sujata Banerjee MBE, ISTD Senior Examiner “Success is a journey not a destination” Helen Green, ISTD Senior Examiner “Women who have inspired me are Muriel Ashcroft, Doreen Bird, Jill Knight and Daphne Peterson to name but a few. My words of advice would be, believe in what you do.” Karen King, FISTD, ISTD Teacher and Trustee

“My advice to female members about how to lead the way would be primarily to identify what your strengths are and to focus on amplifying those qualities. No one can be good at everything. I wasn’t born knowing that, but rather had to learn it along the way – wisdom with age and experience!” Nina Rajarani MBE, ISTD Senior Examiner “Never lose sight of what has inspired you and try to ignite the same passion in others. Share your knowledge and recognise people’s achievements. Remember, enthusiasm is contagious!” Tereza Theodoulou, ISTD Senior Examiner and Theatre Faculties’ International Ambassador Visit to read a full article by Tereza Theodoulou about being a female leader in dance, packed with top tips and helpful advice.

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At Elmhurst, Jessica has recently brought in a written policy on the menopause to encourage an open dialogue and offer support to female staff. She also believes that the support she experienced from Elmhurst during her maternity leave (Jessica is a single mother of two children) was strengthened by the fact that the school’s board, at that time, was led by a woman. It is not to say that only women will implement such policies, but often it takes an understanding of how certain experiences – especially those biologically specific to women – affect work and lives for the necessary changes to happen. To effectively support women’s leadership development, it is essential that across the dance sector there is provision for women to have longevity in their careers. Similarly, as Emma recognises, we must consider how women might access leadership development opportunities. “It’s all a pipeline” says Emma. “How can we help dancers, those who know the sector from the inside, consider themselves within these roles?” It’s a pertinent question and one which perhaps returns to Avatâra’s thoughts on how we promote leadership in the dance sector. “Dance provides a

lot of tools for leadership development, but often it’s seen simply as an artistic expression” says Avatâra. “However, I’ve realised the type of leader I am has been completely informed by my understanding of dance and the value that has beyond itself”. The list of attributes that dance lends to leadership is endless. To name a few, dancers are used to finding creative solutions, to selfmanagement, at listening to and working with others. “We need to empower those skills in a more relevant way for the 21st century” says Avatâra. “Dance teaches us that leadership starts within ourselves – it’s a personal practice that then connects with and impacts others.” The idea of encouraging leadership both from within the dance sector and within ourselves is an empowering concept. The visibility of women in leadership roles, support, mentoring and ensuring the longevity of women’s careers in the dance sector, all remains central to believing those aspirations can be achieved. However, encouraging women throughout their careers to recognise the value of the skills they have is potentially a very powerful way to shift perspective – from the inside out.

NEW for 2021 Online courses for dance teachers focused on business development. Running from January till 20 May. Dance Business Coach, Deborah Laws explores how we can support dance teachers in growing and evolving their businesses. Visit

Below Sophie Laplane

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A fond farewell from Sue Passmore Upon completing her term of office our outgoing Chair reminds us that we are all ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’

Sue Passmore Outgoing Chair


n focusing on the career pathways of Society alumni I am always in awe of the development and additional skills that I have been fortunate enough to encounter for more than 50 years. It is a privilege to acknowledge creative talent and to see the originality of thought and process. Teaching dance is a way of life. Students rarely forget the teacher who inspired them as a child, respecting what is fundamental for lifelong learning in the dance arts. Looking back at my own journey, I met Joyce Percy in 1971 when I joined the Bush Davies schools as Artistic Director. Her wisdom and guidance have always underpinned my judgement of quality in dance, in all its diversity. In my long relationship with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing I have never doubted the quality of the work handed down by remarkable faculty professionals. I was first introduced to Bush Davies school by Melanie Parr, when I was playing Liesl in The Sound of Music at the Palace Theatre in London in 1962. The result – 17 years as Artistic Director of the school, nurtured and inspired by the wisdom and talent of Joyce Percy, Daphne Peterson and a faculty of remarkable teachers and examiners. The Adeline Genée Theatre was in the grounds of this remarkable school and I was responsible

From a card I received from a past student: “Those who say it cannot be done... should not interrupt the person doing it.”

for producing and directing more than 200 ballet performances, musicals and plays in the 1980s. The talent and technical brilliance that was nurtured and celebrated in this period of my career was extraordinary and only possible because of the opportunity and support of Paul Kim. In 1988 I joined the inimitable Doreen Bird as Artistic Director of her college. She was a lady whose work ethic inspired and taught me so much about sound judgement and tenacity. We worked collaboratively and shared a vision. The alumni have built extraordinarily diverse and successful careers as registered Society teachers, dancers, examiners, producers and principals of their own schools. Her legacy enabled a pathway for me that went from being Principal and CEO of the highly respected Bird College, to introducing a degree and continuing to offer Society teaching qualifications. I have served on the Society's board of trustees for more than twenty years, but it is in the last five years as Chair of the Society that I have been able to promote and encourage new visions and structural change. In completing my term of office, I have confidence that the board will continue to thrive in the safe hands of Chris Hocking. Chris and I have worked together for several years, most recently as joint external examiners for the Institute of the Arts Barcelona (IAB), but also when I was a consultant and assessor for the Dance and Drama Award (DaDA) Trinity and the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre (CDMT).

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Chris invited me to act as an adjudicator for the All England Dance competition, which was a most enjoyable learning curve. He values quality assurance and artistic focus and will pull and push as necessary. To summarise, I am so relieved that age is just a number. The Society is evidence of this. Our strength is in the diversity of age and experience that we have from every aspect of professional delivery of our qualifications. I’ll end on a quote: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” A sample of the thanks passed on for Sue from trustees, colleagues and students:

Thank you so much for your tireless work over many years at the Society. Sho Shibata, Trustee

I really admire the way that Sue champions other people and the Society and I have seen the way that she has changed the organisation root and branch. The Society will always be a better place because of her influence.

Top One of the Society's brand photographs for the Modern Theatre Faculty. Above A scan of one of a series of inspirational postcards from Sue's time at Bird College, each with an inspirational message. This one was: "Discover new heights."

Above This 'birthday' picture was taken in 1990 on tour in Portugal with the Bird Theatre Company, which worked with young dancers attending Anna Mangerico's school in Cascais, sharing choreography and performing with them.

Frederick Way, Vice Chair of Trustees Dance | Issue 491 19

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Chris Hocking An introduction from our newly elected Chair


am so honoured to take over as Chair of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. It is a wonderful and respected organisation throughout the world, but as for everybody and every organisation we find ourselves in a position that we never expected. Sue Passmore is quite honestly a living legend! Her contribution to dance, it’s development in all genres coupled with her commitment to quality, outreach and zest for life make succeeding Sue as Chair, a tough act to follow. Thank you Sue, the Society will be forever grateful for your exemplary service. Our membership faces almost existential challenges. Will my school survive? Will people want to go to see live performances? Will people

want to dance again? This is where a society of teacher membership must support, guide and lead to ensure that peoples livelihoods, well-being and quality of lives can return to as near ‘normal’ as possible. I am confident that we are close to turning a corner in dealing with this global pandemic in which every member of the Society has been affected. Us dance folk do have an inherent resilience and that is why dance and performing arts will survive this pandemic and hopefully we will be able to come back stronger, more focused, more determined and more creative. Dance teachers are such an inspiration to so many people and have a hugely influential role in the people that we become. My first ballet teacher, Pamela Sheen, was a kind and warm

I am so honoured to take over as Chair of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing

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Dance and performing arts will survive this pandemic teacher who really cared about port de bras. Nesta Brooking used her strong will to almost demand that we fulfilled her vision of our ability and this really embedded my determination and resilience. Michael Holmes’ knowledge and detail of technique was awe-inspiring especially as he rarely got out of his chair due to a severe back injury. Robert Harrold, had the most wonderful sense of humour coupled with an infectious passion for all national dances. I still remember, and hopefully can still do the Mexican Hat Dance and Serbian Selyanchitsa! However, the most inspirational teachers in my life are actually the students that I have taught – I have learned more about teaching, technique, communication, clarity and about myself from working with and training students at ArtsEd and other institutions than I ever could have imagined. Everyone we teach (and who teaches us) has different needs, hopes, fears and anxieties and all at different times, which is why teaching is a vocation within a vocation! Now more than ever, we need outstanding, dedicated, knowledgeable, empathetic and diverse teachers. I truly believe that the Society with its managers, faculties, membership and trustees is the organisation to support these outstanding teachers in order to respond to the challenges of supporting the well-being and mental health of all who take part in dance.

Top Chris Hocking training at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet in 1984 Above The late Robert Harrold who, “had the most wonderful sense of humour coupled with an infectious passion for all national dances”

Chris trained at the Nesta Brooking School of Ballet where he studied Cecchetti ballet and national dance with Robert Harold. He then went on to a very successful performing career in the West End, on tour and in regional repertory theatre. Shows include Chicago, Carousel, The King and I, The Rocky Horror Show, Chess, Hot Stuff, On the Town, Barnum and Hello, Dolly! He has choreographed the UK tours of Oklahoma!, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof, the British premiere of Jekyll and Hyde, The Railway Children, Wind in the Willows and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. Other credits include Club Tropicana - the 80s musical (which he co-wrote) at the Menier Chocolate Factory, Schwartz Stories at The King’s Head, Let Him Have Justice (Cochrane Theatre), Keeler (Charing Cross Theatre). Chris has been awarded the Fellowship of the British and International Federation of Festivals and is Chair of All England Dance as well as Head Judge for Dance World Cup. He has directed and choreographed numerous pantomimes around the country and has been awarded an MA in Choreography from Middlesex University. Chris is Principal of ArtsEd and CEO of ArtsEd International and is honoured to be appointed Chair of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. CH R I S SAYS “In my journey from a young boy taking Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing primary tap, through to a teenager passing the Society’s Cecchetti Associate exam with distinction, I now have the honour to be the Principal at ArtsEd, one the UK’s oldest and most well-known performing arts institutes. “I have dedicated my life and career to dance and its associated genres by performing in West End shows, teaching in vocational dance, musical theatre and drama schools, choreographing major productions, adjudicating dance festivals around the world, increasing representation in dance for people from diverse backgrounds and being involved in charitable activities for the world of dance. “I relish the prospect and honour of being Chair of the Society in this challenging and thought-provoking time. As Benjamin Franklin said, out of adversity comes opportunity.”

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Communication to support inclusive dance Juliet Diener and members of the icandance community share their thoughts on communication to foster inclusion

Juliet Diener Founder and CEO of icandance

i icandance, is a London based charity that offers a creative, therapeutic dance community for children and young people with disabilities and their families. Visit icandance. to find out more.

When we think about communication, we often refer to language or our speech. Communication is not only about what we say but how we say it, why we say it and what our body ‘says’. When creating an inclusive dance community, communication is key to supporting the dancer with additional needs in feeling understood, heard, and accepted. This is needed before dancing has even begun. Communication can either enrich the inclusive dance space or create a barrier. At icandance we use a variety of approaches to better support the disabled dancer. I asked various members of our diverse community to share their ideas, from a lived experience, on best practice when communicating to dancers with a variety of needs. Read their suggestions on these pages. It is evident that communication is much more than what we say and more about how we listen, how we observe and then how we respond to each dancers’ need. Communication has a huge impact on how a dancer feels and how we encourage belonging regardless of difference. “Speak like you would to any other dancer but keep in mind their needs. Be patient. Be careful not to offend or hurt them with the words you choose. Be mindful of the words you use,” says Cydney, age 16, who is an icandance young ambassador and volunteer. “When working with young dancers, it is important that their creative ideas are explored in the sessions. It is essential that every dancer’s contribution is included and valued, and every dancer is seen and heard equally,” says Emma, an icandance facilitator. “Show genuine interest, take time to know the dancer on an individual level. It is important not to have just a general relationship but an emotional relationship too. Each dancer is different, so get to know who they are and what works best for them,” says Tejee, age 16, who is an icandance young ambassador and volunteer.

Above Denecia dancing

“It is really helpful if you come down to my level to talk so I don’t always have to break my neck looking up! Sometimes I get stuck on a word and I have my friend help me. My friend talks me through things step by step, and she always does this in a kind and supportive way. This really helps me.” Denecia, age 15, dancer and young ambassador

Hand in hand with the emotional impact of communication is being informed and skilled. Here are some practical strategies for when communicating with dancers with disabilities: • Check the dancer is ready to receive the communication • Be ready to receive their response as it may be subtle or bold • Review whether the environment is a communication friendly space. Check whether noise and distraction may stop the communication being delivered • Focus on what is possible for the dancer by using positive verbal/non-verbal responses • Say less and listen/observe more. What is their body telling you? • Questions can be overwhelming so be selective of how you use them • Avoid sarcasm and irony and focus on being clear and specific • Allow time for communication to be processed and then responded too at a pace that is comfortable for the dancer • Understand their communication style and adapt it to the dance space. The dancer may benefit from using Makaton or symbols or other communication aids Finding the best means of communicating with a dancer is a partnership between the dance professional, the dancer, and their family. Working together to create an open, accessible, and inclusive dance experience for all.

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Above Emily with one of the icandance team members

“Always communicate at eye level and show genuine interest in what the dancer is saying. This helps communication to be clearer and the conversation will flow. Something as simple as that can make such a difference.” Emily, age 17, dancer and young ambassador Above Rody feeling ready to dance at icandance

“Communicate normally, don’t make it too confusing. Don’t go too fast or too slow. Sometimes different accents take time to understand too.” Rody, age 17, dancer and young ambassador

“It helps if I can follow your footsteps. I also like choosing some of the songs and helping my friends. It helps me feel powerful and included when dancing.” Above Josh chatting with one of the icandance team members

“All children want to be heard and listened to – even if the disability is a barrier, there is always a way to communicate. I always invite children in to talk to my daughter and ask about her interests, rather than embarrassed parents shuffling their children off. It is important to have an open dialogue. Communication can be through the eyes, touch, pointing to communication cards and so much more. We, as a society, just need to be open and inclusive and welcome differences and celebrate them rather than shy away from them.” Dahlia, mum to dancer, Lulu

Josh, age 19, dancer and young ambassador

Information about upcoming CPD courses on inclusive dance The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing is working in partnership with icandance to develop a series of seminars that explore understanding difference in dance. Four short seminars will focus on the areas of wellbeing, learning, creativity and building an inclusive dance community. Led and developed by Juliet Diener these seminars hope to inform, enrich practice and enable teachers to explore and consider their practice. These seminars are suitable for teachers currently in training as well as those who have been teaching for a number of years. You can sign up to all four or choose parts that you feel will benefit you now. The Society is committed to developing our practice and building an inclusive environment so we can share our passion for dance and enable access for all. The dates are as follows: Seminar 1: Understanding the wellbeing needs of all dancers Monday 25 January 2021 (10:00 – 11.30) Seminar 2: Understanding the learning needs of all dancers Thursday 1 April 2021 (10:00 – 11.30) Seminar 3: Nurturing creativity in each dancer Wednesday 7 April 2021 (10:00 – 11.30) Seminar 4: Building an inclusive dance community Friday 9 April 2021 (10:00 – 11.30) Discover more and book via

Left Lulu dancing with her dance partner Dance | Issue 491 23

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Bursaries and Awards We know that for some people, the cost of training can be a barrier to getting them the skills to progress in their careers. Our bursaries are designed to provide financial assistance to dance teachers who need it most, creating accessible training pathways and opportunities within the dance community.

Broadening Access to Dance Award In 2021, we’re launching an exciting new development for Society members. Members will be able to apply for funding to support projects that broaden access opportunities in their local community and further support our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiative. Further information will be available on the website in Spring 2021:

Teachers Bursary Scheme New and exclusive for 2021 only: Bursary for online CPD courses for Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing members As we’re building our online events and digital benefits for our members, we’re introducing an exclusive bursary for the first time in 2021. Our members are invited to apply for funding for up to £225 to support their online CPD in 2021. The first round of online applications will open in January 2021 and close in February 2021, with a second round of applications opening again in the spring. Initial and Higher Teacher Training Bursaries Online applications for Initial and Higher Teacher Training Bursaries will be open from March until April 2021. Funding for up to £5,000 is available to support those undertaking their Dancesport Associate or Diploma in Dance Education qualification. Up to £2,000 is available for those studying for their Diploma in Dance Pedagogy. For further information about the bursaries, criteria and eligibility to apply, please visit

Annual Awards 2021 Phyllis Haylor Scholarship If you passed your Dancesport Associate with Highly Commended in 2020, you could be eligible to enter the Phyllis Haylor Scholarship, receiving £2,000 to support your continued professional development. Applications for the 2021 Phyllis Haylor Scholarship will open later this year. For further information, please visit the website at: dancesport-awards Theatre Bursary Awards Our Annual Theatre Bursary Awards celebrate the exceptional talent of the young dancers nominated to take part to represent each of the seven Theatre Faculties. In 2021, this competition will be adjudicated remotely and the winners announced via our social media channels and website. We are delighted to award winning students a bursary fund to support their training, while all nominees’ teachers will receive a bursary fund specifically designed to engage in development opportunities, community activity or to support students in financial need. For further information about the bursaries, criteria and eligibility to apply, please visit

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I am deeply grateful to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing for recognising the need for financial assistance for their overseas members. The brand is represented throughout the world, and more than ever I feel that being able to learn from the creative minds behind each syllabus here in the UK is extremely valuable. Angela Boshoff, Travel Bursary for International Members Bursary recipient

It is hard to put into words the gratitude I have for the bursary. It has made a huge impact on my life and my training. I could not have afforded the cost of tuition, and it has meant that I have been able to learn and study without the financial strain or worry. Olivia Storey – Initial Teacher Training Bursary recipient Dance | Issue 491 25

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Entitled to dance Karen Berry, founder of Danscentre, examines the secrets of the centre’s success in attracting boys into dance Karen Berry Principal and founder of Danscentre, Aberdeen


oth my business and teaching philosophy have been heavily influenced and driven by my own early experiences as a child and student. Having taught now for over 33 years, to a wide range of students of all abilities, ages and backgrounds, it wasn’t until relatively recently that I came to realise the connection between our school’s philosophy, and our success at attracting and training so many boys. Rather than as a result of any separate strategy, the success was a by-product of the procedures and practices that were integral to the achievement of our fundamental vision of inclusion and integrity. Having first experienced dance classes at a young age, I quickly decided that it wasn’t for me. Tights and tiaras didn’t appeal. Having grown up with brothers and being accustomed to free play and sport, I couldn’t relate to the image, themes and repetitive structure and content of the class. Deciding it wasn’t something ‘I’ did, I quickly got bored and left. My relationship with dance could have ended there had it not been for a chance opportunity at a later age, watching a class at another


school. I was immediately lured back by the varied structure, mentally and physically challenging environment, and the uniform was black rather than pink! My preconceived notion that dance wasn’t for me was suddenly dispersed and so began my lifelong relationship with this beautiful art form. When I first embarked on my teaching career, I was determined, regardless of gender, to break down any barriers to participation that may be rooted in biased assumptions. My vision for the school was to ensure it would offer a relevant, flexible and holistic dance education to all.

Over the years, the manifestation of this vision has resulted in a variety of approaches being tried, tested and adopted, many of which I believe have had a significant impact on the number of boys and young men we have taught at Danscentre over the years. With regards to attracting, retaining and training boys, the following are a few considerations and approaches worthy of sharing.

–  Flexible training programme with structure, content and delivery aligned to match students’ learning needs

If you want to attract boys, then you need to ensure the public perception of your business is appealing and relevant to boys and their parents

–  Holistic approach where learning is process driven so students and parents value dance education and appreciate its contribution to overall development, cognitively, socially, emotionally and physically

Business and marketing – attracting and retaining boys If you want to attract boys, then you need to ensure the public perception of your business is appealing and relevant

–  Relevant to all children of today regardless of ability, gender, race, ethnicity or socio-economic background

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to boys and their parents. First, is the need to dispense with any stigma or stereotyping of boys in dance. Thought needs to be given to marketing and communication. Your website, social media and promotional material should highlight the services you offer, the values you instil and the procedures and practices you employ to ensure gender inclusivity and cultural diversity. Try to ensure an equal amount of girl to boy images as well as a range of ages. Consider varying images and videos of boys with boys, boys with girls and older boys with younger boys. This develops acceptance and establishes the norm that, regardless of age, gender or race, dance is an activity that has relevance to all. Inspire and educate boys and their parents to value dance training by providing links and information relating to dance performances. Use role models demonstrating impressive male dancing and in particular drawing attention to the physicality and athleticism as well as the ability to express and communicate. Engaging with parents is essential, ensuring they understand and value the benefits of dance and relevance to their son. Use personal accounts to inspire

and connect. For example, we recently featured a personal account of one of our older boys, Marcus, aged 17, who as a talented rugby player and relatively late starter to dance at age 12, reported why he eventually chose dance over rugby: “Even though rugby and dance physically challenged me, only dance had the physical, emotional and artistic challenges that allowed me to truly express myself.” Constant communication and drip feeding of marketing materials will eventually help you to grow the number of boys you attract to the school. A long-term commitment is required, sourcing images and information, where possible from within your own school. Studio environment – a nonthreatening and inclusive space Once you have attracted boys to start a class you need to ensure the studio as well as the teachers are boy friendly. Consider the appearance of your studio from a boy’s perspective. Is the decoration gender neutral? If you have artwork does it feature only females? Display and show artwork that depicts athletic, strong, and culturally diverse, powerful images of both men and women. Female teachers should

Above Some members of the P6-P7 'Boyz Only' class in a performance at Aberdeen Music Hall, 2019 Above left Alfie McPherson, 2019

consider what they wear – does it appear over-feminine? Care is needed with use of language, for example avoiding phrases that feminise the dance style such as: ‘pretty arms’, ‘fairy runs’ or ‘dainty walks.’ Allow flexibility in what boys wear. Shorts and t-shirt are easily relatable to sportswear. Avoid using tights until boys and their parents understand the word isn’t one that challenges their masculinity. When boys eventually do need to wear tights, I first use the word leggings. Again, all marketing material should advertise the environment as a place that would make a boy feel comfortable and unthreatened. Structure, content and delivery – flexibility and diversity Being aware of developmental needs as well as gender differences is essential to inform your planning and ensure that the structure, content and delivery of the class is effective for learning. Research shows that boys tend to be more physically active than Dance | Issue 491 27

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Above ‘Bad Education’ performance for Dance Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London, 2014 Above right Scott Milne at the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Janet Cram Awards 2019

girls and more prone to being impulsive and restless. Anyone who has taught a class of seven-year-old boys will know the energy, enthusiasm and physicality that they bring with them. Keeping them focused, motivated, on task and actually even just keeping them still can be a real challenge! Problems can escalate when they are integrated into a class of girls who may conform more easily to your learning and behaviour expectations. For younger students, boys or girls, providing lots of variety in pace and activity will help maintain focus and motivation. A more conceptual and creative approach to syllabus learning will be more effective than weekly repetition of exercises and tasks. Teacher Michelle Whyte agrees: “Tapping into latest trends and ensuring content is current and relatable is essential. For example, Fortnite and TikTok sequences have captured the youth of today and although a passing fad they stem from

and were created by trained dancers. Once children are aware of the connection between these trends and their broader dance training they are hooked and want to learn more.” (Whyte, 2020) Learning through movement, ie learning what I call “the feeling before the form” is an ideal strategy. For example, allowing children to explore jumping with different spatial patterns, rhythms and themes before focusing on developing the use of feet. What young child wants to sit on the floor working their feet when they can jump about the room? Once you have their attention, they will then be more motivated to listen to detail. When you want to develop technique bring relevance and value to the task, using examples of older dancers, images or footage and explain why the task is needed. Adam Cooper’s swan leaps have come in very handy here! If boys aren’t comfortable integrating into a class that predominantly consists of girls, then consider the following. Boys do well around other boys dancing and younger boys in particular can thrive in an all-male environment. Research again supports how boys, more than girls naturally gravitate to learning as a

‘pack’– perhaps it’s in the DNA? Having regular all male classes – we call ours ‘Boyz Only’ – is a great strategy for first engaging boys and then motivating them to try further dance styles. These classes allow you to play on their strengths and use themes and imagery that relate to masculinity. Using what is perceived as cool vocabulary is almost necessary to begin with. However, with time and confidence comes the opportunity to adapt and tease out the interpretive and emotional aspects of movement, using it as a tool for expression.

Having regular all male classes is a great strategy for first engaging boys and then motivating them to try further dance styles Being flexible with content and style helps to broaden access to a wide variety of dance genres. Often boys and parents are surprised to know they

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Boys just need to know that for whatever reason it’s ok to dance


have been learning ballet amongst what they thought was a hip-hop class. This can spark a real desire to learn more, valuing not just how the functional aspects of the technique aids movement capability, but learning they actually enjoy ballet! If and when they integrate into girls classes, being in the minority doesn’t then seem such a big deal. Inspiring future generations As boys progress through the school they learn that they are valued as much as girls for who they are and what they bring to the studio. They learn that dance is demanding physically as well as cognitively, allows them to develop their social skills and provides an emotional outlet that brings value not just to their well-being but to their studies and chosen career paths. Boys regularly report how their commitment to dance over the years has impressed colleges and universities, helping them gain access to a wide variety of academic courses – mechanics, engineering, economics and medicine to name a few. When applying for employment, interviews are animated when the topic of their dance skills is

discussed, setting them apart from the crowd and demonstrating their selfassurance, creativity and individuality. For those who have gone on to study dance vocationally, they cross all areas of the industry – teachers, choreographers, dancers in musical theatre, contemporary and ballet companies world-wide. Completing the circle, our recently qualified male teacher Douglas Moir, studied all genres through his teenage years before leaving to train for a performing career. Now back in the studio his very presence goes some way to address the gender inequality in dance teachers within recreational schools. Teaching so many boys has been a privilege. I still so enjoy finding and shaping that diamond in the stone or connecting to the boy that school has given up on. Reflecting back on the boys I have taught over the years, nothing gives me more pleasure to see how they span all areas of life, knowing how much their dance training meant to them then and means now. All boys, regardless of ability are an inspiration to our future male dancers as all are capable of reaching out to a similar boy who just needs to know that for whatever reason it’s ok to dance.

i Karen Berry BA (Hons) Classical Ballet Teaching, RAD, BSc Chemistry and Psychology (Designated). LISTD. Karen is the founder of Danscentre in Aberdeen and Teacher Training Manager at The Royal Ballet School. She has had a diverse 33-year career performing, researching, choreographing and teaching. Karen has worked in dance training and education worldwide. Her working week is shared between The Royal Ballet School in London and Danscentre in Aberdeen, where she continues to teach recreational and pre-vocational students.

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Dance for life Carole Edrich highlights the value of dance for older people

Y Carole Edrich Writer, social entrepreneur and photographer

ou’ve probably seen the video on YouTube of Marta C González, who despite her Alzheimer’s, remembered and moved to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, which she had performed to packed houses as prima ballerina in the 1960s. It’s a moving example of one of the many benefits of dance for older people. In fact, a number of scientific studies have shown that dance – particularly ballroom dancing and Argentine tango – is one of the best ways to stimulate the regeneration of brain cells. Studies have also suggested that dance may be effective in targeting motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease through the way that it stretches and strengthens muscles and increases flexibility throughout the body.. Meanwhile, around one third of people aged 65 plus and half of people aged 80 plus, fall at least once each year in the UK. While a broken wrist or a sprained ankle may heal within a few weeks, the fear of leaving the house in case you should fall again, the shame that comes from feeling unable to manage things that used to be simple and the isolation and loneliness experienced as a result can be life-long and life-changing. To help change this, a number of

dance organisations have adapted physiotherapy techniques and systems of movement training designed to improve muscle tone and balance into something more engaging, social and fun. While dance is clearly good for the health and wellbeing of older dancers, the contributions of older professionals bring a breadth and depth of experience and subtlety of expression gained from years of hard toil. One example is our own Heather Rees who, in her 80s, is still passing on her extensive knowledge of tap dance to members through the Society's full day CPD courses. It is therefore not surprising that companies of all sizes including Sadler’s Wells, the English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and East London Dance work with and provide outreach to older people in their communities and further afield, combining this with their own artistic projects and programmes. The Company of Elders is a group of 20 non-professional dancers who rehearse with a renowned choreographer every week at Sadler’s Wells to make new work for public performances that can happen locally, nationally or internationally. The company welcomes diversity in age, ethnicity and gender

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If you are thinking of working with older dancers, remember to consider the following: • Find out what the attendees want from your class – are they looking to keep fit or inspired? Perhaps they want to meet other people or are looking to improve on their previous technique. • Remember that everyone will have different levels of ability, agility, and stamina. Differentiate between tasks and enable individuals to make their own choices and work at their own pace. • Allow for a longer warm-up and cool down, with plenty of pauses for water or a quick sit down if necessary. • Think about the music you choose – what will your class consider an inspiring and motivational soundtrack? • Be honest, open, and challenge when required – working hard and being given constructive feedback with praise is valuable at any age.

and celebrates the joy that dance performance can bring to older adults. Find out more on page 51. Yorkshire Dance has worked with older adults for many years, partnered Aesop (Arts Enterprise with a Social Purpose) for its falls prevention research years ago and employ a project manager especially for older people projects because what they are doing is so wide and varied. Yorkshire Dance’s Ageless Festival featured a wide range of artists, film makers and speakers who reimagined age through dance. It included local, national and international contributions, including the work they had developed with hundreds of older people across Yorkshire over the decade. Before lockdown, Yorkshire Dance also lead on the national project Dance On. Dance On involves over 450 older dancers a week across 55 locations in Leeds, Bradford and Doncaster and the University of Leeds with whom they are collaborating on research around the health and wellbeing of particularly inactive adults. Hannah Robertshaw, Programmes Director at Yorkshire Dance says: “We are trying to blow apart the myth that if you are over the age of 50 you only want tea dances.” A message and idea we can all get behind.

Above Yorkshire Dance's Beige. A participative celebration of performance dance for all ages

DANCE FOR ALL AGES Sequence dance brings great rewards for older dancers with its combination of social, physical and cognitive benefits. It is very hard on everyone not being able to benefit from the social aspect of sequence dance during the pandemic, but the physical and mental benefits can still be felt through practice at home. Our dancesport faculties have launched a new, dynamic initiative to keep you dancing in a socially distanced world – whatever your age. Log in to your members area on to find box dance content to inspire teachers – with supporting syllabus sheets and videos for alternative rhythms, ballroom, Latin, and sequence.

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What’s in a name? We start to examine the history and origins of the Society’s 117-year-old name


ver the coming months, we will share our journey with members to discover more about the origins of our name and what links there may have been with the British Empire. We seek to acknowledge our history and place our current name in the context of the time in which the Society was formed 117 years ago in 1904. We want to reassure our members that we are aware of the controversial nature of the word ‘Imperial’ in our name. The Society has a long and fascinating history and – to preserve and learn more about it – we plan to appoint an archivist to help us collate and organise our historic resources for both current and future generations of dance professionals. In the commemorative book published in 2004 to celebrate our centenary we learn that the Society was finally formed on 25 July 1904, when nearly 200 independent dance teachers came together at the Hotel Cecil in London. It was at first called the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers, and only later changed to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. However, we currently do not know why the name ‘Imperial’ was chosen. We’d love to hear from any members who have more information about this aspect of our history.

The initial aim of the Society was ‘the elevation and advancement of the art of dancing, and the preservation of its ancient prestige and dignity,’ whilst at the same time aiming to improve the standard of work and teaching throughout the United Kingdom and cover a general approach to dancing. These days we say: ‘The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exists to advance excellence in dance teaching and education. Membership of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing is the passport to artistic and professional progression.’ We look forward to working with an archivist to hopefully find out more about the origins of our name, sharing our discoveries with all of you, considering it carefully in the context of when the Society was formed and also in the light of our modern-day aspirations and values. We will also be exploring the histories and modern-day practices of our dance genres to ensure that we fully acknowledge the diverse cultural roots of each dance style. During 2021 we will start this process, decolonising our syllabus by creating a series of teaching resource materials that reveal the rich histories of each genre and celebrate the diversity of dance today. We begin this series in the Tap Faculty pages with an article on the origins of Tap Dance.

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International update

Europe Carole Watson reports on Donna Selvaggia, a group of female dancers aged 17–45


Carole Ann Watson International Representative for Europe

Dance is for everyone, no matter what your age or origins. This diversity has been embraced by Giulia Coliola, an ISTD Licentiate who teaches in her own school and presents children and students for exams. Giulia is Artistic Director and Choreographer of Donna Selvaggia (Wild Woman), a group of dancers encompassing various generations. Members ages range from 17 to 45 years – all students of Giulia’s and folk dancers from Southern FOTODILEO

Italy, who were happy to inform their work with a contemporary style. Unfortunately women often make the news because they are victims of violence and femicide. Donna Selvaggia’s members want to promote positivity, expressing their thoughts and emotions through movement. Inspired by the book Donne che corrono coi lupi (Women who run with the wolves) written by American psychotherapist Clarissa Pinkola Estés, these women express their inner feminine strength. Returning to nature, the profound instinct of a woman and each action springs up from the necessity to assert themselves and evoke memories. So where does diversity come into this company? A wide range of ages turned out to be a resource, as the various generations learnt to listen and collaborate. Emotions were shared and bonds were made. As per the

technique, to a classically trained dancer a jump had a refined line but to a folk dancer this was not the case. The choreographer had to develop the skills in these dancers so as to be inclusive. She used their diverse techniques as an advantage and experimented to attain elegance and a new vocabulary of movement. Changing resources, experimental workshops with writers, actors, painters and musicians kept the exploration of emotions alive. Working together with a musical group called Bevano Est has now become a regular collaboration. These musicians play to communicate their individuality and emotions, something which Giulia has been searching for. Together they have created a performance called Pour Vous. Dance is a beautiful art, which has the power to use diversity to knock down barriers and create inclusion both from a physical and psychological point of view. Every human being should be given the opportunity to live this experience. Above and left Dancers from multi-generational Italian dance group Donna Selvaggia (Wild Woman) Dance | Issue 491 33

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International update


Astrid Sherman

North America

International Representative for North America

Astrid Sherman shines a light on the work of Ballet Beyond Borders and speaks to Betty Alleyne about dance in Barbados Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing students at Ballet Beyond Borders In 2017 Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB) embraced diversity, inclusiveness and equality in an international dance festival. Alongside classical ballet and contemporary, BBB champions dance across genres and presents all forms including folkloric and Native American cultures with indigenous nations of Africa and South America. While BBB encourages excellence, they looked deeper: “My lowest priority is who wins the medals,” says director Charlene Carey. BBB’s main reach extends beyond the stage with their Art of Diplomacy conference. Invited guest performers, dance filmmakers, authors and academics challenge young dancers to think about how their dance can have a role in fighting adversity and strengthening communities. Each year the festival brings featured artists, who have used dance to help others, to tell their story. The Art of Diplomacy conference was created in partnership with the University of Montana (2017) and Loyola Marymount University in LA (2019). These have included: transgender ballet dancer Sophie Rebecca and her journey to choose her gender for ballet examinations; Ahmad Joudeh, who grew up in a Syrian refugee camp and how dance became his religion; South African dancer Andile Ndlovu, now at Washington Ballet, sharing how an African boy with his distinct identity can pursue an art form not of his heritage to success, and Louie Plant and how he has represented the Confederated Salish Kootenai tribes through sharing his love of dance. Young dancers from around the world not only meet these courageous and notable artists, they attend their masterclasses and sometimes even perform alongside them. Part of BBB’s mandate is to create outreach performances involving visiting dancers in local communities. Our Society’s young Canadian dancers were asked

to share their anti-bullying dance for the Missoula School District. It was an empowering experience that will forever remain with them. Others have become BBB ambassadors at events in China, Mexico, Pakistan and Russia. Dance is a powerful common language that crosses all cultures. Winning essay writer in 2018, 15-yearold BBB participant Julia Duarte from Brazil, wrote with poignancy: “Sometimes I see people that cannot bare the weight of their own lives, and then I dance. I dance because I know that even for a brief moment, I can take them to another place where the problems in their shoulders don’t exist…. Sometimes I see children that feel inferior only because of their skin colour, only because they’re black, and then I dance. I dance to represent my ethnicity so everyone can see that our skin tone is as beautiful as any other.” Future BBB events are planned in Missoula, Montana 11–14 August 2021 and in Cuba, January 2021. Astrid spoke to Betty Alleyne, joint winner, with Livingstone Alleyne, of the 2018 International Imperial Dancesport Award “Happy times”, as related by Betty Alleyne, “started with our first associate examinations…it was with the great Anne Lingard…we never forget her!” Betty and Livy Alleyne have been central figures in not only bringing the Society’s ballroom training to Barbados in 2000 (when over 100 excited Barbadians took their first examination) but also pushing for equality and opportunity for Barbadian ballroom

Above Betty and Livingstone Alleyne

dancers. In 2010 they received permission to have one of the Society’s first grand final qualifiers outside of England. Betty says their grand finals story started with the magazine. They felt left out looking at all the events and opportunities for teachers and students so they wrote letters to the Society about all the opportunities they wanted to be part of. As a result they had the opportunity to qualify and participate at the Society’s grand finals – in fact Barbados was granted one of the first qualifiers outside of England. Graciously, Betty gives a shout out to Mr and Mrs Hunte’s dance school Happyways, as she says the first year was a struggle and describes how they, their teachers, students and parents lent costumes, shoes and even partners (teachers partner the dancers). “We will always be grateful” says Betty. She also gives gratitude to all the Society’s examiners who came through Barbados and shared so much. “We grew in understanding every time they left Barbados, from their workshops and advice. We continued to grow and mature over the years as we were visited by these knowledgeable individuals and we thank you all for caring about our challenges and being available when we asked for help.” The world event to be held in Barbados was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Betty says she is hoping to see it rescheduled for 2021 and dreams of seeing many Caribbean dancers among the finalists. Betty and Livy are grateful to all those who have helped their journey, proud of all their dancers and those whose lives they have touched, with some becoming teachers outside of Barbados and others who have become professionals in their chosen fields. Betty talks about how dance helped them become balanced individuals: “Mannerly, well dressed, polite and gentlemen. They learnt that win or loose they danced the best they could on that day and that is important.”

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Asia Chua Zjen Fong spoke to Tadj, a 16-year-old Latin dancer of mixed Chinese and Indian heritage, from Kuala Lumpur i

Chua Zjen Fong International Representative for Asia

Racial discrimination can happen anywhere, in different fields and even at top management level, up to government agencies. Dance is a common language that all races can use to communicate and express our feelings. But even in the world of dance, racial discrimination still exists. Many countries have immigrant populations who have lived there for generations but still face discrimination. However, there are examples of successful multicultural populations. In Malaysia and Singapore, for example, Chinese, Malay and Indian populations have coexisted for decades and will continue to do so for generations to come. In Malaysia, native races like Kadazan, Iban, Melanau, Singh and many more have been living together for centuries. In Asia, there are not many other countries that have such a rich racial diversity as Malaysia and Singapore. Racial discrimination still exists but when it comes to dance, everybody uses the same language to spread their passion. For example, a 16-year-old student called Tadj, from Kuala Lumpur whose heritage is Chinese and Indian, commonly known as ‘Chindian’. Tadj can speak Mandarin, English, Malay, Hokkien and little Hindi. His passion for Latin dancing started off in school

when he was 13 and soon he joined My Dancesport Academy in Kuala Lumpur. He has a Chinese partner and they have danced together since 2018. What follows is an interview with Tadj. Have you ever faced racial discrimination? “Yes, I have faced racial discrimination, but not in dance, I have never faced any racial discrimination in dance. When I was younger and studying in a Chinese school in Penang there was this one girl (classmate) where even though I’d never bothered her, she would constantly complain to the teacher about how dirty I was and say that she didn’t want to sit next to me. After a period, me being young and naive, I confronted her and asked her why she was doing this. The next day her father came to school and threatened me (a 10-year-old) saying that if I did anything to her, he would do something bad to me.” How do you overcome racial discrimination? “To be honest, I haven’t encountered any racism towards me in a long time, but if it were to ever happen, I’d confront them if they are very open about it. But if they are just going to say little things, I’d just ignore it.”

Left Tadj with his dancing partner

Why do you think dance has been so welcoming? “All the people I’ve met in my dancing career so far are all very down to earth and respectful. But if they are racist it will most probably hurt their reputation both in dance and their social lives. Also, in dance, everybody is focused on the work of the dance and outcome. We don’t really bother about skin colour or where they come from.” Do you think other countries suffer racial discrimination in dance? “Yes, it doesn’t matter what country the dancer is from, if the teacher is racist toward his or her students, other students will follow the teacher and therefore spread the racism. If the child is racist, it’s probably influenced by the parents. Adults play a very important role. Small racist remarks can contribute to racial discrimination in a child.” In general, racial discrimination still exists and sometimes in the dance world. But with the proper education from both parents and teachers, this issue can be resolved. When it comes to dance, everybody is speaking the same language with the same passion!

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International update

Australasia Jess Walker asked Elliot about their experience as a non-binary person


Jess Walker International Representative for Australasia


Delia Sainsbury International Representative for Africa and the Middle East

Being seemingly hidden at the bottom of the globe and previously isolated from other continental influences, Australasia has the image of a trail-blazing ‘social laboratory’. Free to make decisions that are seemingly easier to introduce given smaller population sizes and having a general ‘can do’ attitude, perhaps there are fewer barriers to change on a large scale than in some other countries. But can we improve? Well, the answer is, of course, yes. I was privileged to interview Elliot regarding their experiences as a transgender non-binary person and asked some questions that might be helpful for all of us to consider moving forward. Do dance venues clarify that they are LGBTQI+ friendly? Have you experienced such venues? “Yes and no. My sister danced at a studio that was very ‘awkward’ and I never felt that was a safe space for me to start dancing, I didn’t feel accepted. “While studios do generally say they accept LGBTQI+ it does not always feel that way. The venue may have not made it clear to patrons that it is a safe space. Even if they did, it’s soon forgotten where it should be reminded regularly what the policies are.” Do you think that internal procedures should be put into place in advance to train teachers and staff on sensitivity and decorum with regards to making venues more LGBTQI+ friendly? “There are some services out there that do training for school teachers. In New Zealand there is Rainbow Youth, which is a great organisation. They offer advice on

even simple things like correct pronouns to use and when. I don’t feel strict policies need to be in place for a dance teacher as they are not with students as much as say school teachers but there is no harm in people doing some research themselves.” Do you think that with the understanding of LGBTQI+ in today’s world the relevance of separate male and female exercises is still needed? “I feel that the age where children are seemingly forced to dance only male or female syllabus is out of date. They should be able to dance what they feel is right for them as many might not ‘feel’ right doing one or the other. I understand there would have to be allowances made for many reasons but individuals should be able to choose and be supported.” We have come so far but what would be a good next step be to making changes? “Changes to websites could be an easy thing to do – look at the language that is used with regards to students attending. That is the first place to look when you are looking for a studio and how it is written is a big indicator of the attitude. Making an effort goes a long way, even if there are mistakes made.”

Sakia Cox-Milne reports from Bahrain Ballet Centre Greetings from the Bahrain Ballet Centre. We have been hit badly by the COVID-19 virus, as our situation is somewhat different from other regions. Many of our children are “contract children”, ie their parents are under contract for a period of time in Bahrain. Once the virus hit, many had their contracts terminated and were repatriated to their home countries. We began online classes with only a handful of students. Many struggled with the internet connection and many parents were reluctant to have their children online more than they considered necessary, as all the school classes were obviously online also. The heat in our country is excessive, so the wearing of masks for vigorous exercise is also a major problem. Unfortunately, we had to cancel the March examinations. And at the time of writing only 12 children will have taken part in remote examinations in November. We have introduced other genres of dance to keep our studio going. We

Diversity is such a wide-ranging subject covering areas such as gender, disability and race. There is much to consider within the dance realm even though it’s generally considered that the performance world is more tolerant of people’s choices. I thank you Elliot for hopefully expanding some approaches for us all to be more diverse.

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Africa and the Middle East Delia Sainsbury presents perspectives from the region

have added belly dance, Khaleeji and hip hop to the curriculum in order to attract more children and offer greater diversity of styles and build our numbers back. Bahrain is ostensibly a Muslim country, but all religions are welcome and there is no friction. We have Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim students and also teach mother and toddler classes, classes for the elderly, autistic and special needs children. The only time we have to be careful is when we have girls wearing a hijab in class. We then make sure no men or boys come and join the class or enter the studio. Also, we adapt the costumes if we are doing a show, so that the girls can wear the hijab, participate and respect their beliefs at the same time. During Ramadan, we adjust the classes to a later time slot for those who fast and allow the parents to use the music room as a prayer room. For our children with special needs, I have adapted the primary ballet, modern and tap syllabi. I incorporate stretch and isolation movements to develop their motor skills. They love it and are always included in our end of year shows. At the time of writing we are trying to get our heads around marking out our already small studio ready for remote examinations, having sanitizer bottles placed strategically and placing the camera so it doesn’t cut off! Jean Weirich reports from Danceworx KZN, KwaZulu-Natal I am pleased to report that our studio is now 70% returned. Some schools with whom we share a venue are still closed for dance classes however, and we are also seeking alternative premises.

Heritage Day in South Africa is on 24 September. South Africans are encouraged to celebrate their diversity and be proud of our Rainbow Nation. The wide context is that South Africa belongs to all its people. Our studio was privileged to be asked to perform at our local shopping centre in Durban North, demonstrating the diversity of our people in dance. My Danceworx KZN Theatre Dance Company performed with 32 dancers. We only had two rehearsals but somehow pulled it off! Some dancers were new to the studio and therefore had received very little training, but we included them anyway. It was an enormous success and we have been asked to perform in other local venues. This promotes both the studio and the Society as a whole. The children loved it and due to the diverse cultures in our studio we were able to perform a wide cross-section of genres and styles. An update from Delia Sainsbury KwaZulu-Natal, or KZN as it is called, means ‘Place of the Zulu’. It was created

in 1994 when the two provinces were combined after the first democratic election. It began as a colony in 1843 and became the Natal Province in 1910. KwaZulu-Natal’s people belong to various ethnic groups. Peoples of Black African descent, mostly Zulu, make up more than four-fifths of the population, while Asians of mostly Indian descent account for about one-tenth and whites of mostly European descent less than one-tenth (source: Due to the cultural and religious diversity, Durban and Pietermaritzburg offer a wide range of dance genres. Indian dance is extremely popular, and KZN has the largest Indian population outside of India. The styles taught are Bharathanatyam and Kathak. I adjudicated a festival in KZN in 2019 and Indian dance was very prevalent. My knowledge is extremely limited, but I loved studying the dance form and the local teachers said I did very well with my comments! I am in the process of contacting the KZN studios to try and introduce the Society’s classical Indian syllabi to the region, although the level of the work is breathtaking already. Of course, the largest cultural influence is Zulu and if the Society intends to introduce African dance into the genres, they should look no further than the excellent Zulu dancers of KZN. Far left Bahrain Ballet Centre Left Waterfront Theatre School African Dance Company Performing in traditional Xhosa dress Above Waterfront African Dance Company in Russia about to perform for the BRICS cultural festival Dance | Issue 491 37

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Conservatoire for Professional Training in Classical Ballet, Contemporary Dance, Jazz Dance & Musical Theatre 038_039_DANCE_491.indd 38


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Focus On

Cecchetti Classical Ballet Un, Dos, Tres Philippa McMeechan, Head of Faculty Development for Cecchetti, looks at how a television programme inspired Yos Clark to follow his dream to be a dancer in Ivory Coast

When you hear Yos speak about falling in love with dance while watching a programme on television at his home in Ivory Coast, you hear his passion and you get a strong sense of his single mindedness to succeed. The programme, Un, Dos, Tres was his first glimpse of professional ballet and contemporary dancers at work, and the eight-year-old was enthralled. Yos knew then that he wanted to be a dancer. Financial constraints did not make things easy from the outset and going away to a dance school was unheard of. Street dance was the genre of choice

amongst his male peers. This, coupled with the fact that there were no ballet classes locally meant the odds were stacked against him. It makes you wonder just how many naturally talented dancers there are in the world, who aren’t given an opportunity. How much raw talent has been missed because tradition has dictated that we would not find it in a particular place or amongst a particular demographic? At eight years old, Yos didn’t talk about his passion to become a dancer. Being a dancer was not valued. Instead he continued to study the professional dancers he saw on television and copied the stretches at home on his stairs. For several years he had to be content with looking at ballet online and searching YouTube in order to teach himself, replicating movements as accurately as possible. At the age of 17 Yos made the conscious decision that he wanted dance to be his career. However, with no teachers available to him in his home town and no money for lessons he had to find a different route. As his determination grew Yos began to reach out and broaden his horizons with the help of social media. He started following everybody he could find with ‘dance’ in their profile. Yos’ focus

and drive to succeed soon paid off and a break came when a teacher in France noticed his profile and offered him some classes via Skype. For two years Yos took lessons this way. I wonder how many of us would have thought, before the events of 2020, that on-line lessons were possible? With some formal training now under his belt, Yos landed some parts in shows and productions in his home country, which in turn led to some appearances on national television. The British Ambassador to Ivory Coast happened to be watching a performance and made contact with an old friend, internationally recognised teacher and examiner Richard Glasstone MBE, who offered the guidance and opportunity that Yos needed. Yos is currently training full time at KS Dance in Warrington, where Director Kate Simmons and her team are nurturing his talent and providing the break he needed. So, to the future, and Yos is hoping that his visa will be extended and that he will be able to stay in the UK to continue at KS Dance, particularly after the hiatus of the past months of pandemic. He is a huge fan of Kidd Pivot, the Canadian contemporary dance company and their choreographer Crystal Pite, and also of Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Yos realises that at the age of 26 a career in classical ballet would not be lengthy, but his dreams for the future are to establish his own contemporary dance company. Who could doubt that he will achieve this given his journey so far.

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Philippa McMeechan Head of Faculty Development for Cecchetti

i Cecchetti Society Classical Ballet Faculty Update At the end of August 2020, we were delighted to welcome Philippa McMeechan as our new Head of Faculty Development for Cecchetti Classical Ballet. Philippa can be contacted on email: Following the Cecchetti Classical Ballet Faculty election, we also welcome the new Committee members who met for the first time in September 2020. Above left to right: The new Cecchetti Classical Ballet Faculty committee 2020–2023 Julie Cronshaw Lisa Hunter Gillian Hurst Alison Jenner Tracey Moss Shirley-Anne Osborne Sarah Wells Head of Faculty development: Philippa McMeecham

If members have matters they would like to raise with committee, please contact Sharon Orme, Events and Faculty Administrator: Cecchetti@ or 07551 159471

Left and far left Yos Clark Dance | Issue 491 41

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Cecchetti Classical Ballet ~ continued

Breaking barriers through ballet Artistic Director of Reach-Out4Dance Olivia Pickford describes how ballet can help those struggling with mental health challenges from clinical psychologist Emma Jackson who helped implement all the necessary tools to take this outreach project into NHS settings. We wanted our relaunch to be done correctly and thoroughly. Our first performance was intended for March 2020 at a psychiatric hospital in Birmingham as well as leading Swan Lake workshops in a recovery college in Walsall with females who had faced and overcome real trauma in their lives. Sadly then lockdown happened. However, we will not be defeated and we hope that once life allows us we can start to take our workshops to those who may never access ballet. Errol, Australian born, was one of the kindest and most down to earth humans I’d ever met. His Antipodean ways really taught me that there are no barriers in ballet. He wholeheartedly believed in ballet through outreach. Why can’t ballet be for everyone? Why does it have to be only for those who can afford the tickets? Reach-Out4Dance is in loving memory of you Errol and we shall continue ‘breaking barriers through ballet’.


Reach-Out4Dance (RO4D) is the relaunch of a previous outreach project that was set up in 2004. Our aim is to take ballet of a high standard to those living with mental health challenges. Professional dancers from The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and vocational schools took part and our format was to show a day in the life of a dancer, starting with class and finishing with a pas de deux. RO4D’s aim is to create an informal setting where the audience is almost in touching distance and can see and hear the dancers every breath allowing them a true insight into the athleticism and artistry of ballet. There are no barriers. It allows ballet to be for everyone. We aim to access hard hitting venues such as psychiatric secure hospitals and recovery colleges and to reach out to anyone whose life has been affected by mental health problems. One of our favourite performances was in an all-male psychiatric secure unit. On arrival we were told none of the men wanted to watch the workshop. So, I told the dancers to just carry on and started class. Slowly these men were drawn from their rooms and sat down to watch and by the end we had 75 men sitting in front of us, some even crying. One man said: “You make me want to get better.” At the end we always ask if anyone wants to try partnering one of the dancers so they can feel how difficult it is. The men were battling with each other to try. When you ask the audience what moved them most it’s always the pas de deux and Nutcracker seems to crack even the toughest audiences today. Errol Pickford, former Principal Dancer of The Royal Ballet and graduate teacher of Elmhurst was an integral part of instigating the outreach project. He sadly passed away two years ago. As his wife I was determined to relaunch Reach-Out4Dance with huge support









i Contact Above and above right RO4D in action

42 Dance | Issue 491

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Classical Greek Dance Our diverse community Ginnette Brookes teaches Classical Greek dance at Dupont Dance Stage School in Leicester I am fortunate to have been teaching Classical Greek at Dupont Dance Stage School for eight years. The school, founded by Janette Dupont, has been part of the culturally diverse city of Leicester since 1951, and in 1991 her daughter Rebecca and husband Oscar Sarrafan took over. It has gone from strength to strength providing children and adults in Leicester’s communities with an opportunity to dance. The school sits in the heart of the city’s cultural quarter and at the start of a road that is known as the Golden Mile – a huge market place for Indian food, fashion, spices and the highest concentration of Indian jewellery shops in the UK. The Diwali Festival of Light held there usually attracts thousands of visitors from across Britain. The heart of Leicester is its ethnic mix and also its ability to live peacefully and supportively whilst embracing the differences. It is fair to say that the diversity at the dance school mirrors the ethnic mix of the city. We embrace and encourage children from a broad range of cultural, ethnic, and social backgrounds at

Dupont and our pupils come from Black, Asian, Polish, Albanian, Chinese, Russia, Italian and French families and more. Recently I have come to see many parallels between what we do and the ethos of Ruby Ginner who said of her dance genre: “It has an important part in education not only as a physical but as a cultural training.” She was a pioneer, taking inspiration from Ancient Greece to form this expressive dance style that encourages students to understand the music, poetry, nature, and cultural ceremonies of that time. She spent time learning about their lives, ideals, customs, and religious beliefs, and we can I think learn much from that approach in 2021. She began her work on this at the beginning of the last century and described it as a time when: “Life was changing socially, politically and artistically, everything was striving towards broader horizons.” We too are in an enormous period of change in 2020 and have had our minds focused globally on diversity

and a call to greater understanding and inclusion. It’s a time to listen and learn and ensure that all forms of dance reach and embrace everyone equally. We are often asked what we do at Dupont to achieve a fair mix and embrace diversity, how do we manage? It’s simple, the phone rings or the email arrives and when someone asks to dance we invite them in. We see the child, we see the desire to learn and as teachers we do what we love to do, which is develop, encourage, and support them to be the best they can be. I find in my teaching that Classical Greek is the perfect genre for encouraging and including every child; it provides opportunities to engage imagination, creativity, freedom of expression and movement that is accessible to all. I look at my classes and see the pupil – nothing else. I see the joy, I see the excitement in their eyes, and I teach. It’s as simple as that.

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Pippa Cobbing Head of Faculty Development for Imperial Classical Ballet, Greek and National

A drop in the ocean Society fellow and examiner Jean Beckley looks back on her time teaching in South Africa

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop Mother Theresa I believe the above quote I found is an apt reflection of each and every teacher of a dance genre in our Society. As a student, my first experience of teaching was at the EOAN Group in Cape Town. Founded by British immigrant Helen Southern-Holt in 1933, the centre offered cultural activities in dance, drama, singing, painting and sewing for the community of District Six. Given the diversity of capability and physical attributes of the pupils, I

found Ruby Ginner’s Classical Greek Dance gave all an equal chance - as it continues to do to this day! Acknowledging and encouraging diversity is about creating equal opportunities and workshops are a perfect means. I learnt very early in my career to treat each person as a valued individual, helping to mould their talents, to overcome limitations and to reach their full potential as dancers, as well as respecting the integrity and ethos of Dance. I continued with my Greek dance studio when in 1969 there was an expansion to my career. Ballet, with allied subjects of Classical Greek and National dance, were incorporated into the standards 6 to 10 curriculum of the Transvaal Education Department and, as the Greek dance teacher, I had to create syllabus content for the five years of study, which culminated in set sequences for the final year 12 examination, and the Art, Ballet, Music School – now the National School of the Arts – was born. These school classes challenged me more but differently from my private studio. I had to continually be one step ahead and

could never let my energy level waver. In 1987, I became Artistic Director of the Johannesburg Youth Ballet (JYB), an inter-racial amateur dance company formed by Audrey King in 1976, and the first mixed race dance company from South Africa to perform internationally. JYB was a huge learning curve in my teaching career! Members needed self-discipline and I took care my instructions/corrections were not misinterpreted and did not give offence. Being Artistic Director was very challenging, but it came with great satisfaction and gratitude. In 2017 we celebrated our 40th anniversary – no mean feat – and I retired from the position but remained on the board of directors. In closing, I leave you with a comment I found about diversity: “Human diversities are widely plural and their histories complex.” So teachers, in particular the younger generation, continually challenge yourselves in delivering a class, break away from the ‘mould’ we all tend to develop over time. Give the students a surprise! Dance | Issue 491 45

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Classical Indian Dance Equality and diversity Artistic Director of Gurukul Studios International, Pali Chandra, looks at the increase of candidates taking part in Classical Indian Dance (Kathak) in Bangalore, Dubai and Zurich The best metaphor that describes Gurukul International is an umbrella. Gurukul is a banner under which dance belongs to all. It is a safe haven where dance is democratised to not differentiate between individuals and it embraces diversities. Gurukul International has successfully created a network of cultures, wherein all the points are connected by one common thread – the bond of dance, and welcome everyone who wants to make dance a tool for self-expression. Dance as education is paramount and celebrating diversity and working to achieve creative potential in all our students, is at the heart of the work of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama. We are committed to training and supporting the most talented students, regardless of ethnicity, gender identity, varied abilities, age, sexual orientation, or religion. When a family and their young dancer share a passion for dance it does help to develop and support the dancer’s growth, and to facilitate this, we dedicate and design special days and projects. For instance, the Father and Daughter Day is one where dads follow

dance instructions given to them by their daughters. We can see Harshita fixing the Mudra (page 45, left). Mother and Daughter Days are where they perform every year, challenging each other as “Dancing Divas” (page 45, centre) On Grandma and Granddaughter Day, Revati’s grandmother was trained to perform on stage at the age of 72 (page 45, right). These nuclear families group together to make our Gurukul international family more diverse and integrated.

order. Dubai Theatre and Arts Community (DUCTAC) is where it all began. DUCTAC is a melting pot for all art forms from the region and beyond. Gurukul was not just an integral part of it but through this platform I was amazed to get a sneak peek into the Arab world of arts. To my amazement I met many female dancers from the age of 3 to 93 who absorbed and reflected our rhythm patterns as a reflex action. This was extremely encouraging, engaging and entertaining.

Being a part of the Arab world When I came to Dubai in 2005 there were no structured systems of teaching and learning Kathak. Hence, I saw a space for me to create this and so my journey to establish Gurukul started. Keeping the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing syllabus at the core of my teaching and implementing it through my team gave us a lot of credibility. Since then thousands of students have been enrolling with us. The pressure of maintaining a balance and keeping all dancers from different ethnic backgrounds and learning styles engaged was a tall

Being a part of the Swiss world Seven years ago, when I came to live in Zurich, I saw yoga, the sibling of our Indian classical dance, which was more prevalent than Kathak. Therefore, with yoga I started to bridge the gap between cultures. It worked beautifully and gradually the Swiss community was ready to absorb Kathak as an education. Diverse nationalities joined and for the past three years we have had Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing Kathak exams with many students achieving distinctions.

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Lisa Harrison-Jones Head of Faculty Development for Modern Theatre and Classical Indian

Left to right Father and Daughter Day; Mother and Daughter Day; Grandma and Granddaughter Day

Residency programmes Parampara, a residency programme where we dancers visit the gurus in their home towns opened ways to study their cultures. We travelled to various countries to explore different genres of dance to further develop our dance vocabulary and knowledge base from other ethnic and cultural backgrounds. It is the perfect opportunity for fusion to take place in mentored environments. Site-specific performances are another effective way of blending into the society and spectators. Some of our most successful performances have been at airports, train stations, stadiums, forests, and deserts making them into ‘global villages’. Often audiences are intrigued by watching a classical dance presentation in new venues. Postperformance, each artist is encouraged to mingle with people in order to network. Vocational students regularly perform at the Dubai Duty Free, open to a wide range of people. Grade 5 and Grade 6 students engage people in parks to celebrate dance and our Grade 4 and Grade 3 students often explore deserts

as a performance location. Prior to the performance the arena is carefully cleaned to support safe dancing. Yes, we love the proscenium stages but also present work in underground stations in London and have performed at the House of Lords. As well as performing in graffiti tunnels in Munich, on a river boat deck in Zurich, under the arches of the Taj Mahal or in the deserts of Dubai. The attitude and purpose is to either bring the audience to auditoriums or to travel where they are. However, the pandemic has changed the medium of sharing the art form and also altered the way in which the local artists have been supported. This year we used the e-platforms effectively by hosting and being a part of several online shows and performances such as the Swiss International Kathak Festival SIKF, Indywood Talent Hunt and more. These supported hundreds of local artists and connected them to millions across the world. We dancers became audiences for each other too and learnt through sheer observation. My greatest strength as a teacher was tested through e-platforms

and online projects. It all started 20 years back. I designed and presented pre-recorded learning programmes that gradually became a part of the daily lives of millions across the globe. Learnkathakonline in English and kathakshikshaonline in Hindi are some of the tools accessible to every dance enthusiast. My day starts with answering queries that come from almost every part of our world. I get to see their world through their questions that soon turn into conversations on YouTube and from hundreds we end up talking to millions. To me this is equality and diversity.

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Classical Indian Dance ~ continued

“I started dancing at three but could not continue. In 2017 when I lost my father, I nearly hit a depression. Family pushed me to do something I loved. I had heard about Guru Pali Chandra and had seen many of her videos, so joined nervously. It been an uphill journey since then. Not just as a dancer but also as a human being as well. I have moved from a dark corner in my life to a lot of light.” Shraddha Mukul, age 32, Marketing Manager at Sennheiser Middle East

“When you are given an opportunity to live your dream with no discrimination, life becomes a smile. I live dance. I am learning to become a dancer teacher. I aim to pass on this knowledge to every aspiring dancer.” Dhanashree Shingare, age 43, Assistant Dance Instructor at Gurukul


Above Dancers of Gurukul Studios

Some comments from the Gurukul student community

me to be comfortable being on my own in a completely foreign setting.”

“The idea of change and settling into a new culture is usually daunting, but what makes it easier is the plethora of experiences that back you. Last year, I shifted to Canada to pursue further education. Given that Kathak at Gurukul has been a major part of my life, the experiences of performing at the Dubai Airport in front of people from different communities, interacting with dancers from different genres, impromptu footwork sessions at the subway stations in London, and much more helped me lose my inhibitions and embrace people of diverse communities. Dance helped me both psychologically and literally as certification through the Society gave my application a certain edge in terms of credits. Along with my apparel and traveling essentials, I brought my dance along with me to Canada. However, this time it was slightly different – I was now an independent dancer who had to motivate herself to wake up early and do riyaaz in the basketball court. I am grateful for these experiences with Gurukul as it allowed

Avani Samyani, age 18, student at Western University

Our adult dance education programmes are our fastest growing project “Dancing in Gurukul is a way of life for me! It has empowered me to break free of my inhibitions and lead a much fuller life. I experience happiness which cannot be described in words!” Manju Karani, age 67, Homemaker

“From an early age of 15 dance lured me but responsibilities kept me apart from my passion. Little did I know that my love for dance would rekindle at the age of 56! My own stamina and ability to learn dance surprised me. Certainly, the credit goes to the teachers at Gurukul because they broke the stigma of age. I now perform for various international dance festivals in Bangkok, India and Dubai. As a Gurukul dancer I celebrate dance.” Poonam Soni, age 56, Homemaker

Dance is a form of expression of one’s feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Stories from past, present and future are somehow similar in every civilization and therefore universally acceptable. Dance is to be free from religious, racial discrimination or monoculturalism. The United Nations has given us 17 sustainable development goals of which the fourth goal, quality education is of vital importance to us at Gurukul. We align this UN goal to every other country’s national developmental programme. For example, in India, we align it to the Indian National Education Policy 2020 NEP2020. This helps us to focus on maintaining quality through our belief in equality and diversity.

i Pali Chandra is Artistic Director, Digital Dance Educator and Mentor at Gurukul Studios International, Dubai, Bangalore, Switzerland.

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Contemporary Dance Spotlight on opportunity Four contemporary dancers give their inspiring perspectives on the range of opportunity within the contemporary dance sector ROCIO CHACON

Annie Edwards Annie is a contemporary and hip hop dance artist from Brighton. She has worked with companies and artists such as ZooNation: A Kate Prince Company, Candoco Dance Company, Le Compagnie Guetteur, Botis Seva and more. She is driven by social justice and activism is at the core of her work. Annie’s story My journey through dance has been both traditional and untraditional. Traditional in the sense that I started from a young age, attended a local dance school, studied dance at college, joined various youth companies and ended up in a conservatoire. When considering dance as a career, this is usually the kind of path that is presented to you as the right and most successful one. However, my experience was also very untraditional because, as a disabled person, I was entering into spaces that had never considered or valued a body like mine. My dance journey has very often operated in between spaces of liberation, exclusion and creating something altogether new.

Left Annie Edwards 50 Dance | Issue 491

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Michaela Ellis Artistic Projects Manager

I began dancing when I was seven at the dance school where I lived in Peacehaven. I did everything they had to offer; ballet, disco, Latin and ballroom, line, street, and entered into various competitions with my brother, Isaac. After getting a small role in ZooNation’s West End dance show Into the Hoods, my brother and I both joined the youth company and began training in hip hop every weekend in London. As a company we all became close friends and developed very special relationships. We had lots of performance opportunities and high levels of dance training, so I felt fulfilled and nourished by dance as a young person. It was particularly important to me as I was also going through a painful process of discovering how my disability was perceived by society and starting to encounter barriers, therefore ZooNation Youth became quite the refuge for me. I danced there for around 10 years. When I got to sixth form college, I wanted to take dance as one of my A-levels but found that the syllabus was contemporary technique. I had lots of anxiety and a sudden lack of confidence in my abilities, as I had no perceived “technical” training, and believed that I wasn’t suited to this style. Nevertheless, I continued with it, and found a whole new way of moving and understanding of dance. I joined the National Youth Dance Company where I worked with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and a large group of new people. This experience gave me a very exciting taste of dance at a professional level and confirmed for me that it was what I wanted to do as a career. With this in mind, I applied for the BA course at the London Contemporary Dance School and, after a gap year, studied there for three years. My time at the school enriched me not only as an artist, but also as an activist and ally. I became particularly passionate about disability representation and access when writing my dissertation, and this connected me to many of the artists that I work with and admire today. I think that following my anger and desire for justice has unexpectedly led

me into spaces that excite and interest me. Since graduating and working on various professional projects, I now feel a very strong sense of purpose and empowerment in my dancing. Carving a path through dance with a disability is frustrating and painful. It has also been extremely rewarding and I look forward to continuing for as long as I can.

Chris Havell Chris is a dancer with the Company of Elders, a group of 20 nonprofessional dancers who rehearse with a renowned choreographer every week at Sadler’s Wells to make new work for public performances that can happen locally, nationally or internationally. The company welcomes diversity in age, ethnicity and gender and has recently worked with choreographers in dance forms such as Congolese rumba, hip hop, tap, bharatanatyam, contemporary and more. The company celebrates the joy that dance performance can bring to older adults and presents inclusive work that reflects the audiences Sadler’s Wells serves, particularly in the theatre’s surrounding boroughs. JOHAN PERSSON

Above Chris Havell

Chris’s story To discover the joy of dance late in life has been totally unexpected. When my wife and I retired we began ballroom

dancing lessons at a centre for over 50s in Islington. It was there I attended a workshop on creative dance led by Simona Scotto, the Rehearsal Director of the Company of Elders based at Sadler’s Wells. In that session we were encouraged to respond in movement to a range of images and I was intrigued how much could be conveyed by untrained elderly bodies. I wanted to explore more of these movement experiences and took up Simona’s offer to join a Company of Elders’ workshop. At one point we were invited to respond to the music in any part of the studio and I rolled around the floor in a fairly uncontrolled way but relishing the opportunity to move in ways I hadn’t done in years. I was hooked and pleased to be invited to join the other 20 members of the Company. Many workshops, rehearsals and performances later I am still fascinated by how expressive a body can be. Looking around the dance studio I am often in awe of the quality of movement being achieved, its economy and expressiveness. In our sessions I sometimes forget I am living in a body that creaks more and more and, fleetingly, experience memories of what it was like to move as my younger self. The most challenging aspect of my dance experience has been to learn performance skills. The disciplines of working as an ensemble, the memorising and internalising of long sequences of movements, and coping with the physical demands of rehearsals, have all been difficult at times. There is, however, a strong supportive social dimension to being in a group with such a clear focus, which is reinforced by the care and support from the management at Sadler’s Wells. I have a strong sense that our achievements do contribute to what Sadler’s Wells stands for in the world of professional dance. Soon my time in the Company of Elders will end and the challenge then will be to find a way of continuing my journey in dance.

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Contemporary ~ continued


There are differences that have to be recognised within dance education and the industry, such as skin coloured ballet shoes and ballet tights, different hair types, different body types and different cultures.

Sharia Johnson Sharia Johnson is a freelance performer who was born in London. She trained at The BRIT school before graduating from Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Sharia started her professional career touring nationally and internationally with INALA in 2015, and later went on to do an apprenticeship with Richard Alston Dance Company, following on to dance for Michael Clark Company, Rambert, Julie Cunningham & Company and most recently Company Wayne McGregor. Sharia’s story I have been dancing since I was 4 and attended a local dance school in Crystal Palace called L’Danza until I was 12. It was quite casual, I practised ballet, tap and disco. My passion for dance grew during this time, so I investigated, and came across BRIT Kids. It’s here that I started my Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing syllabus training in Jazz, whilst continuing my other technique classes elsewhere, and I remember loving the syllabus. At 14, I auditioned for The Brit School and was successful. The dance training and teachers are at an extremely high level and I was pushed out of my comfort zone. Alongside my GCSEs, BTECs and A levels I completed the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing’s examinations in ballet, tap and modern whilst also training on the Centre of Advanced Training (CAT scheme) at The Place on Saturdays and one evening a week. I would say I enjoyed the Society’s modern dance syllabus most of all the examinations I was taking and this led me nicely into practising contemporary technique. The Society is acknowledged highly within dance education and I felt that having these qualifications supported the training for my chosen career. As a young black girl, I believed it was essential to ‘prove’ myself in a more predominant

way than other students when applying to vocational schools. I was fortunate enough to have the support from my parents in enabling me to complete my examinations with the Society. It was not cheap, and it was time consuming for my parents, but I found it extremely beneficial when applying to Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance to show the level of my ballet and modern training. The Society gave me a sense of security that some people didn’t have and I felt like I had an advantage having completed these examinations. It was lonely, I have always been different, I have always been ‘the black girl’ because most of time there was only ever one. This stretches into my professional career also. I decided to go to Rambert School to pursue a career in contemporary dance because it resonated with me most. I watched Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in my early years at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London and it brought me to tears. To see those beautiful dancers and role models in London was a rarity for me and extremely inspiring! I was the only black female student in my year and it put a lot of pressure on me to evolve in a particular way, in a way that the stereotype of a black girl should evolve. There are differences that have to be recognised within dance education and the industry, such as skin coloured ballet shoes and ballet tights, different hair types, different body types and different cultures. It is extremely exciting that the Society has a dedicated contemporary syllabus created by the wonderful Dr Ross Mckim who was my principle at Rambert School. This is going to be such an asset for the next generation of young dancers training through the Society. It is technically mature, pure and wonderful to indulge in, and I believe that it is a welcome addition to the current genres within the syllabi. My parents have always been incredibly supportive of me pursuing

Above Sharia Johnson

a dance career. However, they also felt the lack of representation on many occasions caused concern, as if I were fighting for a lost cause, something that is not suitable for a dark-skinned black girl to pursue. It is very necessary for me to emphasise dark skin, as colourism is a problem as much as racism. My mum tells me stories of being the only black parents in the audience at performances and competitions when I was young. She would laugh with nerves in case I froze on stage because everybody would know I was her daughter. My mother would also send letters to dance shops in London expressing disappointment and concern with the lack of diverse skin coloured dance wear. Now the black, Asian and minority ethnic networks have become more prominent, it has highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion. The dance industry has been a part of most of my life and I am yet to see the drastic changes that must happen for future generations. I wore pink ballet shoes and tights throughout my dance examinations and nobody questioned how that would make me feel as a child with brown skin. As I have grown older, I have understood that the syllabi can be financially inaccessible for many people of colour. The lack of exposure of black artists leaves parents feeling this career is unattainable for black people. I have been fortunate to receive my training and therefore my career and I am so grateful. I had incredible opportunities and I have had the pleasure of working with amazing artists.

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Laura Jones Laura is Head of Talent Development at Stopgap Dance Company, which creates exhilarating dance productions for national and international touring. The Company employs disabled and non-disabled artists who find innovative ways to collaborate and make discoveries about integrating disabled and nondisabled people through dance. Laura’s story I’ve always loved dance and one of my earliest memories is being at a dance class. I started dancing from an early age, first with my parents on the folk scene, immersed in barn dances, folk dance festivals and Morris dancing, following the cliché of dancing before I could walk. Then, aged five, I started ballet, modern and then tap classes. Fairly early on I decided I wanted a career in dance. At the time, my idea of success was going to dance vocational college and then getting a job as a dancer on a cruise ship, a backing dancer or similar. However, at the age of 16, one week into my A level dance course, I had a spinal bleed that left me paralysed from the chest down. I spent a year in hospital for recovery and rehabilitation, and now use a wheelchair. I honestly thought that that was the end of my dream to be a dancer. However, Vicky and Gail, my A level tutors were so supportive, they encouraged me back, and together we figured out a way to make it work. I also attended dance workshops with CandoCo, and met Vicki Balaam, the then Artistic Director of Stopgap Dance Company and went to some of their workshops. These helped reignite the desire to pursue a career in dance. Towards the end of my A level course, I looked into the possibility of going on to study dance at university, but I couldn’t find the right combination of an accessible campus, accessible course and quality student support. So, I decided to take a year out and see what

other things were available. Amazingly, the summer I completed my A levels, Stopgap received funding to employ two new dancers. I auditioned and, thankfully, got the job – this was back in 2001. At the time I joined, Stopgap was still an emerging company, finding its feet and developing its inclusive practice. This gave me the opportunity to grow and develop alongside the company. There were times when I felt that I had missed out by not going to university or vocational college, to gain a more indepth knowledge of dance, and context. However, what I did gain was an in-depth understanding of my own body, the ability to challenge myself, and the drive to share that knowledge with others. I find it frustrating that it was 20 years ago that I took my A level in dance, becoming the first wheelchair user to complete 100% of the course, and yet today there are still young aspiring dancers who are struggling to get formal training because the mainstream training and exams are not accessible for them. It makes me realise how far we still need to go to change attitudes and infrastructure. I feel the industry is missing out so much by still excluding students due to disability. I know that, as a disabled dancer, the discoveries I made about dance and the potential my body has, made me more in tune with my body, able to solve problems and that sometimes frustrations with limitations can lead to

Above Artificial Things by Stopgap Dance Company

creative highlights. I also know that my inclusive practice and development of teaching in an inclusive setting has made me an overall better, more responsive, curious and creative teacher. Skills that are vital in my current role of Head of Talent Development at Stopgap. During these recent challenging times, when many of us have been stuck at home, we have taken the opportunity at Stopgap to revaluate and redefine our outreach. As part of our commitment to enable inclusion for dancers of different backgrounds, experience and abilities, Stopgap has developed its Home Practice programme. This is a growing YouTube playlist of online classes and workshops, which dissects, demystifies and develops dance practice for individuals, particularly those who may ordinarily face barriers to accessing dance training for whatever reason. I hope that it inspires and invigorates the next generation of diverse dance talent.

I feel the industry is missing out so much by still excluding students due to disability

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Disco, Freestyle, Rock n Roll and Street Everyone welcome Registered teacher Joanna Bevan looks at how to include dancers with additional needs in class STEVE CULLEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Dancing has never been more accessible with an increasing range of styles and opportunities on offer. However, how does this apply to someone who has additional needs? The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing prides itself on the accessibility of its services for all participants, but how does this work practically in studios? Let me tell you about my experience. Meet Georgia. At 18 months old Georgia contracted bacterial meningitis. Despite facing the worst, she fortunately recovered from the illness, apart from one thing; it robbed her of her hearing. As a toddler Georgia loved to dance but following meningitis doctors warned she would “never be able to…”. Georgia started lessons with me in pre-school and when I heard her story I thought: “Just watch us!” Fast forward 11 years. Georgia is now a confident dancer who is working through Society exam system and attends competitions. Things haven’t always been easy. We’ve faced hiccups, but our joint determination (and stubbornness) has helped to take her on a dancing journey that some people never thought possible.

Left and above Georgia rehearsing her freestyle technique for competitions and examinations Right Georgia enjoying dance from an early age and cheering on her friends at a competition 54 Dance | Issue 491

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Amanda Tapp Head of Faculty Development for Disco, Freestyle, Rock’n’Roll and Street

This experience made me reflect on the way I taught and what adaptations I used to make her experience positive: • When you have an additional needs dancer, meet with the parents. Remember this child is not different, they are amazing. You need to be fully briefed on what to expect and how to help. • Review your music choices. Whilst Georgia was fortunate to have a cochlear implant fitted to her left ear, she is unable to hear music without distortion. Therefore, I choose tracks with a clear beat and fewer lyrics.· Introduce a buddying system in class with an older dancer. Some of the most beautiful and respected friendships were formed through this. • Don’t be frightened to explore other tempos or styles. The use of slow lyrical gives more time to react, and for those with cognitive speed issues, changes of tempo can be incredibly useful. • Make full use of the medal test structure. One-dance tests are great for confidence-building. Also, in freestyle exams, consider partner-work. For any dancer, the partnership can bring confidence and enjoyment. • Use the Application for Reasonable Adjustments (ARA) service. We owe it to our dancers to provide them with the best opportunity to succeed. • Speak to your examiner in advance. I ask them to ensure Georgia is making eye contact, to enable lip-reading. Above all, I truly believe that dancing must be fun! A dancer’s journey is not a race to see how quickly they can spin or how high they can kick. Their experience of dance is a window of time to develop and achieve goals that are relevant to them, in a time that is right for each individual. So, the next time you hear that someone “can’t” do something for ANY reason, maybe it could mean they “can’t do it yet”, but with your support they soon will!

The new normal Solo Rock n Roll examinations update Last year was one of the strangest years for all of us. We hope that you are adjusting to the ‘new normal’ and I know many of you seized every opportunity to get back into your studios before we went back into lockdown. Alongside the other dancesport genres, the opportunity to continue training your pupils in partner dancing (without a partner) is here! Teachers can now enter their pupils for Solo Rock n Roll examinations. The syllabus criteria and expectations are the same. So, what are we looking for and how can we achieve this? It is time to refresh your knowledge on the Rock n Roll syllabus. We all become complacent, especially if we have been teaching for many years. Take some time to re-read the syllabus and be happy that you are aware of the expectations for each level. For example, in Under 8, the examiner is looking for “lively movement” and the “beginnings of timing awareness”. For Rock n Roll currently and at this level, you could create a routine demonstrating a basic action, hand jive and use some of the syllabus “steps and movements”. As previously, a marker is acceptable, so, ensure that your choreography is suitable for the candidate to see you clearly, with social distancing. As we move into the technical examinations (Bronze, Silver, Gold), the candidate will be expected to dance suitable syllabus figures either as a leader or a follower. Dancing these figures solo is a great way to ensure technical accuracy and excellent timing awareness. Ensure the arm lines and shaping are correct, as per the figure, the amount of turn is accurate, and the basic actions are demonstrated with good tone and a neat foot action. It should be clear of the positioning of the absent partner and the technique of both leads and follows should be demonstrated with musicality and focus. For Gold Star and above, the candidate should be demonstrating the routine solo again as either a leader or follower, ensuring the set figures for each Gold Star level are danced at the beginning of the routine, namely: Gold Star 1: Windmill Throwaway, Push Spins to Right and Left (from hands) and Sliding Doors – no.2 Gold Star 2: Arm Rolls – no. 2 and Umbrella Gold Star 3: Side by Side Basics with a choice of two compatible systems We wish you and your pupils lots of luck in preparing for the solo examinations. Dance | Issue 491 55

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Disco, Freestyle, Rock n Roll and Street ~ continued

Left to right Gift Ndzi, Michelle Arnell, Simo Ndzi and Ernestine Ndzi

I want to encourage more ethnic minority parents to leave the fear of racial discrimination and allow their children to explore their talent because the schools are truly inclusive

Street dance in the community Ernestine Ndzi reflects on her family’s experience of coming to the UK from Cameroon and integrating into local dancesport classes Growing up in Cameroon, dancing was something that we do for fun while playing with friends. Moving to the UK, I realised that there is more to dancing than I thought. I had my two daughters here in the UK. However, my first daughter was an extreme introvert when she started school and I was looking for activities that would help build her confidence and allow her to express herself and socialise. I tried many activities, but none worked, until I tried dancing. Making the decision to enrol my daughter for dancing was difficult because I found out from my research that dance activities were heavily white dominated. Having suffered racial discrimination myself, I was really concerned because the dance school (Surrender Dance Academy) I was considering had two mixed race children and the rest all white. However, I decided to give it a try and I contacted the principle of the school (Michelle Arnell). I remember the day I took my daughter to dance for a trial, as soon as we walked into the hall, we were immediately greeted warmly by Michelle. I was so nervous because I did not know

whether my daughter would settle and make friends, and whether the other mums would accept me. My daughter refused to join the class, but Michelle came to talk to her so many times and finally convinced her to participate. As timid as she was, other kids started coming close to her and talking to her and before I knew it, she had made so many friends. Not only was the teacher warm and welcoming, the mums were friendly and encouraging and asked me to let my daughter join the competition class. Before I knew it, I made a family with the dance school and my daughter started excelling in dance exams and competitions. Since then, my daughters and I have danced with Dance Beat and now with Dance Addicks. I am proud to say that I have a family with three Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing schools and whenever all three schools meet at a competition, I feel like I am having a massive family day out characterised with so much laughter and hugs. I have never looked back on the decision for my daughters to take the Society’s DFR classes. The friendliness

and encouragement from the dance teachers got me into dancing and even taking part in competitions and dance shows. This would never have happened if not for how inclusive the schools were. Watching how far my daughters have come is simply unbelievable. I cannot put it into words how I feel. Many thanks go to Michelle Arnell who laid the foundation, Jessica Ward (Dance Beat) who made me achieve what I could only imagine, Liz Young (Dance Addicks) who is currently making sure the girls continue doing what they love best, and the Society DFR for having such quality dance schools. I want to encourage more ethnic minority parents to leave the fear of racial discrimination and allow their children to explore their talent because the schools are truly inclusive. I took that step many years ago and I have not regretted it.

56 Dance | Issue 491

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Imperial Classical Ballet Ballet beyond boundaries Artistic Director of the Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet, Yana Lewis, looks at how to make classical ballet meaningful for her students in Bangalore, India Bangalore is a south Indian city with a rich cultural heritage. Considered the IT capital of India, its multiculturalism ensures that traditional arts blend seamlessly with modern influences. Indian classical dance and Carnatic music form part of the culture here in South India. The Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet, with studios across Bangalore, expanded from workshops and small classes taught by one teacher, into a ballet school of 1000 students and three Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing teachers and visiting faculty over the course of 20 years. Initially, the ballet costumes and music were the attraction for many students who were not yet familiar with the art form. In an effort to spread awareness about ballet, we began to perform on national TV, at award ceremonies and cultural events. Over the last two decades, classical ballet has earned its place as a respected form of classical dance in Bangalore. At the heart of the Foundation’s ethos is the belief that dance is for everyone, regardless of cultural or socioeconomic background. Our vision is to inspire students to dare to dream, imagine and aspire to be more than society dictates. We contribute workshops for various Left Students of the Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet 58 Dance | Issue 491

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Pippa Cobbing Head of Faculty Development for Imperial Classical Ballet, Greek and National

Dance is for everyone Registered teacher, Sarah Wilkins gives her perspective on teaching her son, who has Achondroplasia, to dance

Left to right: Students of the Lewis Foundation of Classical Ballet

outreach programmes at schools that are run by non-profit trusts. We have followed the progress of children throughout these schools with weekly ballet classes and observed its influence on their self-esteem, self-respect, confidence and respect for others. Talented, driven students from our outreach programmes are offered scholarships that include dance clothes, transport expenses to the dance studio, and all tuition fees, costumes and exam expenses. During our eight months of ongoing lockdown, we initially sent our students weekly recorded class videos. We soon realised that the pandemic was not going to end abruptly, and we quickly transitioned to Zoom classes. All three teachers now teach simultaneously to a full timetable on Zoom. As teachers, we have had a great time teaching our younger students, as it gives us a chance to perform and entertain them every week with our creative use of props from home! Without the opportunity of going on summer holiday this year, we had our preprimaries bring buckets, spades, sunhats, sunglasses and rubber rings to class for a ballet beach party. We have observed that our students’ relationship with ballet has become more poignant than before. It is a source of pride for us when students from outreach decide to make dance a part of their future. One of our outreach students is studying

contemporary dance at the Contemporary School of Hamburg, and another is fully employed with the foundation and studying to be an Imperial Classical Ballet teacher. It brings our work full circle as they will work with the next generation of Indian dancers. With dancers from a vast diversity of backgrounds, we find ourselves with an inclusive community of not just students, but families from across Bangalore who do not distinguish between social status but are united through their appreciation of ballet.

Our vision is to inspire students to dare to dream, imagine and aspire to be more than society dictates

Dance is for everyone and no one should be excluded whatever their disability. I am a mother and teacher of a young person who has Achondroplasia (dwarfism). My son started class, aged 3 and is still dancing today, now aged 30. Ben was always a lot smaller than his classmates but this never stopped him. He took Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing exams from Primary to Advanced 2 Tap (Distinction). We found ways of overcoming his problems by talking to him to find the best way of doing things. For example, abdominal exercises in Modern Theatre syllabi caused problems: due to short leg length and long spine he was unable to sit from a lying position, so we therefore had someone hold his feet. In Ballet, he could not reach the barre, so he held the back of a chair. These problems were easily overcome to enable him to spend many happy hours dancing with his friends and achieving. However, sadly this is not always the case. I have been told of a young girl who was told by a dance teacher that she could not take ballet classes as it would be “too hard for her”. A young man, who suffered from shin splints as a child was not allowed to wear cushioned jazz shoes and another young man was not able to “slightly” adapt a set dance and therefore the teacher said he could not take that exam. No child should be excluded and if there is a way to adapt the exercises, I strongly advise the teacher to “talk”. In my experience, the young person will come up with a way round their own personal problems. Talk to the Society, and together a way can be found to allow each person to reach their full potential, enjoy their time in dance classes and be treated equally.

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Imperial Classical Ballet ~ continued

Above Sarah Wilkins’ son Ben in dance class (see article on previous page) Left David at the Academy of Dance in Bari, Italy

Courage, perseverance and self-belief Registered dance teachers in Italy, Cheryl Gill and Diane Durant, share their perspectives on teaching David, who has Down’s Syndrome Cheryl’s story Not only am I one of David’s teachers at the Academy of Dance in Bari, Italy – I am also David’s mum. As a child David often enjoyed watching lessons and show rehearsals, especially when his close family friends were dancing. David has a cheerful, friendly but strong personality. Due to his kind nature he was able to mix easily with most children. However, he did have a problem understanding how much affection he was able to show and give, and although this was not an issue with older students or those who knew him well, it could be for children who saw him less frequently. During his second year at dance school David helped assist the children in a Pre-Primary open class. This was a massive challenge for him. All of a sudden he was an “older” David, with a huge responsibility, and he realised he could only touch gently or maybe not at all. The children completely accepted him. I personally, as his mum, found this such a big step for him and for all involved. There were reasons why David waited until he was 14 to train. Although he was in class with younger children

he knew that he was older and had to behave with respect and discipline. This, in time, he accomplished more and more and was able to organise himself between classes, during rehearsals and even backstage in the theatre. He soon became more aware of his body and how he was developing muscle strength. His doctors also began to notice physically how his body and posture was improving. His “strong point” you could say were his loose ligaments and the facility this gave him. However, he had low muscle tone and tended to be overweight as many people with Down’s Syndrome are . Working with a sound dance training has enabled him to achieve a physique that I never thought possible. Of course, he always has to be careful of his weight but he also understands what he needs to eat and how to control his daily diet. David’s love, passion and determination is recognised by all who know him and even those he has never met. He is proof that great things can be achieved with courage, perseverance and self-belief.

Diane’s story Teaching David is a very positive experience. I realised it was very important to treat David as I would any other pupil, which made him feel part of the class. During the 15 years I have taught him we have developed a wonderful relationship. I am his teacher and he always respects this, but I am also his friend and someone he feels happy to be with. David’s goal was to be able to take an exam “like everyone else” and together with two children from his class we entered him for his Grade 2 ballet. The moment he ran through the door I knew we had done the right thing; it was a very emotional moment. He continued taking his class exams with me present, as this gave him more security. The examiners were so understanding and gave merit to David where possible. There wasn’t one exam where I came out dry eyed. Definitely an experience to cherish.

I realised it was very important to treat David as I would any other pupil, which made him feel part of the class

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We are all the future Registered classical ballet teacher Lana Williams gives her perspective as a woman of colour

Above Lana Williams My heart sinks when I hear my beautiful eight-year-old niece wants to quit ballet. Why? “The girls call me names and laugh at my skin colour.” Already she has decided there is no space for black girls in ballet. Her teacher can only offer an embarrassed apology. Ask yourself if my niece would feel included in your school? How can we make sure we don’t lose any more talented young black dancers? Today is an exciting day for me as a ballet teacher. I will, for the first time, be modelling the new range of skin tone ballet tights and shoes in my classes. Individuality in dance is today’s theme. Promoting the diversity of all dancers. Students have permission to wear free uniform and hair in an ‘off-the-face’ style of their choice. Often resulting in a wonderful, mind-boggling, array of coloured leotards and hair accessories. A visual representation that whilst being the same we are all different, and thus valued for our uniqueness in my class. It has taken until 2020 for skin coloured ballet tights and shoes to be formally accepted as uniform within the major UK ballet organisations. Whilst I

applaud the change, I question why this has taken so long? When you consider Britain’s first black dance company was founded in 1946 by Jamaican dancers Berto Pasuka and Richard Riley, 74 years is a long time to wait for such crucial progress. I ask, what effect has this, and other representations of colour, had on diversity in the UK ballet scene? I believe black and brown students should be seen, represented and empowered within dance. Being a mixed raced, Jamaican/ English woman in the industry, perhaps I have an advantage when approaching matters of race and diversity. Firstly, I am seen by students, parents, visitors. There is a saying “you have to see it to be it”. Secondly, I feel confident talking openly with my students about these issues. Based on my own experiences,

Teachers are role models who ought to be teaching more than just their subject, empowering students to deal with life’s challenges

my black students are offered the advice and support I wished I’d had as a young dancer. I am aware some teachers are risk averse to such conversations, scared to mention matters of colour and difference. I have three words – Get. Over. It. • Deal with your own discomfort. Continue to improve your own self awareness and education on the subject of racial diversity/ inclusivity within dance. • Change comes gradually. One lesson will not have a great impact but by using the history of black dancers and emphasising that our art form is for everyone, you should slowly see an alteration in attitudes. Understand that this is not a oneoff conversation with students. • Teachers are role models who ought to be teaching more than just their subject, empowering students to deal with life’s challenges. I try to empower all body types, not just the typical aesthetic of the ‘preferred’ ballet body. I openly show appreciation to my students who have heavy set, muscular thighs and flat feet for the power they can often create. The athleticism of bodies that allow me to choreograph innovative and wonderful contemporary pieces. The range of skin tones that allow me to challenge, through costumes, performance and roles, the stereotypes of classical ballet. I challenge the implicit bias and racial stereotype that ballet is often deemed to have. Every student must feel comfortable with who they are. I am privileged to teach the incredible discipline and beautiful art form that is ballet. Just because its history has been steeped in white aestheticism does not mean that its future has to be. We are the future. Dance | Issue 491 61

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Latin American and Modern Ballroom Am I leading or following? Publicity Secretary for the UK Equality Dance Council (UKEDC), Pete Meager, shares his perspective Pete’s perspective on diversity in dance and the concept of equality dancing comes from his role on the UKEDC but also from his own personal experience as a registered Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing dance teacher. What is ‘equality dancing’ and where is its place in our dance community? Historically this is rooted in the LGBTQI+ community where many individuals as well as national organisations like the UK Equality Dance Council (formerly UK Same Sex Dance Council) have campaigned to be accepted as same sex couples both at a social and competitive level. However, ‘same-sex dancing’ is nothing new, with it being deeply rooted in history through how the Argentine Tango started in South America with two men dancing together, only later to become more widely a male and female orientated dance partnership – we still have a lot to learn from our forefathers

(and mothers) of dance. We also saw many women dancing together during as well as post war with the lack of men to socially dance with, it soon became widely acceptable for women to dance both as a leader and a follower, even as far as recognising national women’s categories in large UK competitions. So really this begs the question, why can’t it be widely accepted that gender should no longer play a part in our partnership composition on the dance floor, whether you identify as a man, a woman, or non-binary does it really matter? Shouldn’t we all just be dancing as leaders and followers irrelevant of our age, gender and ability. Although the LGBTQI+ community very much started this campaign, why does it even have to be associated with sexuality? It’s true we create dynamics and tell stories on the dance floor but that doesn’t mean we have to be attracted to a particular sex to create that. Is this just about same-sex dancing? It’s great in today’s society to see women leading men, so this isn’t wholly about just profiling same-sex partnerships. We are also championing men following and putting aside the

misconception that leaders have to be strong and masculine, or that followers are feminine and arguably passive. I think we can all describe dancers we know who confidently like to ‘back-lead’ as a follower! For me personally leading and following is about a language, an interaction, a constantly developing action and reaction that requires both dancers to be able to subtly communicate and respond using the connection between each other. We should as dancers, be encouraged to hone our skills in both roles, understand the strengths and challenges of what we do on the dance floor in order to deepen that connection. We really need to ask ourselves the question, why are we so outdated when it comes to attributing a gender within dance? Would it be accepted in any other profession? What opportunities are there to embrace it and how can you get involved? The pace at which this becomes the norm relies very much on how much effort we put in as teachers, examiners, dancers and competition organisers in encouraging each other to accept diversity on the dance floor. It’s much easier for us

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Malcolm Hill Head of Faculty Development for Latin American, Ballroom, Sequence and

to sit back and wait to see what happens, potentially let others be the mavericks in changing the way we help others express themselves, but I would challenge you all to take the ‘lead’ in making it accessible and approachable to anyone who steps through our studio doors. Positive steps forward We were extremely pleased to see that the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing has become a front runner in its approach to removing gender roles from its forthcoming update on the Samba technique book, providing training to guide and educate teachers to use the terms ‘Leader” and ‘Follower’ rather than ‘Man’ and ‘Lady’. Whilst this might seem to be purely semantics, it actually means a whole lot more. It is indeed a huge step forward for the equality dance movement in showing that dance is for everyone irrelevant of gender and that we actively teach both roles to dancers based on their choice, rather than forcing them to take a gender role. We feel this is just as important in the exam rooms, it’s through the way we teach our students and train our teachers that set the example for future dancers. Soon it will become the norm

to refer to leader and follower, but fundamentally it begins with the way in which we communicate with each other on the dance floor right now, engaging at grassroots level to get the ball rolling for diversity. We are starting to see a wider spectrum of abilities on programmes like Strictly Come Dancing when it comes to age ranges and physical abilities. We have seen paralympians challenge traditional perspectives on what we can do on the dance floor and I can’t wait for the day we see the skills and determination of wheelchair dancing profiled to the same degree. We really need to ensure that the dance floor is for everyone, not just those whom it has been traditionally accessible to. It’s a huge encouragement to see this year the very first female lead in a same-sex pairing purely through someone’s choice of who they want to dance with. But, should they really be any different from any of the other couples? Personally I’d say no, they will be leading and following just like everyone else. Their technique, confidence, musicality and choreography should be judged in exactly the same way. It’s their connection and dynamics

as two dancers that will be scrutinised, not their gender or sexual orientation. Challenges for the future It is still very much the beginning for equality dancing, although a few national organisations are championing diversity training and the ability for both social and competitive dancers to have the same opportunities on the dance floor, we are still quite a long way from this being universally accepted and championed in every single dance arena. Prejudice will always be part of human nature and it is our job to ensure we educate, inform and challenge the way in which we teach right from a very early age. Your young students are the future of diversity on the dance floor, don’t let that go under appreciated. The UKEDC would like to actively encourage dance teachers to teach everyone to specifically lead and follow irrelevant of gender, giving everyone the choice to identify as a dancer, rather than a pre-determined gender role. We have so much to share through dance, let’s make sure we share it out equally. For more information on the UKEDC visit Dance | Issue 491 63

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Latin American and Modern Ballroom ~ continued


Focus On

Teaching all abilities Registered teacher, Roswitha Wetschka gives her perspective on an ‘all-abilitiesbeginners-class’ approach to ballroom and Latin American dance teaching

This article is presenting my concept of how to teach ballroom and Latin American dance classes that aim to be more inclusive for anybody who either feels that they have a hard time with learning dancing (“I have two left feet”) and/or has a health condition or physical or learning disability. Us dance teachers have all developed our methods of how to deal with people who claim to have two left feet as they are inquiring about our dance classes. We know what to say and have our ideas about how to help them in a class to ‘find their right leg’. After all beginners never have it easy, they are usually not immediately ‘able’ to dance and some of our beginners are people who find it very difficult to learn dancing. Usually we don’t give up on them so easily. But have you ever thought of offering an inclusive dance class? Or as a compromise an ‘all abilities forever beginners’ class? The teaching might be very close to your ideas and tricks! Let’s also keep in mind that at some point all of us, including our current students, have or will experience a disabling situation or condition through illness, injury and ageing, so let’s be ready. Now let’s look around and see what we can learn from other inclusive

(dance) teachers and from researchers: Disability Rights UK has put together a comprehensive list of adjustments during exams, depending on which disability or health condition (Disability Rights UK, 2019), while the concept of ‘adapted physical education’ in the US brings many more ideas for teaching movement. The most experience and research with inclusive dancing was made with modern and contemporary: “The current focus in inclusive dance is translation rather than adaptation: where adaptation implies that there is a ‘correct’ way of performing a movement task based on a non-disabled version, translation encourages each dancer to respond to tasks according to their own bodies. The aim is to achieve an equivalent outcome based on understanding of a particular movement principle rather than simply mimicking an aesthetic.” (I. Aujla, 2019, referring to Whatley, S., & Marsh, K. 2017) But what about classes with a traditional syllabus structure like ballet and ballroom/Latin American? Imogen Aujla researched recently for the Society three inclusive classes, whose teachers worked on translating the ballet, the modern or the ballroom/Latin syllabus for disabled young dancers. She found

that: “regardless of genre, teachers needed to break down each exercise to determine its key principles before building up to the final movement goal” (p 3). She found that: “differentiation was crucial and an understanding of each individual dancer ensured this was effective” (p. 3). On the other hand setting high expectations of the dancers was an important mindset for the teachers to motivate the dancers to challenge themselves. And free-flow movement and improvisation offered some relaxing and joyful playtime in between working on the syllabus. (I. Aujla, 2019)

The three pillars of my concept: A Making the bodies move according to the essence of a dance B Adapting the set dance steps to support this essence in the individual body C Translating communication and teaching methods to the abilities and learning styles of the students My concept of inclusive and ‘all abilities beginners’ teaching is focusing on building up from the essence of a dance or a dance

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Above and left Roswitha Wetschka in action

step and on adapting communication and the teaching methods. I’ll use Rhythm Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz and Cha Cha Cha as examples. A Making the bodies move according to the essence of a dance (I see as the essence of ballroom as): a Walking b The Box Step c The Pendulum Swing It can happen that people can walk well (or as well as they can) when they arrive at the dance class, but during learning they somehow seem to have lost that ability. Therefore, I love to start any beginners class with walking along a big circle (forward and backwards) to happy music to make sure that we bring this ability into our dancing. And it relaxes the student nerves, because we have a quick success and fun and we feel as part of a group. For ballroom the walking teaches the Heel lead without making a big fuzz, and any forward or backwards walk of other ballroom dances is prepared in a natural way (like the 1 of Slow or Viennese Waltz). For Latin and Jive it would be just stepping on the spot to music and then slowly moving a bit to the rhythm of music.

Rhythm Foxtrot build up: 1 Walking also leads to the Rhythm Foxtrot if we add some bouncy movement, which I call the ‘Happy Walk’, the essence of the Rhythm Foxtrot. 2 If we walk sidewards (side, close, side, close…), the ‘get-to-your-seat-at-theCinema Step’, slowly first and then quicker, we learn the side wards part of the box step without even mentioning it and are better prepared for Slow Waltz. 3 I like to do this then with Leaders facing outwards and Followers facing the centre of the dance floor, while in double hand hold, moving anticlockwise around the dance floor. The Line of Dance has been experienced and we’re ready for 4 The Rhythm Foxtrot Basic step, first all steps slow, then Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick. B Translating the set dance steps to support this essence in the individual body: a Slow down the quick steps: to achieve the foot pattern first (see Rhythm Foxtrot, all steps slow first)

transfers (See Viennese Waltz. Using a tap without weight as a first valid version, like mentioned in the Society syllabus for the Chasse in Jive and for the Basic movement in Samba) c Reducing the travel distance for the feet (tap without weight beside the other foot without moving side, close) d Reducing the amount of turn or no turn first (often useful for learning news steps which turn, but in Viennese Waltz that’s essential) e Using a sidewards version first (sidewards Viennese Waltz is much easier together with a partner. We lost that version in Syllabus and should bring it back for Beginner and Social dancer). Viennese Waltz build up: 1 Exercise: Everybody in circle, holding the neighbour’s hands and to music we’re swinging the arms forward and backwards (creating the pendulum swing, the essence of Viennese Waltz) 2 We add Right Foot forward and Left Foot backwards with swinging arms

b Reducing the numbers of weight Dance | Issue 491 65

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Latin American and Modern Ballroom ~ continued


Above and right Roswitha Wetschka in action

3 We add Right Foot forward plus tap of other foot without weight, Left Foot backwards plus tap without weight, on 1, 2, (3 no step) to the swinging arms

C Adapting communication and teaching methods to the abilities and learning styles of the students (using Barbe’s VAK model):

4 In 2 facing lines, Leaders and Followers: Sidewards Pendulum: side, tap, side, tap on 1, 2 (3)

a Imagination and emotion (show images, tell stories, recreate the typical atmosphere, make students laugh, engage the students emotionally to create better and more intuitive learning)

5 In Ballroom hold side Pendulum, for some couples forward/ & backwards Pendulum as option, (for some with 3 steps) 6 Later we add turning gradually while swinging forward and backwards, on our own and then with the partner. 7 Later we add optional 2 more weight transfers (that’s then all 3). First we practice stepping fast on the spot on the toes (toes, toes, toes, ….), then during the circle forward and back pendulum swinging exercise we include it as option (1,2,3, forward, toes, toes, 1,2,3, back, toes, toes, ..) 8 Later we roll the Bowling ball forward with the left arm, while doing one step forward with Right Foot and one tap with the Left Foot, creating a swinging of the body side. Creating the turn through the swinging.

b Kinaesthetic/ Tactile learning (feel the rhythm through clapping, stomping, dancing with teacher) c Auditory (hear a certain word pattern describing the steps, the counting of the rhythm) d Visual aids (bean bags or newspaper on the floor, diagrams on the wall, demonstration of steps) e Give space and for different goals, different levels of difficulty for subgroups in group class. Having helpers in the class as buddies. Example: Build up to learn Cha Cha Cha to original Latin American Cha Cha Cha Music: 1 Freestyle dancing to engaging Cha Cha Cha music

2 Express music/drums/ with clapping 3 Express music with steps 4 Learning to clap Rhythm of CCC 5 Learning to step CCC Rhythm on spot 6 The essence of the movement: We travel by aeroplane to a small bar in Cuba and hear the music playing. The story of the birth of Cha Cha Cha, the sound of shuffling feet on the sandy floor of a small bar: (‘ch ch ch’ in the rhythm of the counts ‘4 and 1’ giving this dance the name. 7 Learning the Timestep: 3 steps of Cha Cha Cha Chasse sidewards, then 2 on spot (4+1, 2,3), first all facing the same way, then 2 lines facing each other, one starting with the right foot, one with left foot (Leaders to right, Followers to left) 8 Dancing Timestep with partner in double hand hold. Learning to move connected with a partner9.) Learning the Basic step of Cha Cha Cha: adding the rocking horse movement of the rock steps forward and backwards 10 Learning the New Yorks: all on a line, then two facing lines: Cuban Rock (replace, replace instead of stepping forward into New York) as valid variation.

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Above Para Dance Sport UK

Wheels and heels An introduction to para dance sport from Emma Millward, Head of Para Dance Sport UK The make-up, costumes and heels hit the dance floor ready to begin with a beautiful waltz. The dancers have spent months preparing for this moment, learning the choreography and working on their musicality and floor craft. At first glance, this may look like any Dancesport competition but this is Para Dance Sport, a wheelchair based Paralympic sport working under the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and British Paralympic Association (BPA). Wheelchair dancers (or athletes as they are termed under the sporting model) have taken part in a classification process to ensure a level competitive field and alone, or with their wheelchair (duo) or standing (combi) partners, compete to gain points and podium positions in search of the elusive gold medal, beginning with the conventional 10 Standard and Latin American dances. Following the conventional categories, the mood of the competition changes and the excitement starts to build as the flirty Foxtrot and passionate Paso make way for the freestyle sections of the competition. Under this sport, Freestyle means that it is

literally ‘free of style’ and ballet, hip-hop and contemporary routines compete alongside offering an opportunity to present any preferred style of dance and selection of music and costume. Judged on the overall presentation, expression, difficulty and control, the freestyle section of the competition often offers the highest attraction with spectators and dancers alike crowding to watch the newest presentation and revel at the unique artistic performance and skills. For some, the competitive goal is to move through the levels towards the highest level of international competition and potential selection to represent Great Britain at European or World Championships. For others, the challenge of learning and the benefits of dancing is enough. Rebecca Fowler is an athlete on the talent pathway for the Great Britain National Team and hopes to compete internationally. Rebecca said: “I started learning to dance in 2017 as I was looking for a way to get active after a period of rehab following a deterioration of my MS (multiple sclerosis). Dance has given me a way to express my feelings, complete

my physical therapy and challenges me to improve my technique and control.” Para Dance Sport has something to offer for both dancers and teachers alike. Dancesport or Freestyle teachers can transfer their skills to offer wheelchair based or disability inclusive classes or expand their professional practice through training courses to offer a truly inclusive experience. Trained teachers and coaches can be found around the UK, so both wheelchair users and standing dancers can find a group to get involved in. Many athletes continue the search for their perfect partner to develop their skills alongside and so standing dancers are always warmly welcomed.

i Para Dance UK is the National Governing Body for Para Dance Sport in the UK and a leading provider of Inclusive Dance. For further information and how to get involved visit: Dance | Issue 491 67

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Modern Theatre Making dance accessible for all Registered teacher Sharon Liew reports from Dance Spectrum International, Singapore I graduated from the London College of Dance (United Kingdom) in 1993, and upon returning home to Singapore, my dream and goal was to set up my own dance school where I could impart the love and knowledge of dance to students to the highest possible level, and so Dance Spectrum International (DSI) was born. I worked with a community centre set up and established my school in the suburbs. The main reason for this was to obtain subsidies for dance fees because one of my goals was to make dance classes affordable to more families who otherwise would be unable to afford dance lessons for their children. I also selected the location as I wanted to find talent hidden in the heartlands. I never once imagined that my career plan would involve working with children with special educational needs. DSI organises a biannual fundraising concert where 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales are donated to a selected charity for that year. In 2003, it was purely by chance that I was approached by a student’s mum who asked if I

would be willing to consider donating that year’s proceeds to a new school set up for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She herself had a son who was diagnosed with ASD and was working with a group of ladies who were championing to start a school specially for children with ASD. This how my destiny changed directions and took me on a path in working with very special people. From 2003, I have been a partner and volunteer with the Autism Resource Centre (Singapore) or ARC(S), a nonprofit charity based in Singapore. It was started by a group of professional and parent volunteers dedicated to serving children and adults on the autistic spectrum by helping these individuals lead meaningful and independent lives in society. From that encounter, I was asked to teach dance and movement to children with ASD on a regular basis to help improve their gross and fine motor skills. Prior to this I had not had an encounter with anyone with ASD nor did I even know what autism was all about. While I was willing to try, I had no experience or training with working with

these children other than my teacher training and degree from London College. Exploring together with a few special needs teachers and parents, we put together a simple programme for the classes. Progress was very slow and frustrating and involved a lot of trial and error. But every time we got a small breakthrough, it was celebrated with much laughter and tears of joy. The prevalence of ASD appears to be increasing globally and parents today are becoming more informed about this condition and how behavioral treatment and skills training programmes can reduce difficulties in communication and social behavior. These have a positive impact on the person’s well-being and quality of life. Many parents do anecdotally report that their children with autism enjoy musical activities and show more positive interactions with others through greater eye contact, smiling and speaking after engaging in a dance and music programme. I therefore strongly believe that we as dance practitioners can be core contributors to this dance and movement therapy especially for children with ASD.

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Lisa Harrison-Jones Head of Faculty Development for Modern Theatre and Classical Indian

My philosophy is that kids of all abilities can dance together, whether classical ballet, tap or modern. I am certainly no expert in this field and am still learning new things about this condition every day. Without compromising the safety of every child before me, I try out new activities and communication methods to the best of my ability for each individual child. It is certainly true that: “It takes a village the raise a child.” With the support of ARC and our local government, the first specialised school for autism in Singapore was born. When I started teaching there 17 years ago, the ARC provided me with basic training in dealing with children diagnosed with ASD. I have seen how dance and movement helps and affects SEN children in their behavior, verbal, social and motor skills. I have also attended conferences to learn from experts in the field about developments and provisions for the autism community, including the latest research and global best practices.

All the full-time teachers in my dance school are also expected to attend some basic training on the management of ASD diagnosed children. In addition, I hold regular communication sessions with parents with neurotypical children to help them understand that our standard of work taught in the dance school will not be compromised, as our dance programme delivers the same syllabus and techniques to all the children in the class. We try to seek their understanding and in sharing our vision for the school to be an inclusive one and embracing the diverse community we live in. We also make efforts to explain to all the children that they should not be “frightened of or feel offended by” these new friends with ASD. These new friends are special and need our support and kindness. Dance classes typically already have students with a mix of skills and abilities, so all the children are encouraged to accept each other. Teasing and making fun of each other is not tolerated and instead we foster friendships and acceptance. Children are more open and accepting than we

Above Dance Spectrum International performing group

often give them credit for and most of them do strive to be that “helpful friend”. It was and continues to be a lot of hard work and extremely challenging to get the parents and teachers at the school to align with my vision and extra effort is used in communicating this vision. At our first fund raising concert for the ARC, a video presentation was screened, showing insights of families with ASD children and their challenging family dynamics and struggles with their ASD children. It was very heart-warming, and the collaboration item performed by the children with ASD and our own dancers, touched many hearts in the audience and the reaching of tissues. This first fund-raising concert managed to raise enough money to build a therapy room in the school. This was successful because everyone involved – staff, parents and children were full supportive.

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Modern Theatre ~ continued

Case studies Dance builds resilience and confidence Alief is a 22-year-old student with ASD and moderate intellectual disability. “I enjoy dance so much” Alief tells everyone who is willing to listen. His mother Aini Defahri signed up her 12-year-old son for dance classes as he was clumsy. Clumsiness is a common symptom of autism as sufferers struggle with many simple everyday tasks that require coordination. His lack of fine motor skills and resulting lack of confidence affected his ability to communicate with others. Just walking up on stage to perform took a lot of courage, and today dancing on stage has given him the opportunity to show others what he is capable of, much more than his diagnosis. This has built up his self-confidence, self-esteem, and ability to listen and follow instructions. Today, this young man continues to enjoy lessons and is still performing with the group. Dance improves memory and motor skills Kai Qi is an 11-year-old with Down’s Syndrome. Down’s Syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes developmental and intellectual delays. Common symptoms include physical growth delays, poor muscle tone and delay of both short and long-term memory. Kai Qi loves music and dancing and her mum Sally sent her for dance lessons at age five with the hope that she could improve her posture and motor skills. In the past three years since she started dance classes, Kai Qi’s posture and walking gait have improved tremendously. To help Kai Qi further, she has been

coached to ‘sing aloud’ the dance moves to learn the dance routines. This special method has also helped in her ability to remember facts in school as well. Kai Qi is now preparing for the Grade 3 exams in 2021. Dance gives self-expression and the ability to relate to others Willow is a 9-year-old with nonverbal ASD and moderate intellectual disability. She has selective mutism and refuses to speak with any of her teachers and fellow students since starting school at age five. Dance classes are deliberately kept small for pupils such as Willow and she has benefitted much from this. Willow has also been assigned a ‘buddy’ who is with her all the time. From weekly lessons, she has transitioned to classes three times a week, and by keeping a very structured class format, she has managed to memorize the dance steps, which is a great first step. She enjoys music and movement and through the amazing power of dance, has now decided to speak! For example, when she has successfully performed a routine, she tells herself “good job”. She also relates to her classmates, and points to their French braided hair and says “pretty”. Instead of ignoring everyone and everything happening around her, thanks to experience in her dance classes she has now started to watch and follow what the others are doing. She has even started humming to the music while dancing. The decision and ability to finally speak, make eye contact and answer when spoken to is a tremendous breakthrough for Willow.

I strongly believe that dance and movement can be used as a therapeutic approach that fosters the emotional, cognitive, social, and physical integration in ASD. By itself, dance is just once of the many approaches, but I believe that I have achieved much success mainly because of the great team behind me. My staff are together with me in our joint vision and the parents and students in our school are very patient, understanding, and supportive in all our creative experiments. Because of this great team, our ‘very special kids’ have a supportive, nurturing, and inclusive environment where they feel safe and accepted. They have friends and family who embrace their differences and let them be themselves. They can use dance and creative movement to express themselves where they otherwise would not be unable to do so using more conventional means. Dance works so very well with autistic and intellectually disabled students because in teaching dance you do not always need to use words. Students pay close attention to what the body is doing, and this helps connect specific movements to emotions and emotional responses. Dancing helps students to understand body language and communicate with others, a practice that children will continue to do for the rest of their lives. This practice translates to communication outside the dance classroom – into the academic classroom, into the community and into the world where they must learn to survive and thrive.

i Sharon Liew, AISTD, BA Hons Dance Graduate (from London College of Dance) • Principal of Dance Spectrum Internationa­l Singapore • 25 years teaching ballet, modern and tap in Singapore • 17 years working with Special Education Needs (SEN) children (ages 6–21)

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Diversity and dance in Trinidad and Tobago Registered teacher Sarah Lambert reports from her dance community Trinidad and Tobago has a rich culture that one can see and feel without having to actively seek it out. Both islands of this twin island state are noted for their ethnic, religious and cultural diversity and tolerance, and the country encourages respect of persons regardless of sex, race, ethnicity, religion or disability. This diversity is the result of mixing influences from different ethnic groups, a unique mix of races and cultures that can be traced back to Africa, China, Europe, India and the Middle East. There is a growing mixed race ethnic group, adding further development to our culture. The local dance scene spans ballet, Chutney, classical Indian dance, jazz, modern dance, regional folk dance and

other styles from around the world. Dance schools and semi-professional companies present high-quality shows year-round, while smaller troupes present experimental multi-media productions. Larger companies often put on short annual seasons. From the perspective of a dance studio owner and Society member, our students represent the full ethnic diversity of Trinidad in every class. It would be unusual for this not to be the case. In addition to their ballet, Modern Theatre and Tap classes many students attend one or more of folk, Classical Indian or Latin dance classes on a regular basis. As there are in-school dance contests, national primary and secondary

school dance events and requests for dancers for a variety of community, celebratory and award functions many of our students not only get a chance to perform in our bi-annual school performance but at these contests or events. Each contest or event usually has specific requirements as to the theme, genre or music that must be adhered to. If a dance genre is not specified, we have found that using the Society’s Modern Theatre genre as the base for our choreography, is beneficial as it lends itself to the expressive interpretation of most themes or music required, including our local Soca and Chutney music. Our dancers continue to improve and thrive through these performances and often choreograph on their own, or with assistance, dances for projects at school or religious events. A number of our dancers have also represented Trinidad and Tobago as part of our World Gymnaestrada performance teams over the last 19 years. The ethnic and cultural diversity of Trinidad and Tobago represented in our students has enabled them to appreciate the ability and style of all ethnic groups and how each brings its own gifts to the creation of dance.

Above and left Dancers in Trinidad and Tobago Dance | Issue 491 71

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National Dance Cultural exchange in Japan Registered teacher Lisa Maria Johannsen-Sawamura gives her perspective on teaching national dance at British Ballet Arts in Matsusaka, Japan

I have always been open to new experiences and opportunities and running a dance school in Japan daily provides me with such challenges and insights! The basic cultural differences between the UK and Japan are extremely broad, especially regarding the rules of etiquette, and personal expression of one’s feelings. Historically, Japanese girls appear demure, soft-spoken and shy in nature, these cultural character traits being their particular charm. Applied to the study of national dance then, I find my Japanese students generally very cautious about being demonstrative with their emotions and it is especially challenging for them to perform couple and group dances, since it is not their custom to look the other person in the eyes or to hold hands, especially with their peers! This is a good example of the cultural difference between my students

and I, which we discuss in relation to the varying dances we study. The very boisterous and extrovert style of countries such as Germany, Hungary and Ukraine come less naturally to my students, although ultimately enjoyed with gusto! On the other hand, the demure expression of grace in Japan is imperative when performing the traditional formal dances of Nihon buyo, as danced by maiko and geisha. I found this form of expression particularly difficult when studying Japanese dance myself many years ago – the subtle turn of the head, lowering of the lashes and turned in feet did not feel or look natural on me, because I am not Japanese. I also experienced first-hand how it feels to be the only one in the class who looked different, and the challenge of not being able to understand and communicate easily because of the cultural and language barrier; invaluable lessons for later when teaching multi-racial and culturally diverse classes in the UK and abroad. That said, national dance is a wonderful way to embrace and celebrate people of all races since we experience not only the dances of other countries, but also deepen our understanding and appreciation of those nations’ breadth of culture, habits, history, geography, dress and character, and in turn gain a wider understanding and tolerance of others when we encounter them outside the dance studio. Japan, like Britain, is an island, part of Asia but fundamentally different from its neighbouring countries, and this can be isolating. Of my own students, 99% are Japanese and 90% have never travelled

abroad, or even had much interaction with people of other races and know little about Europe, much as I knew very little about Japan before coming here. Since it is difficult for them to experience the diversity of other cultures here, national dance is a wonderful tool for exploring other parts of the world with my students. Even finding a Swiss cheese, German salami or Welsh love spoon is a major challenge but together with the parents we search for and find such treasures and share them together. We look at the globe and find the countries and marvel at how far away they are, yet brought nearer these days by the Internet, which is invaluable to bridge the gaps in understanding. Thus, we can become more familiar with cultural diversity and develop a greater understanding and respect for others’ traditions, and a curiosity to visit new places. Finally, I have found in my own travels to various countries that joining in a communal folk dance in a social setting, such as a local festival, is a wonderful way to feel accepted and part of a new way of life. As a teenager, I was able to communicate with a group of visiting Spanish students by dancing a spontaneous Sevillanos, and later performing professionally, I was privileged as the only white British non-Hindi dancer in an all-Indian dance ensemble to learn traditional Kathak dance. I believe that it is vital for us to educate our future generation of dancers in as broad a way as possible and national dance is a great starting point to encourage acceptance of cultural and racial diversity from a very young age.

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Pippa Cobbing Head of Faculty Development for Imperial Classical Ballet, Greek and National

Left to right National dance styles: Japanese Ogi fan dance, Israeli ‘Shalom’, Serbian, wearing Opinci shoes, Tunisian, Festival of Eid Al-Fitr, Macedonian Nevastinsko Below: Sri Lankan dancer

International folk dance Registered teacher Tanya Allen finds that world culture and traditions are alive today “The world is your oyster, and every country will be a pearl to you.” When my mother said those words to me many years ago, little did I know what was to come! I started learning national dance with Mr Robert Harrold at the age of 16 and have spent a whole lifetime studying and visiting remote and even dangerous places on my quest to learn about world culture. Mr Harrold regularly kept in contact with me throughout his life and we exchanged 100s of letters, cards and little treasures from all over the world! I have taught all the Society’s national work from Primary to Advanced 2, and Associate level, enjoying every moment. In 1987 one of my pupils asked, “what is Indonesian dance like Miss Tanya? My grandma comes from there, but I don’t know how they dance”. I thought that must be true for many children (including my daughters as my husband is Tunisian and they knew nothing about their father’s culture). So, I decided to hold an international summer school “Around the World in Three Days…” I drew a map and plotted my path jumping from country to country … Literally north, south, east, west. This was what ignited my passion for ‘the whole world’, which I wanted to pass on to my students. Invitations followed to teach on other summer schools and so it snowballed.

My passion did not stop at that as I also started collecting anything cultural from the country I happened to be visiting and studying. I would find out about local legends and history, visit museums and join local groups to learn more about the culture and diversity within that country.

My pupils understand how history, traditions and religion within a country are reflected in the cultural diversity of its folk dance Family holidays were not holidays as far as I was concerned as I would spend every day rushing around trying to search for the museum of ethnography or a local folk group whom I had been put in touch with through contacts. My connections from all over the world began to grow. Meetings were arranged with local group leaders and these would often take place in some very unusual and remote places. My knowledge has grown beyond what I would have ever imagined, and my pupils understand how history, traditions and religion within a country are reflected in the cultural diversity of its folk dance. I have created and recreated traditional dances from unusual countries

such as Mongolia, Thailand and Indonesia, also sacred dances and even an African monkey warrior dance in which my ‘monkey tailed skirt’ was worn to create the appearance of a Tarantula! My students, regardless of race, colour or ethnic background, embrace ALL the world, which to me is the heartbeat that will keep our traditions and cultures alive. Passing this ‘pearl’ of knowledge onto future generations, will give the gift of passion, understanding and respect for each other’s culture. So we will never lose the diversity of world culture and can purely embrace, unified through our love of dance, the love of all mankind.

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Sequence Dance Meet the new committee Get to know your new Sequence Faculty committee for 2020–2023 Louise Aldred Louise started dancing at the age of three, working her way through the medal test system at her mother’s dance school in Nottingham. At the same time she also competed on the open circuit as a juvenile, junior and youth competitor, focussing on classical sequence, modern ballroom and Latin American. Her proudest achievement being reaching the quarter finals of the Open Junior British Ballroom Championships at Blackpool. Since turning professional Louise has taken qualifications in classical sequence, modern ballroom, Latin American and line dancing, she is also a qualified scrutineer. Louise is now co-principal of Duesbury Aldred Dance Centre, teaching all styles and training people of all ages from those taking their first steps through to medallists, open competitors, professionals and all levels in between. With her husband Robert, they began entering inventive dance competitions and won at their first event with the Countess Waltz. Since then, they have won 48 dances, including a record 17 wins at the British Sequence Championships in Blackpool. Five of which have gone on to become championship dances. Louise is regularly invited to adjudicate at major events, championships and medallist competitions, including the prestigious British Sequence Championships. Apart from holding their own competitions, she has also been

invited to give workshops and lectures. Louise and Robert are delighted to have been presented with the Carl Alan, the Classique de Dance and the North East Dance awards in recognition of their contributions to sequence dance. Louise has been a member of the Sequence Faculty since 2011 and the Society’s sequence representative on the BDC Sequence Advisory Committee since 2019. Robert Aldred Robert began dancing at an early age working through the medal test systems in ballroom, Latin American and classical sequence, as well as competing as a juvenile and junior. He turned professional in 1991 and began teaching alongside Louise at her family dance school. She later became his wife. He is now co-principal of their busy dance school in Nottingham, teaching all the dancesport styles and training people of all ages from those taking their first steps through to medallists, open competitors, professionals and all levels in between. He is now a fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, International Dance Teachers Association, and National Association of Teachers of Dancing. He has served on the Society’s Sequence Faculty for 15 years and was Vice-Chair of the Faculty between 2014 and 2020. He has represented

the Society on the British Dance Council Sequence Advisory Committee for 13 years and is now the Chair of that committee as well as being a director of the British Dance Council. Robert is regularly invited to adjudicate in all styles at major events and championships including the prestigious British Sequence Dance Championships. He is regularly in demand for workshops and as a lecturer by all the main teaching organisations in both the sequence and ballroom genres. Together with Louise he has won with 48 dances at inventive dance competitions including a record 17 wins at the British Sequence Championships in Blackpool. Five of these dances have gone on to become popular championship dances. Robert was instrumental in writing, producing and demonstrating on the Classical Sequence Companion DVDs, which were released by the Society to assist in learning, teaching and qualifying in this elegant style of dance. His wife Louise also demonstrated on the DVDs. Alexandra Costi As soon as she could walk Alex started learning to dance with her first teacher, Gloria Hooper, and worked her way up through the medallist system, attaining Supreme Award by the time she was 13. Alex undertook her professional training with Simon Cruwys, Suzanne

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Malcolm Hill Head of Faculty Development for Latin American, Ballroom, Sequence

Hammond and later Anne Lingard and Julie Earnshaw. She runs a busy school in East Sussex and is an examiner for the Society in ballroom and Latin American. Alex was introduced to classical sequence through Anne Lingard who encouraged her to join a group of professionals who were studying the theory. She quickly caught the bug and began her professional exams in this genre whilst teaching the work in her own school, entering students of all ages for sequence medal tests and the 3-dance event at Society medallist competitions, which she has also adjudicated. Alex’s enthusiasm for sequence dancing is infectious. She loves introducing her pupils to old and new dances and is passionate about promoting the unique social and physical benefits of training in this genre. Louise Sampson Louise is thrilled to be a member of the Sequence Faculty for a second term of office and to be able to continue to support existing and new dancers to this genre. Desperate to join her elder sister, Louise started dancing at the age of three with Viva Henshaw of the Whincroft School of Dancing. She took her first Society medal just before her fourth birthday and completed the medals and awards as a juvenile and junior in both roles. During these early years

she enjoyed performing and competing in both medallist festivals and open competitions securing top finalist placing. Louise turned professional at 17 and has attained Fellowship Ballroom, Viennese Waltz, Latin American and Classical Sequence, and both Diploma and Double Degrees in all three genres. Louise has enjoyed entering the Society’s sequence inventive competitions and has achieved finalist in all three sequence styles. As principal of her own school, Rhythm & Dance, she provides dance tuition in East Dorset and as a freelance teacher at the Euro Dance Centre in Germany. Louise’s teaching experience covers a wide age range from the under sixes to senior citizens. She particular enjoys assisting pupils that have medical and learning difficulties and she is currently a Level 2 Para Dance Sport Instructor. Rhythm & Dance offers both pupils and students from local educational establishments the opportunity of work experience and participation in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. Louise promotes a positive atmosphere to the pupils and actively encourages participation in medal examinations and competitions. Her pupils enter open, local and medallist competitions at home and abroad. Louise is proud that she has trained Society Blackpool finalists across

different age categories and genres. Louise particularly enjoys training professionals and currently offers new and existing professionals the opportunity to train under the new modular system in the UK and abroad. In addition to teaching, Louise holds a BDC Adjudicators Licence for competitions and championships. She regularly adjudicates for mainstream and equality competitions both home and abroad. Louise is a successful organiser of dance events including UK and European dance holidays, seasonal balls and assists the Eurodance Centre team to organise the German Medallist Festival.

i Above left to right: The new Sequence Faculty committee 2020–2023 Louise Aldred Robert Aldred Alexandra Costi Louise Sampson Head of Faculty development: Malcolm Hill

If members have matters they would like to raise with Committee, please contact Megan Garner

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Tap Dance Tap in the community When not in lockdown, registered teacher Helen Chipchase runs a community dance group called Tap on Tap If you had come to the Blackmarket nightclub in the picturesque old town of Hastings in East Sussex on the first Thursday of each month pre-lockdown you’d have seen Tap on Tap in action. Once a month the nightclub was host to this social dancing evening run by three dance teachers with a passion for tap. When not in lockdown, the monthly night attracts people from a diverse range of professions including lawyers, teachers, nurses, social workers and artists. Dancers of all ages, from their twenties to their seventies, come together to tap it out. Tap on Tap was the brain-child of Helen Chipchase, an inclusion consultant by day and tap dancer by night. Helen completed her DDI with the Society whilst working in a busy role as Head of Diversity for a FTSE 100 business. The long hours and five-hour daily commute were all-consuming and left her keen to reconnect to her local community.

The team has fine-tuned the format to make sure Tap on Tap is inclusive for all levels of dancer

Tap on Tap has been running for three years. It takes place in an inclusive, welcoming public venue and people are encouraged to wear what they like. This helps everyone feel comfortable and relaxed. The bar is open and people can get a drink, which adds to the sense of occasion. Over the years the team has finetuned the format to make sure Tap on Tap is inclusive for all levels of dancer. They always have a complete beginner’s session, then teach a simple routine, and after the interval they offer some harder variations for more experienced dancers. They finish each Tap on Tap with their signature Tap on Tap time step. They love music and found that theming each evening around a particular band or artist really helped them market the event. Hastings is known for its vibrant music scene and Helen is keen to continue to connect the dots between the local musicians and tap dancers, adding in rhythmic response and improvisation to the evenings. They also like to incorporate an element of performance into every Tap on Tap. They invite local adult tap groups

to join them and showcase routines they have been learning. This creates an opportunity for them to perform, and for their teachers to promote their classes. The look on everyone’s faces as they leave is its own reward. Tap on Tap has certainly helped them to reach out to new tappers and by growing their reputation locally they have been rewarded with some really fun opportunities to perform such as cabaret and community events. They love tap and want more people to enjoy it. Whilst they do offer classes themselves, they are just as happy to connect those wanting to engage in tap with other teachers and classes in the area. At their birthday event last year, they asked people to tell them what they enjoyed about Tap on Tap. Dancers commented on how welcoming and inclusive the atmosphere was and how much fun they had. One dancer commented: “I just thought what a great idea! And now I’m obsessed with the friendly passion of Tap on Tap and great music.” Let's hope they'll be tapping together again soon.

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Jason Di Mascio Head of Faculty Development for Tap

Sarah Reich


Respect the dance, respect the history of it. Respect where it’s gone and where it’s going

Tap origins Committee member Nathan James gives us an introduction to the development of tap dance Whilst the history of tap goes back over 200 years, according to Mark Knowles the title tap dancing did not come into American culture until 1902. Yet, with its roots intertwined in the social injustice of the slave trade, its rich history is somewhat complex, so the purpose of this article is to give an overview of its roots as a starting point for you to investigate further. In a recent social media post tap dancer Sarah Reich said: “Respect the dance, respect the history of it. Respect where it’s gone and where it’s going.” As teachers we have a great responsibility to continue to inform the young dancers in front of us and so I have created a YouTube playlist and suggested further reading for you at the end of the article. It is oft repeated that the earliest influences in tap dance come from a mix of dance and musical influences drawn from English, Irish and African cultures. However, Constance Valis Hill acknowledges that more awareness of intercultural exchanges of the Irish, West African and African Americans between the 17th to 19th centuries is required as this fusion of worldwide influences have contributed to the

shaping of this form of percussive dance. English general Oliver Cromwell was responsible for the inhumane expatriation of thousands of Irish to the West Indies during the mid-17th century. Only a few years later the barbaric enslavement of Africans to the West Indies would introduce the two cultures to live side by side and is thought to suggest why so many Africans adopted Irish surnames. In both cultures dance bore religious, ritualistic and story-telling elements. African influences drew upon percussive elements that, whilst originating with drumming, would later incorporate the hands and feet. There was also a common use of gliding and shuffling movements that are still evident in today’s tap dance vocabulary. The jig was the most significant Irish style that influenced tap with the earliest forms incorporating intricate leg and foot work. Clog dancing and the Hornpipe were derived from British culture and had a significant influence on the development as they relied so much on rhythmical footwork. Whilst several elements of dances from the West Indies were utilised in social forms of dance, the most influential

Above Bill Bojangles Robinson, 1942

to tap dancing was the juba. It was a competitive dance that incorporated shuffling of the feet enhanced by the rhythmic clapping and slapping of spectators. Upon the incarceration of African tribes, they would eventually be sold and dispersed amongst the many plantations that existed in the Deep South of America. With little opportunity for entertainment and no human rights, the slaves would utilise adapted forms of dance for their own entertainment when permitted. This would give birth to early forms of dances such as the Cakewalk, and the Buck dance which was a combination of stamps and chugging movements. These vernacular forms of dance would later evolve into styles of both jazz and tap dance during the early 20th century. With the convergence of these varied cultures came a new form of jigging which combined the grounded footwork of the African style with that of the more upright hold of the Irish. In the early 1800s Minstrelsy became a popular form Dance | Issue 491 77

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Focus On

Tap Dance ~ continued

of entertainment in which white performers would use burnt cork to paint their faces and songs and dances would mimic interpretations of dances first seen by African Americans. Whilst the use of blackface is accordingly abhorred in todays social climate, the irony lies in the fact that the appropriation of African American dance and performance tropes by white performers was a significant catalyst in introducing tap dance to audiences worldwide. One of the earliest well-known minstrel dancers was Master Juba who toured throughout the states during the late 19th century and he utilised a range of Jig and African dance forms. Another prominent theatrical figure who demonstrated an Irish influence was George M Cohan, whose musical productions were produced on Broadway. According to Hill, the formation of the Theatre Owner’s Booking Association (TOBA) became a prominent showcase

for African American tap dancers who toured all over the United States in vaudeville and minstrel shows. At the very heart of tap dance’s earliest influences is a competitive tradition of dancing opponents trying to out-do one another and stealing each other’s steps. During its development as a theatrical art form during the 19th century it was commonplace for dancers to go and watch other dance acts in vaudeville in order to steal their steps therefore having a significant impact on the evolution of the tap dance vocabulary. The 1921 black musical comedy Shuffle Along would become a turning point for featuring tap in a mainstream Broadway musical and would explain the close relationship that tap dance, as a dance idiom, has with musical theatre. Influences in the syncopated jazz music of composer Eubie Blake would have a significant influence in the rhythmic complexity of tap dancing. Early buck and wing was a flat footed dance in 2/4 or 4/4 time with its roots drawn from Appalachian clog dancing, the wing was a sideways brush rather than the wing action used today. Jazz



Above Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson Above right John Bubbles as the original Sporting Life in George Gershwin’s 1935 opera Porgy and Bess

tap dance emerged, according to Hill, “as the most rhythmically complex form of jazz dancing.” Equally, vernacular dances such as the cakewalk would directly influence a more upright and pulled up use of the torso. In the early 1900s choreographer Ned Wayburn began to incorporate what was then known as tap and step dancing into his New York productions and it was during this time the dance was identified as tap dance. A vocabulary didn’t exist during this time and only became more formalised by Wayburn in 1923 with his publication The Art of Stage Dancing. At the same time, the Hoofers Club was formed in Harlem, New York City and according to Jean and Marshall Stearns, existed as a safe haven for tap dancers to practice and ‘trade’ steps with other tap dancers. Many developments in terms of vocabulary and style would be explored in this setting including the introduction of the time step. King Rustus Brown, a buck dancer, improvised a series of steps that followed a 6-bar phrase followed by a 2-bar break. A keen group of young dancers pieced together every step which would become one of the

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Above right Arthur Duncan in 1962

most famous tap dance structures around the globe. Similarly, John Bubbles would be a frequent member of the club and would become one of the earliest rhythm tap dancers. To conclude this introduction to the history of tap it is important to salute to Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, the only tap dancer whose birthday, 25 May, is honoured as National Tap Dance Day in the USA. Robinson’s contribution was significant, he elevated tap from the flatfooted buck style to a more elegant stance that brought tap up on its toes, partly emphasising its connection with English and Irish jigs. Robinson was a featured performer in Vaudeville and his signature dance, the ‘stair dance’, demonstrates the precision and clarity in his footwork a style that would be adopted by later dancers. With the developments in the film industry, Hollywood films would end the popularity of Vaudeville and would enable tap dances to reach audiences globally.

As teachers we have a great responsibility to continue to inform the young dancers in front of us



Above Bill Robinson in The Hot Mikado

i YouTube playlist NKqjw8CRR9TiUSXHHREpvVr4IvSL Recommended Reading Tap Dancing America, Constance Valis Hill, 2010 Jazz Dance, Marshall and Jean Stearns, 1968, reprinted 1994 Tap Roots, Mark Knowles, 2002

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What’s On

What’s on Dates for your diary As different organisations and the dancers within them adjust to the times, many of us are finding new ways to reach broader audiences than ever before. For more information on our events and courses, visit

Our events Jan–May 2021 We continue to listen closely to the government guidelines surrounding COVID-19 and wherever possible, we are maintaining our programme of online events, exams and courses. The most up-to-date information on these is available on our website at JA N UA RY National Dance 25 Jan National Faculty Awards – booking closes Cecchetti Classical Ballet 28 Jan Cecchetti Young Dancers Choreography Competition – results announced FEB RUA RY National Dance 12 Feb National Faculty Awards – results announced 13 – 22 Feb Half term online courses – see Tap 22 Feb Bursary Selection – booking closes M A RCH Tap 1 Mar Bursary Selection – video submission deadline Classical Indian Dance 28 Mar Online Bursary Event – booking closes Tap 29 Mar Bursary Selection – results announced 29 Mar – 17 April Join the Education and Training department as we take our annual spring CPD programme online. Upskill and interact with teachers and lecturers from around the world. Learn something new to inspire your students. Highlights include courses on the grade revisions from classical Greek, the

intermediate contemporary syllabus, biomechanics and approach for teaching pointe work from the Cecchetti committee, as well as many more courses and lectures from across 13 genres – see A PRI L Classical Indian Dance 18 April Online Bursary Event – video submission deadline M AY Classical Indian Dance 6 May Bursary selection – results announced POS T PONED DU E TO COV I D -19 The following events have been postponed. Dates will be reviewed at Easter and announced in due course: • Ruby Ginner Awards • Theatre Bursary Awards • Winter Showdance Competition • Imperial Classical Ballet Solo Performance Awards

i New Adventures are making their Festival of Classics available online from 8 May. Right Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Dominic North ‘The Prince’ and Will Bozier ‘The Swan’

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What’s on in the industry Here we share a round-up of industry events to consider. Please note events may be subject to change depending on the latest national government guidance. FEB RUA RY 3–27 Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin combines explosive dance and graceful gestures in the critically acclaimed Sadeh21. Performed by the dancers of the Opéra national de Paris, the dance is characteristic of Naharin’s ‘Gaga’ movement language. The Paris Opera, Paris, France. Please note that seating adjustments will be in place to allow for appropriate social distancing. M A RCH 15–20 Dundee Rep Theatre launched Digital Buzz back in September of 2020, with an exciting programme of online theatre and dance classes taught via Zoom. The new Digital Buzz Festival will feature a variety of unique performances created online, reminding us of the challenges dancers had to overcome due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Performers’ ages range from 5 to 85. Online only.

A PRI L 8–11 International Symposium Dance(s) and Ritual(s) will question whether dance can be perceived as a ritual, delving into the different ways rituals examine the processes of creation, transmission, staging and the execution of dances. Centre National de la Danse, Pantin, France. news/international-symposium-dances-and-rituals 15–24 William Forsythe’s dance party is back and bigger and better than ever. Indulge in this triple bill of stunning works, each drastically different in form, though all celebrating his enduring love for ballet; Playlist (EP), Blake Works I and Approximate Sonata. Sadler’s Wells, London. M AY 1–2 Join the hip hop theatre revolution at the world’s biggest festival of hip hop dance. Back for its 18th year, expect electrifying performances, dance workshops, graffiti, DJs, and freestyle sessions. Breakin’ Convention is a family-friendly experience showcasing the best hip hop dancers from around the world. Sadler’s Wells, London. 8 Excitingly, British dance-theatre company New Adventures are making their Festival of Classics available online. From 8 May you’ll be able to indulge in Matthew Bourne classics from the comfort of your own home. Enjoy renting Romeo and Juliet for an exquisite night in, or download Swan Lake to watch whenever you fancy. Online only. JOHAN PERSSON

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A LWAYS ONL I NE The Northern Ballet have been kind enough to put a number of their livestreams online for you to tune in to from wherever you fancy. A Friday night in with Geisha Untold, a livestream full of exclusive behind-the-scenes content on Kenneth Tindall’s Geisha ballet? We’re in. Enjoy live rehearsals and talks with the choreographer. With music by Alexandra Harwood. digital-dance/livestreams/geisha-untold-livestream Watch time: Approx 45 mins

27 May–4 June Since 1929, Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom has been home to the May Blackpool Dance Festival. The largest of its kind in Blackpool, previous competitors have been known to travel from across the globe to take part. Expect everything from ballroom to Latin American dancing in its 96th year. Winter Gardens, Blackpool. may-blackpool-dance-festival Above Matthew Bourne’s Romeo and Juliet. Cordelia Braithwaite ‘Juliet’ and Paris Fitzpatrick ‘Romeo’

Below Giuliano Contadini as Simon, Martha Leebolt as Odilia and Javier Torres as Anthony in Northern Ballet’s Swan Lake

TAWBOX, A BAFTA nominated duo consisting of Creative Director and Choreographer Amber Rimell and Create Director Bronski, premiered their short film 1WRD: Misunderstood in December 2020. Follow 22-year-old professional dancer Mikiel Bruce’s journey as he tells us how he uses dance to navigate his autism. Watch time: Approx 6 mins English National Ballet’s Associate Choreographer Stina Quagebeur and film director Shaun James Grant’s Take Five Blues blends contemporary jazz and classical music in this unique short film. Described as a ‘Jazz-inspired joy of dance’, stream to your favourite device any time. Rent for £3.49 for three days. Watch time: Approx 20 mins


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What’s trending online

Join the conversation on social media

Bringing you the most recent highlights from our social media over the last few months. To join the conversation, follow our channels for more information, inspiration and insights. @istddance #TeachDance

CPD 2020 has been a year of drastic change for so many people and we found that our events and courses would have to adapt in order to survive. We had our first ever digital summer school in August and continue to offer our membership, digital CPD and learning opportunities throughout the winter months. Many of you have told us how amazing it is to be able to access these courses online! Check out what’s coming up in 2021 on

Equity, diversity and inclusion Conversations surrounding equity, diversity and inclusion have been brought to the forefront this year, and we as a global membership organisation have listened and learned from these. We issued a statement acknowledging our history and our ongoing commitment to improving access to dance education for all.

Patrons We are lucky enough to have a range of industry leaders and experts support our work as patrons. We have been sharing their news and following their success (including Oti and Bill on Strictly Come Dancing) on our channels and hope that this continues to inspire you.

World Ballet Day 2020 We wanted to join in the celebrations and highlight our two wonderful ballet genres Imperial and Cecchetti. We were very lucky to receive lovely messages from top ballet dancers and teachers. Check out the highlight on our Instagram page to recap the day. What did you do to celebrate?

Teaching bursaries As part of our charitable status and to further support our mission to maintain and improve teaching standards, we offer a number of financial bursaries to teachers. Did you know, that so far we have supported the training of 60 teachers from across the globe? The scheme opens again for applications in March 2021 so please visit our website for more details and to apply.

At home practice We have been completely blown away by how quickly the dance teaching community was able to adapt their practice and business’ to online offerings this year. Even more impressive was the commitment to learning that your pupils and students have shown through their athome studios. We love seeing all your photos and videos so please tag us @istddance #TeachDance #ISTDdance – you may be featured on our page!

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Directory A helpful guide to contacting us A guide to our teams, what they do and how to contact them. For more information visit

OU R DA NCE DI REC TOR AT E The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing truly represents a diverse range of dance, with 11 faculties that cover many forms of theatrical, recreational and social dance.

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Membership matters As of April 2021, we are making some changes to membership to provide you with even more support and guidance for your teaching journey ­­— to help you navigate the new normal, support you at every level, and guide you to your next step. Read more about how membership is changing on page 5 and look out for updates in your membership area soon.

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