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!

Focus on: dance for people with Parkinson’s

SLiDE Dance Practitioner Katie Wheeler reflects on her involvement with our dance for Parkinson’s project.

I have been spending the last couple of years working alongside Gemma learning about dance for people with Parkinson’s and moving with some lovely community groups. The lockdown and subsequent shut down of our class was a massive shock to everyone. Leaving our gorgeous church hall to set up in small spaces at home took time to adjust, however, we carry on and we make it work! During a worldwide pandemic we have successfully managed (with surprisingly very few hiccups!) to continue reaching out to our regular participants. We have offered them dynamic and playful online creative dance sessions, that include lots of laughs, improvisation, and social time. Our participants have truly mastered the scary giant that is Zoom and smashed all technological barriers to meet every week since June 2020. I am so grateful that we are still able to connect online and, in turn, ease the loneliness and isolation often felt by people with Parkinson’s. This loneliness is often present and has only been exacerbated by the current pandemic. Whilst the world feels so dark and our mental health is so fragile, I am lucky to be part of something so magical that brightens every gloomy Monday for the participants, volunteers and myself.

In-person classes from 2019, photo: Sophie Standford

Dancing through the lockdown

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
Martha Graham

Here we are again with a stay at home order, inevitable given the situation but difficult for us all especially given the mental health challenges at this time of year. SLiDE will continue our online programme throughout January and February and maybe beyond, hard to know at this stage. But we hope we can bring a little bit of light and laughter to these grey and uncertain times.

January schedule:

Dance for people with Parkinson’s: Mondays, 2-3pm

Creative dance for adults: Tuesdays 11-12pm and Wednesdays 2-3pm £5 suggested donation (per class)

SLiDE youth co: Thursdays 5-6pm termly fee

Disco into your day: Saturday/Tuesday/Thursday £1 suggested donation (per class)

This Girl Can: Wednesdays 11-12pm, booking: emily@slidedance.org FREE class

Our Dance Artists are energising, motivating, patient and kind and are looking forward to seeing you on the living room dance floor!

Happy Christmas!

It was certainly not the year we had all planned for and it was challenging like no other. The beginning of the lockdown heralded a new era and although we took time to consider it we took to Zoom and began our online dance journey. Fortunately the generosity of our funders meant we could refocus our projects and this resulted in some beautiful outcomes such as our dance film ‘Knowing Togetherness’. Despite the various stages of the lockdowns and uncertainty our community galvanised and emerged stronger as a result of our creative exchanges and care for each other. We would like to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped us to get through this year with their donations, time, patience, spaces, shout outs and support.

Wising you all a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year,

Much love, Gemma and the SLiDE Team

Covid-19 update

In view of the covid-19 developments and the fact that venues are closed/closing, all our activities (classes and performances) are suspended/postponed until further notice. We are truly going to miss all our dancers and artists over the coming weeks and we hope you stay well.

On the brighter side we will be dipping into the archive and sharing some of our best moments from the last seven years.

We remain hopeful that we can withstand this period of uncertainty and fully intend to come back stronger with renewed energy and vigour.

Thank you to our team of inspirational artists, assistants, producer and trustees for your work so far this year. Also thanks to our network of parents, carers and partner organisations, who support people to access our projects. We are sending virtual hugs to you all during these exceptional circumstances.

Much love
Gemma xxx

Inclusive Dance Practice Course with SLiDE…

Wednesday 9th and 23rd October 10-5pm at Fairfield Halls, Croydon (CR9 1DG)

£60 a day or £100 for both days

Join SLiDE Artistic Director and SLiDE dancers for CPD in inclusive dance practice. SLiDE leads classes and projects in the community with a wide range of ages and abilities and we will be sharing our inclusive dance methodology.

This is suitable for dance students and graduates, dance teachers and artists who want to refresh their skills or are thinking of a new direction. It is also a great chance to meet the company as we start a period of expansion and development.

In the morning you will experience inclusive dance improv games and exercises. In the afternoon we will be joined by some SLiDE dancers, when you will have the opportunity to lead an exercise (if you wish) or work with the dancers in small groups. There will also be time for reflection and a debrief at the end.

More info/to book: gemma@slidedance.org
www.slidedance.org

Boost to dance programme for people with Parkinson’s

Thanks to some generous funding from Croydon Relief in Need we are working with the Croydon Parkinson’s UK local branch to invigorate and develop their dance programme for people living with Parkinson’s.

Mondays 1-2pm Purley United Reformed Church, CR8 2LN, tea and coffee afterwards.

First & third Thursday of the month, 12.45-2.15pm St.Mildred’s, Addiscombe, CR0 7EB

These classes are for people with Parkinson’s and carers are welcome too. The classes use various styles of dance such as contemporary, ballet, creative and ballroom dance. They are accessible to all ages and abilities, with seated and standing options throughout. The relaxed environment offers a sense of freedom to be creative and make mistakes! Laughter guaranteed, all welcome.

Over the past 10 years the research into dance and PD has been significant and shows a strong link between dance and improved health and wellbeing. In April 2015 English National Ballet released a report following a three year research study into the benefits of dance for PD:

‘The main benefits of dancing with Parkinson’s are in the mental activity it provides and in emotional and social health and wellbeing. We can conclude that dancing is a good and challenging mental workout for people with Parkinson’s and allows some participants to cope better with symptoms and disability. It offers a positive environment where there is a community of support through dance, allowing participants to nurture positive attitudes to the future and a sense of independence’.

For more information, an information discussion about the project or to book call Gemma on 07887 781361 or email gemma@slidedance.org

Seeking new trustee: SLiDE Treasurer

Would you like to contribute to a small but vibrant inclusive dance charity? We are currently looking for a new trustee to join our board, which meets 4 times a year in Croydon:

The treasurer is responsible for maintaining the annual accounts, raising and processing invoices. You will need to have bookkeeping experience and an interest in inclusive dance.

A CV, application form and two references will be required for these roles. For more information please get in touch: gemma@slidedance.org

Photo: Vipul Sangoi

Insert Title Here: an invitation to view, to dance, to reflect.

Photo: Peter Ball

Would you catch me if I fell?
You arranged, positioned and orbited me with thought and care, responding to my body
Together we revisited a memory looking deep, seeing a fresh
Uncovering images, intention, authenticity and Summer filled the room.
Is it really April?

Yes, it was really April (in that heatwave) and we were in the studio developing our latest intergenerational dance performance. I say latest but actually it has been a while, over 4 years, since our last full length piece. Like most creative processes it came with a fair amount of hope and uncertainty, knowing and full on ‘what the hell are we doing-ness…’ However I needn’t have worried as the conditions were right. It was clear from the first day of being together it was the right people in the right place at the right time. This project had been brewing for a while, a culmination of several research projects and small steps forward.

Maybe it is the diversity of the performers aged 18 to 62, some with a disability, some with professional level training and experience, but through our process of being together we created harmony and support. Or as one audience member reflected, “I would describe the piece as ‘destination happiness’, an inspirational way of being. It was very moving.”

Photo: Peter Ball

The project started with an invite to a host of Artists: Dramaturg Louise Katerega, Dancers, a Cellist from the London Mozart Players and a selection of SLiDE dancers. The invitation carries on into the piece, with the audience invited to name it by providing answers on a postcard. The premiere at the Croydonites Festival of New Theatre resulted in the title, ‘Ships and walls: Where old memories fell’. 

The invite is now firmly in the Croydon community as we take the core elements of the piece ‘on the road’. So far we have danced with Indian Dance students at Apsara Arts and with elders at the Croydon African Caribbean Family Organisation. Thanks to one of our dancers, Takeshi Matsumoto originally from Japan, we have been able to share a traditional Japanese Folk Dance with these groups. This folk dance has transcended cultural differences and has ‘spoken’ to those who have dance it with us (something for future investigation here) as well as providing a jubilant ending to our performance.

There is one more invite to join us as we will be performing <Insert Title Here> as part of the Crystal Palace Festival on Sunday 17 June at 3pm. Tickets are £5 for adults and under 18s are free. We are already looking forward to sharing this work again and wondering what the audience will name it!

No one quite knew how we got there but a knowing togetherness emerged.

Photo: Peter Ball

This project has been supported by the Arts Council England and Croydon Council.