Woking dancers took to the stage as Dance Woking ended 2023 on a high note despite a 100% cut of their regular funding by Woking Borough Council in September.
November 2023 saw Dance Woking host its annual series of platforms, where 294 dancers took to Rhoda McGaw Theatre stage from 32 different dance and school groups. The platform series included Young Dance Makers for schools & colleges; Step UP a new platform presenting a highly eclectic mix of dance styles and Innovate, a contemporary led dance platform.
This series was hosted by Dance Woking, supported by Arts Council England; to enable local dancers platform opportunities to showcase their work.
Ten local schools from across Woking and Surrey took part in Young Dance Makers Platform, the stimulus Recycle, Renew & Reuse which focused on the environment and sustainability to create imaginative and dynamic dance pieces that linked with issues affecting the world around us. School groups, created their work in after school clubs working with a Dance Woking artist over a period of 8 weeks. With over 111 students taking part from nine schools: Horsell Village School, New Monument Primary Academy, Westfield Primary School, Beaufort Primary School, Frogmore College alongside guest groups from Woking College, Guildford College, Kings International College and Ibstock Place School.
Highlights included Horsell Village School with ‘My Heart was a Tree’, the group used Michael Morpurgo’s Poem Driftwood as their stimulus looking at the life cycle and uses of a tree. New Monument Primary Academy performed a piece ‘Where do the toys go’ as they explored the unloved, broken and old toys. Beaufort Primary School’s piece Weather Storm explored extreme weather caused by climate change. Guildford College explored the theme of recycling passing hand-me- downs between siblings. Westfield Primary School explored recycling, this time taking steps from the 1950’s and 1920’s called ‘Recycling the ages’, supported by Woking College’s Dance Leaders throughout the process. Woking College closed the show with their piece ‘Reflecting thinking’, Year 13 dancers used work with Rhythmic Collision to create ‘Man in the Mirror’ which included signing within the piece.
Step UP dance platform brought different dance genres together. The performance pieces were both joyous and diverse with some great tunes from well-known musicals, to classical, pop to original live music. We were delighted to be able to showcase a new piece by Jane Chan who has been developing her own creative practice supported by Amina Khayyam Dance, accompanied by live music from International tabla player Debasish Mukherjee and in complete contrast, Diana Towe, a local dancer who hailed from Dance Woking’s Youth group Evolve and recently gaining the 2023 World Tap Solo Championship title. 61 dancers took to the stage from 10 different dance groups including Leanne Edwards School of dance (LESTA), Cremona School of Dance, Kidz Got Talent and Chinese Association of Woking who performed A Drop of Heaven.
Innovate Dance Platform brought together Dance Schools from across the county together to showcase their best work. The dance schools share a mix of works including more festive pieces as we headed towards Christmas. 122 dancers took to the stage from twelve groups including First dance studios, Zambesi dance company, Cremona School of dance, Alexandra Dance Company, Dance Shack and Betty Bloom Dance Company.
Dance Woking’s Artistic Director, Sam McCaffrey said, ‘as I reflect on the final months of 2023 I am very proud of how Dance Woking has used dance to change lives and navigate through a difficult year. From presenting platform opportunities, a tour to over 65’s, to a holiday club for children aged 7 to 11 years. I was really inspired by the work presented at the three different dance platforms we produced in November by the dance groups. Dance is so diverse and enables truly imaginative, creative, expression, which we encourage as part of our teaching process. The opportunity to produce these platforms has been an honour and one that I hope we will be able to continue, despite a very challenging environment for us as an organisation. It amazes me how the dancers are able to come together and perform their best in front of family and friends, hold their nerves in check and use this energy to positive advantage in their performance and shine. The Young dancemakers platform introduced children to the stage for the first time, helping to build their self-esteem, confidence, encouraged by peer to peer support. The Step Up platform presented an opportunity for Jane Chan, a dancer with Amina Khayyam’s Dance Company, to present her own work to a new audience. It was also an opportunity to celebrate Diana Towe’s world tap success. Innovate Dance Platform, started twelve years ago, providing opportunities for aspiring dancers to showcase their work, and continues to grow from strength to strength, it once again didn’t fail to delight and surprise a packed theatre. Following the platforms Dance Woking went on tour to eight-care homes reaching 140 people with a Christmas Social tea dance tour supported by Surrey Community Foundation. The week before Christmas we ran a holiday club for children aged 7 to 11 years supported by Active Surrey. I’m not sure what 2024 will hold as we celebrate 30 years of dance Woking. We are open to and seeking new partnerships as we pursue new opportunities for the year ahead, if you’d like to get in touch please contact us through our website www.dancewoking.com’
Dance Woking is a charity, based in Woking that uses dance in all its forms to bring communities together through extensive education and outreach delivery through their Inspire programme. As the organisation heads into a 30-year legacy of dance centered creative experiences, the organisation faces its greatest challenge to date. The withdrawal of grant funding from Woking Borough Council has left the organisation in a perilous financial situation and facing an uncertain future. We are looking for new partners.
Dance Woking is a charity, changing lives through dance
Since 1994 Dance Woking has been proud of the impact it has had on Woking residents and more widely key partners in Surrey. In the past 12 months 3796 individuals took part in a Dance Woking workshop, leading to 7055 unique engagements. A total of 66 groups including after school clubs and community based dance groups took part in one of our platforms.
Dance Woking employed 148 Freelance Creatives/pro dancers to help deliver our programme of activities; creating 494 employment days for dance artists, dance companies, technicians employed to deliver our activities/events.
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