Love2DanceArts | Health and Wellbeing | Isolation/Loneliness | Sports | Young People
What is the project?
Love2Dance is a partnership between Lewisham Homes and the Albany, a performing arts centre in Deptford.
For the 420 young people a year who take part, Love2Dance is more than just a streetdance programme. On top of improving physical fitness and enabling young participants to connect with each other and make friends, Love2Dance is crucially about using dance to express yourself creatively, build confidence and develop leadership skills.
Classes are delivered by freelance artists, led by choreographer Aaron Augustus, a former IDO World Hip-Hop Dance Champion, with additional support from youth workers.
Who is the project targeted at?
It provides weekly term time sessions across three sites in Lewisham – Sydenham, Honor Oak and Deptford – for 5-18 year olds, who take part in workshops, classes, masterclasses and live performances.
Lewisham Homes residents make up more than half of Love2Dance’s performers. Many of them also attend the Albany’s other youth programmes. While recent research projects have highlighted the significant lack of ethnic diversity in the creative sector currently, the Albany is an exception: 87% of the young people it works with on its programmes are from BAME backgrounds.
Why did the project come about?
The Albany’s relationship with Lewisham Homes allows the centre to deliver its dance programme right in the heart of Lewisham’s communities and really market it to people living in social housing.
The Albany promotes the initiative through the housing association’s channels, such as its newsletter, magazine and house drops. This has been a game-changer in terms of reaching incredible, diverse and talented young people. The partnership has resulted in the Albany being able to connect with young people where they live, in places which are local, accessible and relevant.
How was this project funded?
The programme is funded by Lewisham Homes so is free to all those involved.
Outcomes so far
In 2018, the initiative won the Arts and Culture Award at the London Youth Awards, a testament to the impact that Love2Dance has had on young people in Lewisham, many of whom are living in low socio-economic areas in the borough.
As a result of Love2Dance’s success, the Albany received funding to develop their digital offer, using young people’s interest in dance as a platform to give them new skills. They are taught video making, familiarised the young people with new technologies and encouraged them to creatively explore what they can do with just their phones and a laptop.
Its peer mentor scheme, which sees those who have been through the programme take on teaching roles within it, has been particularly successful at developing the leadership skills of young people. Even though many who participate don’t aspire to careers in dance, the skills that Love2Dance fosters – imagination, creativity, and confidence – often open up career and job opportunities in a diverse range of other industries.
As well as an annual showcase where young people come together to perform for parents and the wider community in the main theatre at the Albany, Love2Dance also produces one full-length hip hop theatre production. This sells out to local audiences each year, a clear indication of the community’s interest and support for the programme.
In community investment terms, Love2Dance’s success translates easily into numbers: for every £1 invested in Love2Dance, the community receives £4.33 in social value, a number derived from the Social Value Bank.
Love2Dance will continue to demonstrate the power of arts initiatives in building and connecting local communities.
Kirsty Collander-Brown / Kareem Dayes