Lambeth - Aim High Dance Crew

Partnered with Notre Dame Community Hall

AimHighDanceCrew Aim High Dance Crew worked on their piece, The Beginning, for two months. Led by instructor Hayley Rea, who also performs in the piece, the six-strong all girl group were partnered with Notre Dame Community Hall in Lambeth and although they only formed a few months ago, have already made their presence felt in the local area.

When I arrive at the community hall, pumping dance tunes and the girls’ routine is attracting quite a lot of attention from some young guys hanging out at the centre. They hover shyly in the doorframe, looking like they might want to join in then later start to play table tennis at the end of the room while I chat to the girls – Rebecca, 21, Christine, 16, Kenny, 17, Tramell, 17 and 15 year-old Dynelle.

It’s no secret that the Notre Dame Estate has experienced some problems with anti-social behaviour, drug dealing and even shootings, so I ask Hayley whether the group is open to new recruits, so that young people in the area might have the opportunity of a more positive focus. She tells me she has plans to expand the group and has been actively promoting the free classes for 14-25 year olds, handing out flyers on the estate. ‘Anyone can come – anyone who has never done dance is especially welcome too,’ she says.

At the end of February, Aim High was involved in community event, *Celebrating Streatham*, which marked the retirement of Keith Hill, Labour MP. They took part in a talent competition that was judged by Mercury Music Prize winner Speech Debelle and Leo Ihenanco, singer with The Streets. The girls gave their time for free, handing out flyers and talking to people in the local community about the opportunity for young people to join the free dance classes.

“The girls have worked really hard and being able to perform at an event like this boosts their confidence – it’s a great opportunity.”
Hayley Rea

Asked to comment for Streatham Guardian Hayley said, “The girls have worked really hard and being able to perform at an event like this boosts their confidence – it’s a great opportunity.” The local coverage has raised the group’s local profile and Hayley is confident that they could have up to 20 new recruits as a result.

Hayley has worked with two of the girls in the group, Tramelle and Dynelle before, and she tells me that when she stopped teaching them, they stopped dancing. The fact that the classes are free has made dancing again more accessible for the girls.

Following the performance at Lilian Baylis Studio, Hayley has also been looking to set up another dance group in the area for younger children, at primary school level. But, as the title of their piece suggests, this is only the very beginning for the Aim High Crew, who formed in December 2009. “Two girls have only been at it for a month, the others have had two months and it’s a big performance [at the Lilian Baylis],” says Hayley.

The group rehearsed intensively during half-term, including some days when they rehearsed from 10am until 7pm. “It has been a bit of a struggle – everyone putting in that little bit extra – but we’re all kind of used to it now and it shows that it does pay off. It was actually quite nice to spend long days together and to get to know each other as a team,” she said.

Hayley has worked with two of the girls in the group, Tramelle and Dynelle before, and she tells me that when she stopped teaching them, they stopped dancing. The fact that the classes are free has made dancing again more accessible for the girls. The scheme has been an opportunity for Hayley to mentor Tramelle and Dynelle, who are both keen on careers in dance, and for them to pass on skills to others who are relative newcomers to dancing.

“In this project, Dynelle taught a routine – so it’s all learning for them as well,” says Hayley. “They just love performing and they love competitions – it gives them something to work for.”
**
**Hayley has been a qualified dance teacher for three years, and teaches for Sadler’s Wells, but for the majority of her career, she has been teaching in Lambeth. She is looking forward to developing the group and sees the SpaceXchange project as her chance to strike out on her own and set up her own dance school. ‘This was the kick start that I needed!’

Report by Sam Gauntlett
Photography by Gigi Giannella
March 2010

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