I’ve had so much fun over the last 10 years, building a dance career, creating new communities (focused on Croydon) and setting up SLiDE with Anita. It is a rich and rewarding career and I’ve met some incredible people, many of whom are now friends for life. Leaving all this behind to travel for nine months around Southeast Asia was a difficult decision. But this planet is a small one, dance has a global community and after all wifi is generally available. So I’m never that far away.
Starting in January, it only took us a couple of months to reach Cambodia (via Myanmar, Thailand and Laos) and a highly anticipated visit to Epic Arts in Kampot, an inclusive arts company. I first heard of Epic about six years ago and loved how the company evolved, 18 years ago they started out with a cafe run by deaf and disabled people with workshops in the studio above. A few years ago they moved into a purpose built arts centre, retaining the cafe. It was great timing that two friends, Kathryn (Choreographer in residence) and Roxie (Drama Facilitator), were just completing roles with Epic. During the visit I was able to assist Kathryn with her rehearsals with Epic Encounters, the professional company, and watch them perform their latest piece, Come back brighter. Epic is so engrained in the local Kampot life with a craft shop, special needs school and of course advocacy for Cambodian deaf and disabled people. We lingered in Kampot for 8 days but we could have stayed for much longer. Finally there was community again!
So the last 10 years have also been tiring, completing my MA in July 2015 (Inclusive Arts Practice) more or less did me in!! For my final project I created a global community, bringing together 12 musicians from 12 global locations, who accompanied improvised dance and writing via Skype. One of these locations was Vietnam, with Dung, a professional Dan Tranh player (Vietnamese zither). Amazingly during our visit to Hanoi in mid April we were able to share a bowl of noodles. It really was like hanging out with an old friend.
For the time being it’s about the journey through this amazing continent. Maybe I’ll be fortunate to find some more arts communities. But if not it’s only a few months until I’ll be reunited with my home grown one. The time is whizzing by….!
Dance artist Corinne Meredith has been working with SLiDE on our new Street Dance project, where she has been supporting the group and our street dance teachers Brandon and Angus who are graduates of The BRIT School. We asked her what she enjoys about the project and what else she is up to…
So, we’re now at the end of our second Street Slide project. Any highlights?
So many highlights! Each moment watching Brandon and Angus share their skills while they develop and learn as teachers at the same time is such a treat and a unique opportunity for me to share with them. Seeing the energy and excitement that is shared between the group each week is really brilliant. For me learning anything for the first time is exciting and being a part of this process and seeing the pleasure that the dancers get from this is a definite highlight each week.
What’s your own dance experience, how did you become a dance artist and teacher?
I started dancing at my local dance school when I was very small, I fell in love with it straight away and haven’t stopped since. I even chose performing arts at university because I didn’t want to stop dancing. It was so exciting for it to be more than just a hobby for me. I was incredibly lucky to be asked to start teaching at a performing arts school straight after I graduated, and so on Saturdays I would travel out from London to Hertfordshire to teach young people from 4-16 and this is when I realised that I wanted to work with communities and the performing arts. Each week I saw positive things coming out of the work I was doing and was motivated to continue and so to broaden my skills and knowledge I got back into education, studying theatre, all the time dancing myself and teaching and choreographing for others alongside college. I began working in a theatre in Richmond and ran theatre sessions for 7+ years. I realised that I was beginning to edge away from dance and I began to miss it a lot so I decided to bring it back to the forefront of my work as a community artist. I enrolled on the Community Dance course at Laban and I was back hooked straight away, and since finishing in 2015, I have been able to combine my skills and experience and I am very excited by the results so far and looking forward to future projects!
Aside from working with SLIDE, what other projects are you involved in at the moment?
I am the Youth Theatre and Participation Manager at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond so I work there part time and I work as a freelance Youth Theatre Director too. So at the moment I am directing a play for National Theatre Connections Festival with 14 young people aged 15 – 19 and running a variety of projects for the local community in Richmond. I am also assisting weekly carers and toddlers dance sessions in East London and am a member of the Company Support Team for the National Youth Dance Company at Sadler’s Wells. All of which help me to broaden my understanding of this world and each experience informs the others every day.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is meeting new people and dancing with them. For me there is a special connection that is made through our bodies that is exciting and new every time and one that can’t be found in any other way. Seeing these moments happen between people who have never met is beautiful, but most of all, it is always surprising.
Great fun for ALL AGES as we skip, promenade and do-si-do our way through the evening! There’s time along the way for a quick ploughmans supper (that’s a plateful of cheese and crackers) and the now infamous SLiDE raffle. A licenced bar is also on hand, in case you need some dutch courage!
Tickets*: £8 adults advance ticket, £10 on door
£5 for under 18s
Under 5’s are FREE
*Includes a ploughman’s supper
TO BOOK CONTACT GEMMA:
Text/call: 07887 781361
Travel details: Parking is available in the Sainsbury’s car park. BUS routes 64/433 from East Croydon station.
All proceeds go to SLiDE, an inclusive not for profit dance company based in Croydon. With your support we can continue our work with disabled and non disabled people of ALL ages and ALL abilties. www.slidedance.org.
SLiDE is recruiting a small group of champions to help us grow. We need people who know a little bit about SLiDE and would be interested in contributing to the future direction of the company. That means helping us to make decisions about the types of projects we run. We’d also like our champions to tell people about our work, so more people know about it, and attend some our events/performances, such as the SLiDE annual ceilidh.
We are looking for a diverse group of people. You might be a young person, or retired. Maybe you have a disability. You could be a parent, teacher, active Croydon community member or simply you LOVE the arts. These are not the only options, our champions could be anywhere!!!!!
You might need support in this role, and that’s ok too. We will be offering some training and mentoring to our champions so you fully understand your role.
The champions will meet up to 3 times a year in Croydon, as well as attending some SLiDE events/performances.
If you think this is something you would like to do please get in touch with Gemma on 07887 781361 or email us: email@example.com.
We can also provide you with more information if you need it.
THIS weekend we are sliding for slide and we are looking for your support!
SLiDE Artists, Directors, Dancers, family and friends will be sliding and dancing all weekend across Croydon. You can get sponsored and slide with us for a day, meet us for a boogie in one of the parks en route* or (and equally as helpful) EMAIL US with a pledge. We have so far raised over £300 but we know we can do better than that!
DAY 1: SATURDAY 12TH SEPTEMBER
10 am meeting point Seldson Halls (CR2 8LD) sliding through Selsdon and onto New Addington. Finish approx 6pm.
Day 2: SUNDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER
10am meeting point playground at Addiscombe Rec (CR0 7HR) and onto South Norwood then Upper Norwood. Finish approx 6pm.
Why are we sliding?
Well apart from it being immensely fun we do need to raise essential funds to keep SLiDE dancing in the community, so we can deliver projects like ‘5 with SLiDE‘.
Thank you for any form of support you can give us! For more info get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org/07887 781361
Gemma, Anita and the SLiDE Team
SATURDAY 12th SEPT
10am meet at Selsdon Halls (CR2 8LD)
10.30am Seldsdon Recreation Ground (CR2 8PH)
11.30am Edgecoombe play area (CR2 8AA)
12.15pm Courtwood Playground (CR0 9NA)
1pm Addington Park (CR0 5AR)
2.30pm Rowdown Fields (CR0 9DY)
3.30pm Northdown (CR0 0LJ)
4.30pm Addington Vale/Queen Elizabeth Drive (CR0 0HB)
5.30pm Hares Bank (CR0 0HB)
SUNDAY 13th SEPT
10am Addiscombe Rec (CR0 7HR)
11am Ashburton Park (CR0 6NN)
12pm South Norwood Country Park (SE25 4RN)
1pm Apsley Road (SE25 4XS)
3pm South Norwood Lakes (SE19 2SG)
4pm Westow Park (SE19 3PN)
5pm The Lawns (SE19 3TZ)
This book literally just popped through my letter box, pretty good timing as we’re reaching out to ask for your support! Our fun-raiser is almost upon us and already we’ve had some pledges of support in, we’re so grateful. We’ve also had some
fun challenges, so you’ll probably find us sliding whilst trying to drink a coffee (flat white thanks) and painting our nails.
This time, we’ll be sliding “live” on air via Periscope. We’re excited about the possibilities of this new format, and it’s potential to connect people from all over the place (world!), something you know we love doing. If you haven’t had a look yet, here is the app: https://appsto.re/gb/TXw_5.i
We’ve been thinking a lot about how we use the Internet recently: how it can bring us together but can also sometimes isolate us. So, while of course you can follow our antics on social media, we would LOVE to meet you, dance and laugh with you in person as well.
It’s not too late to come along with us, or even to just meet us at one of the parks on the way. Just email us to let us know you are coming along for the slide!!
Right, back to my reading…
At SLiDE we think it’s time to demystify some dance myths and really get to the bottom of that age old question: so what is creative dance?
We’re going to start by explaining what it’s not. It’s not…..
…spending time in a dance studio channelling your inner tree.
…being asked to devise a 30 second post-modern reinterpretation of ‘Thriller’ (Although that does sound rather cool)
…just rolling around on the floor.
…learning a set dance routine
But, equally, it could be all of the above, if any of it sounds appealing. Because creative dance is about YOU! It’s about playing, discovering, exploring and celebrating the different ways we all like to dance.
So, for us, creative dance is:
…getting people together in a room for a defined period of time, generally about 2 hours.
…forgetting everything else apart from being in that room and having fun.
That’s pretty much it. Oh, except you will also be given the time to drink tea and listen to a fantastic array of music which cannot fail to make you want to move.
And if you still don’t think you’ve grasped what it is (and actually we wouldn’t blame you) there are two things you can do:
We (that’s Anita & Gemma) seem to be all over the place at the moment. But in a really good way, as SLIDE is moving upwards and all kinds of ways.
2015 is about developing our community projects with new monthly dance workshop for adults with learning disabilities, in collaboration with CALAT and Club Soda. We kicked off in January when we were joined by 20 brilliant dancers. We can’t wait for the next one: 21st Feb. Book here.
In the Spring we will be delivering a series of workshops for families to promote active and healthy living, supported by a grant from Croydon Heart Town (CVA). More details on this to come!
AND…..SLiDE and The BRIT School have been selected to perform at Trinity Laban as part of U.Dance, a national youth dance festival led by Youth Dance England. Performance date: Sunday 26th April.
Excitingly we are both Artists in Residence in the coming weeks. Anita was selected to spend a week in Stanley Halls developing a new piece for families with storyteller Naqiya Ebrahim, as well as her own children who are 5 and 3. Stanley Halls is about to open after 15 years so we are excited to be part of this special event for South Norwood! The event is 13th February, tickets: Invention Theatre. Whilst Gemma will be Artist in Residence at Brandon Library in Southwark, part of the SPINE festival with Apples and Snakes.
On February 14th, we head to Move It! We will join the inclusive dance conversation, represented by Candoco, Stopgap and SLiDE, when we will share insights into our practice through our work in schools and the community.
Last time I looked we were dancing in a park in glorious sun! But time has flown and what with little people starting school, Gemma dancing in Japan, sliding down slides AND a nomination to be Croydon Art Champion, we have been busy!
So what next? We are excitedly planning our ceilidh for Saturday 29th November! Anita is working with The Friends of Oasis Shirley Park Academy and Director Owen Kingston to create a magical installation for the Christmas fare, taking a new look into performance for families. Gemma has been working at the Royal Academy of Dance on Step into Dance’s first ever integrated community project. Fun times!
Finally, drum roll, we want to show you the winning drawings and poem our Come Slide with us event!
There are more drawings, poems and photographs taken by the children in our new Children’s Gallery.
Naturally our visit wasn’t complete without trying out the ‘Sliding gate’, an installation of slides by artist Sean Griffiths, which couldn’t have been better timed!
My challenge Woman vs Slide, was completed with style and panache. Apart from the size 9 flip flops I had to wear for most of the second day (long story!) I raised a whopping £928, which will enable SLiDE to hire space for approx 44 hours, setting up some new pilot groups. As a thank you to our 40 backers and various supporters, check out this compilation of my slides!
‘Come slide with us!’ last Sunday drew the celebrations to a close, with SLiDE joined by Levantes Dance Theatre and Parkour Dance. The weather was fantastic and, by the finale in Lloyd Park, the audience had reached over 100. The aim was to bring our SLiDE values of play, fun, accessibility and creativity to Croydon’s parks and that was definitely achieved!
We have so many people to thank, including the Univetsity of Brighton, Economic and Social Engagement department, Snappy Snaps Croydon, Kevin Ahronson, Beanies, and all the Artists and staff who made the event a success. Plus the man and his dog who took Anita and I on a much appreciated short cut from South Norwood Lakes to Westow Park!