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:

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!

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: 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