A Slough dance degree programme has seen students go on to perform at the Brit Awards with P!nk and Hugh Jackman.
Creative Academy is a partnership between Slough Borough Council and the University of West London, offering full time nationally recognised vocational dance training, through the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre.
Creative Academy offers a Foundation Degree in Dance and BA (Hons) Dance Top Up, which currently has 100 per cent of graduates gain employment in the creative industries or go on to further professional study.
As well as the Brits performance, students have performed nationally, including four mainstage pieces at ‘Move It’ 2019, Can You Dance 2018 and Pride 2018 with O2.
They have also gone into teaching roles, cruise ship performances and other television work.
This year, Creative Academy received a Slough Council for Voluntary Sector Partnership Award in recognition of their work with the Slough community. Students have worked with children, young people and older residents across the borough, including work with Active Slough, Haybrook College, Slough Schools Sport Network, a residential care home (pictured below), and more than 13 schools and academies.
Feedback from these groups has been positive.
James Rooney, from St Anthony’s School, said: “The response from both the children and staff has been amazing and we were all thoroughly impressed with the professionalism, work ethic and subject knowledge shown by both groups on both days. They are a credit to the institution and to themselves as young trainees and professionals.”
Tania Pell, of the Forget Me Not Home, said: "The residents have attended dance performances, they have thoroughly enjoyed watching. One dance was choreographed after chatting to our residents about their lives and experiences. To watch this dance was very powerful and emotional.
"Our residents, some who were ballerinas or ballroom dancers, are always excited to have the students dance at the home and then stay on to reminisce about their old dancing days.
"We are extremely grateful to the students for taking the time to perform for our residents and to George Kirkham, Creative Academy manager, for organising the performances."
More people, more active, more often
The Creative Academy is developing a new offer specifically designed to encourage more local people to engage in dance.
This will result in more people being more active, more often, and lead to recognised qualifications through the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing or Pilates with Active IQ.
The team is also redesigning the level 4, 5 and 6 qualifications to bring a new offer to graduates and young people, ensuring Slough creates confident choreographers, performers and teachers, with the skills for lifelong careers.
This will be unique for the local authority and the vocational dance sector, developing a programme which offers levels 3 through to 7 (Masters programmes).
Looking to the future
Through the Creative Saturdays programme, which has been running for three terms, Creative Academy has engaged with 160 young people aged 3-21.
George Kirkham, Creative Academy manager, said: “This has had a positive impact on the wellbeing of the young people, providing the opportunity to develop dance technique, increase physical activity, make friends and gain recognised qualifications.”
One participant, Malakai Waldrobe, said: “Being part of Creative Saturdays has built my confidence and encouraged me to develop a career in dance. I’m hoping to join the full time programme next September.”
More information is available on the Creative Academy website.