News: Strictly youth dancing

Monday 17 March 2008

The government is to invest £5.5 million in youth dance over the next three years . The news was announced by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham and Schools Minister Andrew Adonis at the Royal Opera House and follows a review of youth dance by Royal Opera House Chief Executive Tony Hall, also published today. He said “My review aims to do one thing – and this is to get young people dancing, wherever they live, and from whatever background they come. Dance answers lots of the issues young people face from expressing their creativity, to working in teams, tackling obesity, or just having fun. I am delighted the Government is acting on our ideas.”

The new investment, plus a support structure, will boost dance opportunities for young people – both in and out of school hours. It will help young people dance for fun and fitness, and support talented young dancers move into the profession. Funding will come through the Departments for Culture, Media and Sport and Children, Schools and Families and Arts Council England.

One of Hall’s recommendations is that dance needs to follow the lead of the music sector and develop a joined up national strategy. Youth Dance England, which was formed in 2004 has already developed a network of regional co-ordinators to cover out of school activities. It’s brief now will be to develop a national youth dance strategy across both school and youth dance sectors.

A pilot scheme of dance co-ordinators in schools will be set up to support the provision of dance, both as an art form and as part of school sport provision. Another of Hall’s recommendations is that the the title of the subject Physical Education (PE) be changed to PE, Sport and Dance – to help emphasise the unique position of dance within the PE curriculum.

Six new Centres of Advanced Training (CATs) will be set up between now and 2011, training and supporting around 1,500 more young people inspired to take dance to the next level. The existing dance CATs are: Dance City Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne; Laban Dance CAT, London; London Contemporary Dance School CAT at The Place; Swindon Dance Academy; Yorkshire Young Dancers (with Northern School of Contemporary Dance and Northern Ballet Theatre, Leeds). Two new dance CATs – Dance East Academy, Ipswich and Birmingham Dance Academy (with Dance Xchange and SAMPAD South Asian dance) are due to come on stream during the 2008/09 school year. Over the course of the next few years, new dance CATs are expected to open at Dance4 in Nottingham (serving the East Midlands from September 2009) and in the North West, with further strengthening of the infrastructure in the South West and South East.

A new leadership from a joint DCMS/DCSF Dance Review Programme Board will bring together stakeholders, agencies and funders from education and dance sectors and young dancers themselves for the first time.

The official announcement of new funding and the launch of Tony Hall’s report took place in the Paul Hamlyn Hall at the Royal Opera House. It included performances from South London primary school children who have taken part in the Opera House’s Chance to Dance programme – and from teenagers working with hip hop dance group Impact Dance – going some way to reflect the range of youth dance activity already happening in England.

Choreographer Arlene Philips, currently best currently most widely known as a Strictly Come Dancing judge has also been giving her support to the new initiative. Tony Hall told the meeting how she called him to offer her help on his review. She has recently become a Patron of Youth Dance England saying “I am thrilled to be a patron of YDE at this exciting time. Dance can be life changing, dance can make a difference to every young person and I welcome this increased support for youth dance training.”

Making the announcement Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, said: “Ballet or ballroom, hip-hop or Highland, dance is something we’re really good at in this country. It also combines physical activity, creativity and beauty in a way that appeals to all. So it’s right and good that Government support for the dance world should be put on a new footing, and I look forward to seeing the next generation of dancers – and the one after that – benefit from it.”

The Dance Review – A Report to Government on Dance Education and Youth Dance in England by Tony Hall download here

Government response to Tony Hall’s review download here

Youth Dance England:

London Youth Dance


“This feels like a special moment for dance: how wonderful to see dance placed firmly centre stage and joined-up thinking between Government departments. It is a courageous move in political terms to demonstrate such clear commitment to the long-term instead of attempting a quick fix.

“If young people are to excel and reach their potential then we must invest in training the artists who will teach them both in and out of schools. In ten years time we might look back and wonder how we ever went for so long without dance playing a central role at the heart of education, alongside music, drama and the visual arts. Imagine a day when those interviewing potential CEOs and politicians for top jobs will look down a CV and pause with concern if they see that an individual has no experience of dance!”
Kenneth Tharp, Chief Executive of The Place

“I welcome the announcement from the DCMS. This considerable financial commitment will have a huge impetus on the future development of dance. Additional resources for youth dance lie at the core of developing talent, and will provide young people with a valuable route-map through their potential career development. In 10 years time, the enormous effect of this contribution will be demonstrated both in the quality and quantity of UK dancers on stage and in the increase of general awareness and participatory opportunities which will allow more people to enjoy this thriving art-form.”
Alistair Spalding, CEO and Artistic Director of Sadler’s Wells

“All of this sounds great, but it remains to be seen whether the government is prepared to give either scheme the indepth, long-term, properly thought out support that such initiatives require.”
Read more in Luke Jennings Guardian blog, 18 Mar 08

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