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Animated Edition - Autumn 2006
Real life, real dance - young people and the Criminal Justice System
Sarah Trist, independant dance manager and General Manager of Protein Dance, introduces the Real Life, Real Dance Symposium
Real Life, Real Dance, a symposium on dance interventions in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) and the youth justice system that I curated on behalf of Protein Dance in association with Dance United, took place on 22 June 2006. The day of practical workshops and presentations was the culmination of a six-month project Protein Dance had undertaken with children from six PRUs in Doncaster and East London, facilitated by Doncaster Community Arts and East London Dance.

The idea for the Symposium came about whilst I was researching the PRUs project early in 2005. A report on the conference that launched the First Time Projects (2002) led me to contact its author Dr Richard Ings to ask him to conduct a detailed evaluation of Protein's project. Simon Richey at the Gulbenkian Foundation (from where Richard Ings' evaluation was funded) suggested we promote Richard's findings at a national level, and so the idea for the Symposium took root. I wanted an event that would not only highlight Protein's activity in this area, but would encourage dialogue with other organisations in the field and would inspire dance practitioners to choose pupil referral units as a sector to work in with confidence and a sense of purpose.

Real Life, Real Dance was held at Stratford Circus and hosted by East London Dance. Delegates came from all over the country, from as far afield as Elgin in the north of Scotland, from Ipswich, Birmingham, Blackpool, Norwich and York, as well as London and the home-counties. A large proportion of the delegates were dance teachers with a remit to work with hard to reach young people, or dance artists with a special interest in the field. Artistic Director, Tara Herbert gave a practical workshop that was heavily over-subscribed, and we ended up asking Tara to deliver a second that was equally full.

The following articles are based on presentations made at Real Life, Real Dance.

Sarah Trist is an independent dance manager and General Manager of Protein Dance, and can be contacted on

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Animated: Autumn 2006