Any performing arts project which operates across 150 schools in 18 London boroughs gets my vote. This year 3,658 young people are taking part in Step Into Dance - the open access dance initiative. That is over 1,500 more than last year.
And it gets better. 24% of the participants are boys and 11% of the children involved have special educational needs. There are now 27 SEN schools taking part, including Pupil Referral Units - 5 more than in 2010.
The scheme takes free dance training, in the form of extra-curricular classes, into schools. The young people get the chance to explore dance disciplines “from ballroom to Bollywood, from jazz to jive and everything in between including contemporary, hip-hop, street dance, African and Latin.”
For the fourth consecutive year, some of this work will be showcased in Step LIVE 2011 at Sadler’s Wells on July 17th from 4.30 pm (with the show starting at 6.30pm). 416 participants took part in Step LIVE 2010.
London boroughs included are Haringey, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Bexley, Islington, Camden, Tower Hamlets, Bromley, Merton, Enfield, Croydon, Southwark, Lambeth, Greenwich, Barnet and Waltham Forest
There’s continuity, too. Some schools have been consistently involved with Step into Dance for four years since it launched in 2006. That means they have had the advantage of being able to develop dance techniques throughout this period.
Step into Dance and Step LIVE! are led by the Royal Academy Of Dance. They are funded by the Jack Petchey Foundation, a philanthropic organisation which has worked with young people for 11 years by providing grants and support for young achievers.
Step into Dance is clearly going from strength to strength with a winning formula which really works - ever more youngsters are getting the chance to dance. Bravo.