Photography: Pari Naderi
In 2006 we launched the award winning Academy programme in Bradford, West Yorkshire. It was here that we developed our contemporary dance training model working with young offenders and those marginalised in society. Today we have Academy programmes running in Yorkshire, Wessex and London.
The Academy programme is proven to work. Young people commit to attending five days a week, six hours a day. They discover the joy of learning and often return to education and training, leading to a wide range of career routes.
While maintaining contemporary dance training of a professional standard as the programme’s main focus, we have designed and implemented a NOCN (National Open
College Network) accredited ‘stealth’ curriculum leading to qualifications at levels 1 and 2, that includes basic literacy and numeracy skills. The Academy also works on the fitness, nutrition and health of participants.
The Academy demands professional standards of discipline and performance. In return, we provide a high quality environment which provides support and respect for participants. Mental discipline and control are vital parts of the process; they underpin the focus and embodied confidence that professional dance practice requires.
The programme culminates in public performances which demand cooperation and responsibility. This often leads to a sense of achievement, which, in return, encourages ambition.
After the Academy
On leaving the Academy, some participants go on to further dance training, but the main focus is on transferable skills and attitudes, underpinned by a new and growing sense of self-belief and self-worth. We have a range of exit strategies in place to assist the young people in their next steps which are implemented in the final weeks of the Academy. Some graduates return as role models on future cohorts and others join our performance companies.
We continue to evaluate the effectiveness of our Academy programmes using the evaluation methodology developed by Dr Sarah Staves from the University of Manchester.