Croydon’s SLiDE Dance at the U.Dance national festival 2017

By - Monday 14th August, 2017

A heart-warming and inspiring event for Croydon’s young dancers

In rehearsal.
Photo by Vipul Sangoi, used with permission.

SLiDE Dance was founded in 2013. It’s a registered charity and its aim is to offer beginner level contemporary dance to everyone, regardless of  ability or previous experience. In July, we were proud to represent London at the National Youth Dance Festival, U.Dance 2017, held in Birmingham.

U. Dance 2017 is an annual four day dance festival which took place this year from 14th – 17th July and was attended by thirty youth dance groups. Each represented an area of the UK and all had won a regional platform to attend. The festival included high quality dance workshops with Birmingham Royal Ballet, Candoco Dance Company and many others, careers seminars, a ceilidh and three performances at the Birmingham Hippodrome. This was also the first time the SLiDE company has performed outside London.

SLiDE Youth Company meets weekly at the Brit School and its eighteen members include young people with a learning disability and community arts students from the school. Everyone rose to the occasion: the young dancers gained in confidence from dancing at U.Dance and were so proud to represent SLiDE at the event. They were brimming with excitement during the event and even before we got back to Croydon they were asking what dance we will be entering next year.

Photo by Vipul Sangoi, used with permission,

Sharing a stage with the National Youth Dance Company of England was a real honour for SLiDE, and hearing from leading figures from the industry, such as Richard Alston, helped create an unforgettable experience.

Josie Sovegjarto, head of Community Arts Practice at the Brit School, saw the difference taking part in the event made. “The students had so much to say and share with their peers after the trip”, she commented. “They were truly inspired by the weekend and were very grateful for the opportunity. Several of them tried dance styles for the first time ever, such as bharatanatyam, a classical Indian dance style’.

All the group’s members are excited for the future, to continue dancing and to build career in the arts. As one of the dancers, Vwegba Obar, said: “I enjoyed being able to perform on such an amazing stage, meeting the other dance groups and watching their performances. The careers seminars were also great and I enjoyed asking questions to the leading professionals. I would say U.Dance 2017 was heart warming, inspiring and challenging”.

SLiDE would like to thank supporters from the Brit School, the Jack Petchey Foundation, Greenwich Dance, all donors to our crowdfunding campaign and the families of the dancers who helped to get us to U.Dance.

And if you think you’ve got what it takes to join Croydon’s leading inclusive youth dance company, please


Gemma Coldicott

Gemma Coldicott

Gemma has been leading dance in community settings for 10 years, working in schools, colleges and using dance to bring disparate communities together. She has lectured at the University of Brighton on the MA Inclusive Arts Practice and works at the Royal Academy of Dance on its programme of dance for children with disabilities. Gemma co-founded SLiDE in her home borough of Croydon and is exceptionally passionate about inspiring local residents to engage with dance and the arts.

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