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Animated Edition - Summer 2007
From the editor
Ken Bartlett, Creative Director, Foundation for Community Dance
In this edition of Animated we focus on Youth Dance, distilling some of the work presented as part of the Youth Dance England Conference held in Liverpool in April, as well as some other issues it was not possible to cover there.

Youth Dance England, funded by the Department of Culture Media and Sport and Arts Council England is half way through its two-year programme of work. We now have, as a result of the organisation's existence and structure, much better picture of the scale and reach of youth dance practice taking place across England. (727 established youth dance groups, involving 1,616 organisations with 256, 284 young people regularly dancing).

The conference revealed the variety of ways dance professionals are reaching out to increase access to dance for young people and how they are widening the range of their partnerships to support and ensure the work can be sustained and grow. What was clear to me was how much more might be achieved if this initiative had a longer life span and had the kind of investment afforded to Youth Music.  This would enable it to cast its net wider, take more risks and include a more diverse range of young people, their dances and their aesthetics.

Even so, there is still some time left to articulate ways and means for engaging young people in dance and a more diverse set of ideas for progression in dance other than a career through a higher education route.

For me it is important that this vital area of the dance ecology of the UK does more than provide a step into the progression route through the education system.  Surely, we should be seeing this type of engagement and commitment by young people as a route to a life-long engagement in dance with a multitude of options as to how this might be realised.

Luke Pell in his reflections with the youth dance delegates to the conference noted a thirst to know about the range of employment possibilities within dance other than performance, and reminds us that 'as we work to nurture young dancers, let's not forget that we are also nurturing people.'

It is crucial that the dance profession works together, and with Youth Dance England to unfurl a much bigger flag for dance and young people across the UK that can celebrate and invest in the riches we know are out there and make them more visible, relevant and significant.

Our policy section contains the keynote address from the conference by John Holden, the Head of Culture at the think tank Demos, who asks how we know what we know and how we evaluate and communicate our impact. Elsewgere Beverley Glean and Rosie Lehan report on their research into cultural diversity in dance education in an international context.

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Animated: Summer 2007