Artistry Youth Dance

© Carole Edrich

Artistry Youth Dance (AYD) is a vibrant youth dance company that showcases and celebrates dancers of African and Caribbean descent, aged 14-25 years. A not for profit, community organisation, that promotes diversity in dance and encourages the achievement of success through dance. The youth dance company work with the highest calibre of dance artists, choreographers and dance companies to create innovate work for performances. The group was established in April 2013 and has since had 50 dancers involved in the regular youth dance company. The AYD patron is Namron, OBE and receive support from Islington Council, Urdang Academy, City and Islington College, and Lignum Vitae Club. The Company aims to contribute to a more culturally diverse representation of performers in the UK dance industry. It also enables young dancers to achieve a sense of empowerment, the ability to achieve success, and the reinforcement that they are talented, important, and have something of value to offer society. It enables the young people to further advance their skills in dance and improve their chances of going onto further education and a career in the Arts. AYD support the dancers to develop a range of life skills that can be applied to any career path they choose to pursue. The dancers have weekly classes/rehearsals in Jazz, Ballet, Horton Technique, and Contemporary dance and African diaspora styles led by a team of qualified and experienced dance artists. Rehearsals are held every Sunday from 11.00am- 4.30pm to develop technique and rehearse performance pieces. Regular dance artists include Artistic director Kamara Gray (Jazz Dance), Heather Benson (Horton Technique, former dancer with Philadanco, USA) and Mbulelo Ndabeni (Ballet, Contemporary, African Dance, Artistic Director of N’Da Dance Company) The main style that Artistic Director, Kamara Gray, works with is Jazz Dance, which originates from African dance forms. The other pieces that we have that showcase dance forms of the African Diaspora have been choreographed by Miguel Altunaga (Cuban dance), Shelley Maxwell (Caribbean Dance), Mbulelo Ndabeni (African Dance), and Alesandra Seutin (Contemporary African Dance). AYD also have workshops with leading choreographers, dance artists, and companies including Hip-Hop, Jazz, Tap, Caribbean and Musical Theatre. Examples include Anthony Burrell who contacted AYD directly to request a Masterclass with the youth dance company, whilst in London on tour with Mariah Carey. Anthony also offered 2 dancers a scholarship to attend his ‘Breaking Barriers’ Summer Intensive in Philadelphia, USA (August 2016). Flights and tuition were paid for by himself. Further examples include, Ballet Black, Jeroboam Bozeman of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Namron, Savion Glover, Miguel Altunaga of Rambert Dance Company, Phoenix Dance Theatre, Alleyne Dance, Shelley Maxwell, Alesandra Seutin, Arts Educational school, Vicki Igbokwe of Uchenna Dance, Bianca Boyce in Life Coaching, Empowerment, Brandon Lawrence of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Elsabet Yonas, Irie Dance Theatre and Traailblazers Rachael Nanyonjo and Yami Lofvenberg. The Company has been invited to perform at numerous youth dance platforms and events across London and the UK. The dancers have performed at Jamaican High Commission events on several occasions, including their recent ‘Youth Forum’, attended by the Jamaican High Commissioner, His Excellency Mr Seth George Ramocan and special guests. Other previous performances include: VIP guest performers at Move It 2017 (Move It & Capezio Dance Championships stage); Regional finalists for U.Dance London (2014 and 2016), Laban Theatre; One Dance UK’s Re:Generations Conference (Birmingham, 2016); Phoenix Dance Theatre’s youth dance platform, ‘Restec’ (Leeds & London) and The Nay Triple Bill with Mbulelo Ndabeni and N’da Dance Company (Richmix, London). It is important for the young people to have the chance to learn about dance forms of the African Diaspora so that they can understand the breadth of styles available. It enables the young people the chance to not only learn the style but also learn about the cultural heritage of the dance styles, creating more versatile dance artists. It also provides the chance to showcase styles such as Jazz dance, African dance, and Caribbean dance with new audiences. It is important that youth dance remains diverse not only in the participants involved but also in the dance styles presented. Kamara Gray – Artistic Director of Artistry Youth Dance Artistry Youth Dance does not currently receive regular funding; therefore they are keen to find organisations and individuals to collaborate with and receive support from. AYD are also always looking for new dancers to join the youth dance company. Email: Website: Facebook: artistryyouthdance Instagram: artistryyouthdance Twitter: @AYDanceCo