Impact Youth

© Brian Slater

Hakeem Onibudo is Impact Dance Artistic director and founder. Impact Youth was created in 1995 to ensure that young people have a safe space through the medium of dance, realise their goals and become fully functioning individuals. Impact Youth have brought up many successful people, for example, Vicki Igbokwe joined Impact Youth when she was 19 and progressed to Impact Youth manager, leader and choreographer before moving onto Uchenna Dance. Also, Annaliese Dayes joined Impact when she was 14 has gone on onto Britain’s Next Top Model and now radio presenter on Heart FM. Impact Youth runs as an academy that feeds into the youth company. They are based at Urdang and train every Saturday 10-3 (2 hours for training then rehearsals). Hakeem is soon to be opening a new academy in Wembley, North West London. The classes are heavily subsidised, working out at £2 a class, making the classes very accessible. The students who can’t access dance through the usual private schools have the opportunity through Impact Youth: a space through dance they can grow, eat if hungry, interact with others, be supported if in trouble and grow. The students are mixed ability aged 11-17 and feed in from Impact’s feeder schools: St. Ursula’s Convent School in Greenwich and Chelsea academy in Chelsea. Impact Youth don’t just train in dance but encourage leadership and choreography. They travel and perform nationally, such as U.Dance 2016 and 2017 and internationally, such as Amsterdam. They are due to create and perform a piece at a huge firework display at Wembley stadium. Impact Youth take on conceptual and narrative work. This is through hip-hop movement because of Hakeem’s hip hop culture upbringing, but also takes in Hakeem’s passion for jazz and classical music. This can be seen in Impact’s current use of music: GoGo Penguin who are a trio jazz band from Manchester. Hakeem in intrigued by their classical base with a funky edge. Hakeem tries not to use commercial music but likes to give the youth company music that will open their creativity and musical interpretation. To open their minds to what music and they can be. Impact Youth uses hip hop techniques but more on the basis that they create movement that will relate to a narrative and/or conception of the choreography. For example, a dance piece called Red Mist is about the apocalyptic world questioned the dancers: how would you feel if you couldn’t breathe? Movement was created from this question through hip hop movement. Hakeem wanted them both to take and create choreography. Another example was Voices (2017) that was performed at U.Dance 2017. The piece was based on the young voices that people have in their head, from what they hear from their parents, friends and teachers. They wrote all these ‘voices’ cryptically and these was translated into movement. The dance was such a hit Hakeem wants to write this into a resource for teachers. Hakeem creates opportunities for young graduates to create and become future leaders. For example, create Rachel Greer a graduate from Trinity Laban has become one of the resident teachers with Impact Youth. Future4youth is part of Hakeem’s Youth Dance work of the African Diaspora. 2015 brought Hakeem together with ACE Dance and Music director Ian and Gail Parmel through their shared passion and aspirations for youth. They collaborated on the project through the frustration that hip hop dance is producing so many dancers and companies but this is not so apparent in African? Especially that hip hop has roots within African dance. The project aimed to find the connections between the dance styles and enhance them both. The project was funded by Arts Council England and brought together 19 youth companies from across the country to take part in workshops, freestyle circles and classes with live drummers all leading to performances to empower and enrich the young people’s journeys. Hakeem is an executive director, but also choregraphs, makes solos on young people, gives information but also likes to get young people to create. He always aims empower young people to create and achieve. It’s amazing that on a shoe string budget, a team, your passion, your knowledge that got young people wanting to be part of you. -Hakeem