Spotlight: Andrea Swainson

Andrea leads our Wednesday afternoon sessions and is a specialist in inclusive dance practice:

‘My Wednesday sessions with SLiDE are the highlight of my week. We have been exploring some of the SLiDE’s value’s this term and looking at connections, togetherness and empowerment. I’m always amazed at the groups willingness to give everything a try and experiment which makes the sessions really playful and exciting. I feel privileged to be working with such a great group of dancers and surrounded by a great team and community’

​​Andrea is a community Dance Artist, Producer and with a BA honours in Dance Studies from Middlesex University. She is also the Engagement and Outreach Manager for Corali Dance Company, managing a range of engagement, training, mentoring projects. She has also facilitated a number of community dance projects in Sri Lanka, Thailand, China and Nepal and most recently went on a cultural exchange impact project in Ghana with Awareness Through Dance.  Andrea founded her own dance company, which she ran for over 10 year working in relationships with local charities. Andrea has worked for Royal Academy of Dance, B.Supreme, Lyra and Oval House Theatre on various community, participatory and professional work.

Spotlight: Corinne Meredith

Having been part of the SLiDE community for over 7 years, this autumn Corinne returns to lead our youth company:

I am enjoying my time getting to know the youth company and am so lucky to get to dance with them each week. We have started the new term thinking about movement, stillness and the power that this combination can have. I am very excited to continue to build on the existing skills and experience of the group, whilst exploring new ideas, with lots of fun along the way. I can’t wait until we begin to make a piece together that can be shared with an audience

Corinne is a freelance Community Dance Artist with an MA in Text and Performance Studies from King’s College London and RADA and a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Dance from Trinity Laban. She currently works with SLiDE, DanceWest, The Place, Sadler’s Wells, Akram Khan Company, is the Creative Support Artist for the National Youth Dance Company and works on community projects with the Young Vic. Corinne has previously worked with Body and Soul Charity, the Royal Academy of Dance, Trinity Laban, the Bush Theatre, the Orange Tree Theatre and was a Project Associate and Dance Captain for Public Acts at the National Theatre from 2017 – 2019. 

Creative dance for adults: relaunch

We are thrilled to relaunch our class for adults aged 50+ at Fairfield Halls this autumn. The group originally started in November 2019 but naturally had to pause throughout the lockdowns. Led by community dance specialist, Anita Wadsworth, the class is accessible, creative and joyful with plenty of moments of free dance (improvisation) and taught phrases.

The group will meet Wednesdays 10.30am-12pm

To book/for more info: emily@slidedance.org

If you are under 50 & interested in our approach, or you are regaining your health & fitness, you are very welcome to join us!

Audio described film launch

We have been working with VocalEyes who have created a beautiful audio described version of our film ‘Knowing Togetherness’. Please have a listen and let us know what you think: info@slidedance.org

The audio description for this film was created by VocalEyes, and part-funded by an Arts Council National Lottery project grant (100 Videos Described)

The best fest!

To celebrate our return to Fairfield Halls and our community reconnecting for in-person dancing in June we ran SLiDE\\FEST, a 4 day creative dance extravaganza. We hosted family dance workshops, in partnership with the National Autistic Society and creative dance for over 60s. Guest dance companies Corali and Blink led sessions with our groups for learning disabled young people and adults….

It gave the SLiDE carers a chance to reflect on our work and contribute ideas for future projects….

‘The SLiDE team create a safe environment where our daughter is happy and well cared for. We like the way SLiDE focuses on what she ‘can’ do rather than what she can’t, it provides her with much needed exercise in a fun way. Holly sees SLiDE as her family, it is a big part of her life.

It’s an opportunity for Jordan to enjoy doing activities which he loves with young people of a similar age, a chance for him to be independent. SLiDE has been a constant in Jordan’s life and he welcomes the routine. The SLiDE group is very friendly and totally inclusive.

We’d like to have more workshops in the summer if possible. More opportunities to go and watch other dance-related performances!

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to this fantastic event, we had plenty of calls for SLiDE\\FEST take two….watch this space!

Returning to Fairfield Halls: hurrah!

From June 8th we will be back as the resident dance company of Fairfield Halls, with three weekly classes. It means so much to our community to be back together and whilst Zoom has been a lockdown life saver, nothing beats dancing in the same room as each other.

“I can’t wait to return back to do my in-person SLiDE dance sessions at Fairfield Halls” Sarah, SLiDE community dancer.

Our classes improve wellbeing, allow for plenty of freedom and creative expression and help fitness. Why don’t you join us! No experience needed: more info

Funding success!

We are delighted to announce that we have secured funding from the second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. This will enable us to enter an intense period of development including fundraising, partnership development and a re:launch event, inline with the lifting of the covid restrictions.

“We’re absolutely delighted to receive this funding which will enable us to move forward and build on our vision and ambitions. Over the last year our community has successfully embraced online dance classes and performances, growing even stronger. We will use this funding to ensure that we come back from the pandemic more resilient. This is a is a fantastic investment in our community” SLiDE board of trustees

On the left side of the image, a female musician plays a traditional African djembe drum. In the back ground three dancers dressed in blue perform a dance together. The funders logo, here for culture, is on the bottom right of the photo.
Photo: Camilla Greenwell

Be happy, be proud!

In advance of World Down Syndrome Day (March 21st) we spoke to one of our dancers, Ese, about her experiences of having down syndrome. Ese has danced with SLiDE for around two years and is a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing.

‘Everyone with Down syndrome is different. I need help and guidance but my parents and friends are always there for me. I am proud of myself, people with Down syndrome have special talents. You can still get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, you should do what you want to do. Be proud of your disability’.

This image shows Ese performing for the first time with the SLiDE Collective in November 2020 at TURF Projects. Watch this space as Ese and the Collective get back to public performances in the autumn.

Online challenges…

Whilst we have managed to provide continued meaningful creative exchanges through weekly Zoom classes, maintaining independence, equal agency and small group work has been a real challenge. We have tried hard to keep the quality and person-centred approach, getting creative with props, breakout rooms and playlists. A carer from our Parkinson’s group raises some additional points:

“Quite a lot is lost – there is a lack of real mobility – in the hall you are dancing and walking around but in the living room we are limited to 2 or 3 square metres. You can’t work in pairs but other bits of it translate quite well. But that person to person work doesn’t translate as well. In the hall Gemma would single individuals out if they are having difficulties or needed help but clearly that doesn’t work with 20 people in the video compared to a dozen in the hall – you can’t have those 1-1 conversations and something like break out rooms would be too disruptive.”

However online practice is here to stay and we will be moving forward with a blended offer. Dancing at home is a great plan B for some of our participants who struggle to leave the house on some days. Online platforms will keep developing and will in time lend themselves better to creative dance workshops. In the meantime we are committed to research around online practice and will continue to keep pushing the boundaries of what Zoom currently offers.

Gemma, SLiDE Artistic Director

Behind the scenes

As a small organisation, one of the challenges for SLiDE is to find time to spend on development. Our projects are all consuming and require lots of energy (in a good way) so finding time for deep and concentrated time on planning is hard to come by. With our projects all currently online though this offers more scope for organisational development and funding bid writing.

Senior Producer, Emily, is currently working with a small cohort of our community (which includes carers, participants and artists) and transitional coach Sarah Pickthall on a three year organisational plan. Although it is still unclear what the future might look like, we can spend time thinking about our vision, mission and values and how these support our communities to co-create cultural activities and collaborative creative experiences.

We will be sharing our plans in due course, watch this space!