Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Sir Ken Robinson told us today about Dance United, an extra-ordinary initiative working with the Youth Offending Services in Bradford and Leeds...

Dance United was founded in 2000 on the conviction and evidence that dance has the power to change lives. Since then, the organisation has delivered projects across the UK and around the world, and has seen hundreds of children, young people, elderly men and women, street and working children, prisoners and many more constituent groups inspired and empowered through dance. Dance as an art form tacitly demands commitment, creativity, teamwork, technical ability, problem-solving, reflection, emotional experience and trust of participants. Dancers can discover or learn these skills without even understanding what the words mean. For this reason, dance can engage everyone, even those who have been excluded, marginalised or written-off by society.

Innovation is at the heart of Dance United's work in the field of social inclusion. For the first five years of its criminal justice programme, Dance United collaborated intensively with prisoners and young offenders. These projects demonstrated the marked success that can be achieved in challenging the lives of offenders through their engagement with dance. Dance United's current work, The Academy, in partnership with Bradford Youth Offending Team and Nacro, harnesses the Dance United approach in a dance-led rehabilitation programme devised for young offenders serving Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programmes. The Academy is the first project of its kind successfully to develop a sustained engagement with participants through an extended programme of intensive contemporary dance training work. The Academy is a tough and demanding process, one that can lead to great personal and social change and growth. The company has already seen significant positive effects on participants: a number of young Academy 'graduates' have returned to education programmes, others have been accepted for further education on BTEC courses at Bradford College and one graduate has just been accepted as a student at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. If you want to find out more visit their website at http://www.dance-united.com and watch the video at http://www.dance-united.com/theacademy_video.html. It's brilliant!

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