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Animated Edition - Winter 2006
Building deep relationships through apprenticeships
Kathy Williams, Youth Dance Manager at RJC Dance outlines the apprenticeship scheme they have been running in the Chapeltown area of Leeds for the past five years
RJC Dance is one of Britain's most popular and successful Black British contemporary dance companies. The Company was established in 1993 and tours nationally and internationally from its base at The Mandela Centre in Chapletown, Leeds. The management team consists of Edward Lynch - Artistic Director, DeNapoli Clarke- Artistic Producer, Kathy Williams - Youth Dance Manager (founder members) & Sophie Anderson - General Manager.

RJC Dance works are created from a Black British perspective, with a truly broad appeal to diverse audiences both culturally and socially. It is this work that has influenced a generation of young choreographers and dance practitioners and initiated the renaissance of RJC Dance Youth provision. Reggae, Jazz and Contemporary dance, influence the company's choreographic approach, which fuses social dance forms with contemporary dance techniques.

Youth and Education work is at the heart of RJC's Youth provision. RJC Dance is distinguished by its combination of exciting, technically accomplished dancers, who are also rigorous and inspiring teachers working with young people between the ages of 9-19 years.

For the past five years the Neighbourhood Support Fund has supported RJC's youth provision, a group which also has links with the Connexions Partnership. Connexions West Yorkshire agreement, with the Neighbourhood Support Fund partnerships, provide enhanced support for young people in West Yorkshire.

Through its youth provision, RJC Dance aims to provide a progressive route for nurturing the creativity and talents of young people through an accredited programme of dance, movement, performance, personal and social skills development. Positive behaviour in and out of school is encouraged. Programme activities include: dance development & performance, music, physical activities, residentials. Accreditation of work by the young people is via the open college network:

Performing Arts-Introduction to warm-up exercises - Entry level
Express Yourself through Sound & Movement - Level One
Introduction to Creative Movement /Dance - Level One
Personal Development - Level One
Creative Movement & Dance - Level Two
Art & Design - Level Two

RJC Dance Youth provision is recognised for the quality of its distinctive, high quality dance performance work, and have performed by special invitation at numerous events locally and nationally, including the 2003 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, 'Winning Troupe' at the Leeds West Indian carnival 2002 & 2003, and members have performed at the Royal Festival Hall, London January 2005.

The Youth provision is a culturally diverse group. It is a free provision, which provides young people with an accredited, progressive route into further education, the arts & creative industries. Dance performance work is complemented by a programme of social and personal education. Increased investment in the Youth provision has resulted in greater male participation, audience development and new project partnerships . The young people have been rewarded for their commitment and hard work through the establishment of a dance apprenticeship scheme, which provides opportunities for them to develop their talents alongside professionals in RJC Dance.

Three teenagers; Nillanthie Morton, Delena Walters & Jerome Wilks have been attending the Youth Provision for over four years and have recently been selected to become the Company's first dance apprentices. Nillanthie who attended the Youth provision after his sister suggested he go along, said that: "I have had a bit of stick from some of my friends for being a dancer. At first I wasn't into the idea of dancing, but now wouldn't do anything else." Delena now 19 said: "I am delighted to be an apprentice, I will hopefully dance as a career. Jerome the youngest member at 17, said: "I feel privileged to have been picked as an apprentice. My mum Sandra is very proud of me."

The government has highlighted a culture of obesity in young children in our country. RJC's work with the Youth provision contributes to the achievement of physical, mental and emotional health in young people which meets the agenda for children and young people 'Every Child Matters' through the implementation of a healthy lifestyle through dance, movement and exercise. This work is further supported by the delivery of personal and social education which includes raising the awareness of sexual health enabling the young people to make informed choices. The increased self confidence and enhanced self esteem in young people aids their personal growth and character development.

RJC's youth dance provision represents a diverse community, with accredited courses signposting young people to further and higher education, employment, & training. In a typical year, RJC work with a core group in excess of 70 young people. All youth provision members make a positive contribution to their community and the world of dance and the performing arts locally, regionally and nationally.

contact 0113 239 2040

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Animated: Winter 2006