Insert Title Here: How Croydon’s SLiDE company invites you to view, reflect and dance

By - Tuesday 12th June, 2018

Our diverse dance company brings people together through movement and artistic expression

Photo by Peter Ball, used with permission.

Would you catch me if I fell?
You arranged, positioned and orbited me with thought and care, responding to my body.
Together we revisited a memory looking deep, seeing afresh.
Uncovering images, intention, authenticity and summer filled the room.
Is it really April?

Yep, it was really April (in a heatwave) and the SLiDE (South London Inclusive Dance Experience) was in the studio developing our latest intergenerational dance performance. I say ‘latest’, but actually it had been a while, over four years, since our last full-length piece. Like most creative processes, it came with a fair amount of hope and uncertainty, knowing and full on what the hell are we doing-ness… However, I needn’t have worried as the conditions were right: the right people in the right place at the right time.

Maybe it is the diversity of the performers aged eighteen to sixty-two, some with a disability, some with professional-level training and experience, but through our process of being together, we created harmony and support. Or as recent audience member at the recent Croydonites Festival of New Theatre show reflected, “I would describe the piece as ‘destination happiness’, an inspirational way of being. It was very moving”.

Photo by Peter Ball, used with permission.

<Insert Title Here> started with an invite to a host of artists, dancers, a cellist from the London Mozart Players and a selection of SLiDE dancers, to join the process. The invitation carries on into the piece, with the audience invited to name it by providing suggestions on a postcard. The premiere at the Croydonites Festival of New Theatre resulted in the title: ‘Ships and walls: where old memories fell‘. 

The invite is now firmly with the Croydon community as we take the core elements of the piece ‘on the road’. So far we have danced with Indian dance students at Apsara Arts and with elders at the Croydon African Caribbean Family Organisation. Thanks to one of our dancers, Takeshi Matsumoto, who is originally from Japan, we have been able to share a traditional Japanese folk dance with these groups. This folk dance has transcended cultural differences and has ‘spoken’ to those who have dance it with us (something for future investigation here), as well as providing a jubilant ending to our performance.

There is one more invitation to join us as we will be performing <Insert Title Here> as part of the Crystal Palace Festival on Sunday 17th June at 3pm. Tickets are £5 for adults and under 18s are free. We are already looking forward to sharing this work again and wondering what the audience will name it!

No one quite knew how we got there but a knowing togetherness emerged.

Photo by Sophie Standford, used with permission.

South London Inclusive Dance Experience (SLiDE) is a Croydon based charity, no.1164827. This project has been funded by Arts Council England and Croydon Council.

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 is a Lecturer 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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