2022 has been a monumental year for Greenwich Dance.
As we look back over the last twelve months, we reflect on what we have achieved for our participants and feel excited for the year ahead.
Having launched our brand new Adult Performance Company only a short while before Christmas, we were excited to see this enthusiastic group start to work towards performing for their family and friends.
Adult Performance Company
During half term, we were supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to take interactive dance game Dance Your Socks Off to Passey Place in Eltham, with the aim of encouraging shoppers back to the high street post-pandemic. Participants were invited to try different dance styles before battling to be the best dancer and win a goody bag full of prizes donated by local shops in the borough. Dance Your Socks Off is one of the projects available to buy on our innovative ideas sharing platform, ArtsUnboxed.
During the same week, Tracerz, supported by Young Greenwich, bounded into Greenwich Park as young people learned new skills in parkour and filmmaking with their own phones.
Dance Your Socks Off in Eltham. Photo: Shermaine Slocombe
In the Spring of 2022, we were approached by archivists from the British Library, who wanted to include our Life in Lockdown blog series in their pandemic archive. The series was created as a way of financially supporting artists who had had their work cancelled because of covid. Each artist offered up creative diary style blogs about how they were coping with the lockdown conditions. The series is still available to view on our website.
A screen grab of our Life in Lockdown blog series
April was a big month for us as we moved our base of operations from Charlton House to The Nest, a new purpose built office and studio space in the heart of a new area of regeneration – Thamesmead. The developers of the new estate, Peabody, have taken strides to ensure that artists and arts organisations are part of the fabric of this area which staddles two boroughs (Bexley and Greenwich) often making cultural provision complicated for residents.
Our new home, The Nest. Photo: Lucy White
We celebrated our move by filming our Lindy Hop Online Tutorials in the studio and made them available online. These fun tutorials taught by Temujin Gill and Wendy Steatham, have been a great way to introduce people to the art form and give intriguing details about its roots in African American history.
Temujin Gill and Wendy Steatham giving an introduction to Lindy Hop
April also saw us taking our youth dance programme NRgDance back into community centres for the first time since the pandemic. It has been great to see so many young people getting back into moving and being together again.
NRgDance. Photo: Roswitha Chesher
Throughout May we were busy distributing our fifth podcast series. Talking Moves gives artists the opportunity to talk about the ideas and issues that are moving them at the moment, and in series five we covered some hot topics including Parenting in the Arts, Making Accessible Work and Environment and Touring. Each and every one of the conversations we’ve had with artists have been a brilliant way of importing and exporting ideas as we take inspiration from the insights that the artists we’ve featured have had to offer.
“I just wanted to thank you for such a brilliant and enlightening conversation. The work of this podcast is more powerful than we all realise. Openly talking, sharing and enabling artists and producers is brave and much needed.” Tom Hobden, independent artist
Recording Talking Moves with Melanie Precious, Valerie Ebuwa and Kwesi Johnson. Photo: Creative Kin
The majority of our Lindy Hop Social Nights took place in June in community centres in Abbey Wood, Glyndon, Charlton and Shooter’s Hill. Led by professional Lindy Hop teachers – Temujin Gill, Wendy Steatham and Sunanda Biswas from Grounded Movement – these fun social nights started off with a class and followed on with refreshments and a chance to cut a rug on the dance floor. The events were hugely popular, bringing people back together when we had all been separated for so long, promoting intergenerational social cohesion. Our youngest participant was just 18 months old! Supported by Royal Borough of Greenwich’s BHM365 fund, these were also a great way of communicating the origins of Lindy Hop from African American culture in the dance halls of Harlem.
Lindy Hop Social Night at Charlton Assembly Rooms
Lindy Hop Social Night at Shrewsbury House. Photo: Roswitha Chesher
To call July epic would be an understatement. This was the month that we launched our Summer in the Park events. Taking place across five wards it saw 34 performances across 12 days of events spanning 6 weeks. Over 3,000 people engaged with our events which hosted 63 professional and 90 nonprofessional artists. Each event was a big success and we were thrilled to see so many residents from the borough and beyond having a great time with friends and family, discovering new parts of the borough they might not ordinarily go to and offering their thoughts on what they wanted to see at the events. We can’t wait to get started on next year’s plans!
Summer in the Park. Filmed at the Maryon Park Picnic by Thomas Rosser
Summer in the Park. Photo: Roswitha Chesher
Alongside our festival events we ran three new classes in Greenwich Park. Tai Chi led by local legend Chew-Yeen Lawes, Kiduku Rhythms – a fun and funky dance class inspired by dance from Tanzania, and Family Story Walks which led groups around the park revealing interesting histories about some of Greenwich’s notorious residents.
Tai Chi in the Park. Photo: The Royal Parks
Kiduku Rhythms in Greenwich Park
Also during the month of August, we took ArtsUnboxed boxes The RIDDLE by NOCTURN and Spin Arts and MidSummerland by Anatomical and Claire Summerfield to General Gordon Square in Woolwich for Holiday Fun Fridays. On a couple of occasions, we were joined by dancing character Pæn who was on hand to help participants trying to solve The RIDDLE.
The RIDDLE - costumed character Pæn poses in front of a group of children. Photo: Kajsa Sundström
After the Summer, MidSummerland had a second outing – this time to the London Bridge Festival. Participants were able to listen to Anatomical’s enchanting story about going to a magical festival… and following the directions, found themselves dancing!
MidSummerland at London Bridge Festival. Photo: London Bridge Festival
In October, the Greenwich Dance team attended the Best of Royal Greenwich Business Awards where the organisation was shortlisted in the Health and Wellbeing category. We were thrilled to be recognised for our dedication to our participants and the impact that dance has on health and wellbeing. Congratulations go to worthy winners Help Save Lives.
The Greenwich Dance team at the Best of Royal Greenwich Business Awards. Photo: Royal Borough of Greenwich
October also saw us help Royal Borough of Greenwich launch the new year of BHM365 when Temujin Gill and Sunanda Biswas gave launch guests a taste of Lindy Hop excellence.
— Royal Borough of Greenwich (@Royal_Greenwich) September 30, 2022
Our youth programmes NRgDance and Lotus returned to community centres across the borough after the half term break. Young people aged 8 – 19 have the opportunity to take part in dance classes and learn foundations in street dance and hip hop styles – supporting friendship building as well as physical and mental health.
“It’s amazing. There’s lots of amazing dancers, the teachers are great.” NRgDance participant
Lotus Youth Dance. Photo: Roswitha Chesher
Our Dance for Wellbeing programme supporting people at risk of loneliness wraps up for the year in December. We currently have four classes taking place in community centres in Eltham, Woolwich, Plumstead and Charlton and we’ll be adding another two next year!
“My goal was to turn up! I’ve not had the confidence to join a dance class before. I really enjoyed it both physically and mentally. Sadly, during the pandemic, my mother passed away. Previously to that, I felt that I couldn’t try dance, as it would be frowned upon by my family, but I have found the confidence to try, and I am proud of myself for giving it a go!” participant of our Dance for Wellbeing programme.
Dance for Wellbeing. Photo: Alliey Gee
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our funders this year including: Royal Borough of Greenwich, Arts Council England, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, City Bridge Trust, Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Young Greenwich, The Royal Parks, European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Peabody.
We’d also like to thank everyone who took part in a class, came to an event or downloaded a podcast. You are the reason we continue to deliver high quality classes and events across the borough and beyond, and we can’t wait to see even more of you next year!