This week Plymouth Dance are happy to share the work of The Groovement Project over the past year as a part of our Power of Dance in lockdown series. The Groovement Project is a Plymouth based organisation that provides dance training from the age of 4+ to all backgrounds through a mixture of dance styles and techniques. The company strives to provide national and international opportunities that pre Covid saw them perform in L.A, and at Disney and Universal Studios.
The company has a substantial timetable of classes that a plethora of 13 practitioners lead, including support from student teachers who assist. The Main practitioners Drew and Ellen helped to outline some of the work that they have been doing with their students over this time and it’s clear they have definitely been busy! A lot has changed for the company over the past year especially their in-studio preparation and organisation to ensure that all covid safety procedures are in place. The Groovement project have completely updated their old timetable which used to house 52 classes per week before lockdown to now running 35 sessions a week accommodating the rigorous Covid protocols in place. These sessions include a range of crew and company training as well as general classes too that run on a rotation basis due to the lower capacity allowed in class and also the popularity. Drew highlighted just how high the demand for classes were when reflecting that a simple emailing system used to suffice but now they have revamped how they book classes with a new online booking system – found at the bottom of this article.
The Groovement Project’s work doesn’t stop with their busy in-studio classes though! The company has also been tirelessly providing online opportunities for their students to get involved in including pre-recorded classes, Zoom tasks, challenges and live classes with international practitioners too! The company have created a real variety of challenges to keep kids and even their families involved with creativity and training, the company have even continued to inspire and motivate their students encouraging attendance in online competitions both nationally and internationally. Drew described their work as continuously adapting to suit what people need to help keep them engaged. This hard work hasn’t come without its challenges though! With the long list of technical issues that could go wrong with online work it seems the company has had to work around a lot of them; internet connectivity, storage on devices, upload speed have all been obstacles they have overcome to continue achieving timelines.
The company hasn’t just been providing practical opportunities throughout this time either, they have supported their students through mentorship and pastoral support in a variety of forms aiming to actively support mental health throughout lockdown. The Groovement project has aimed to keep in constant communication with their students to continue development and aim to keep people positive. Drew describes this support as matching the young people at their pace, whether this is through video participation, socially distanced walks, different mediums of communication including voice notes to help hear voices from outside the household when feeling trapped. Many parents of The Groovement’sProjects students have fed back that the company’s support is the only thing keeping their child sane. Drew reflected that their students have really enjoyed involving their family in what they do, some parents have really gone the extra mile when getting involved including dressing up as judges for in-house competitions, learning a new dance style from their child and giving them the opportunity to present this to an international teacher and idol, and even a local GP who took the time to film with their child before going to work to administer vaccines for the day. Drew highlighted that there has been great engagement all round not just because the parents are supporting what their children do but because they are also providing some rest bite with lighthearted entertainment and comedy for the parents.
After some impactful feedback from students about how much the company’s work has helped them, Drew reflected it really hit home what a difference they are making. He said “Dance can be as simple as dancing but for some it is so much more than that.”. Drew highlighted some unique scenarios from the past year of accomplishments, each showing how valuable their training and support has been. One student was accepted into Stagebox and chosen as an elite member, another student won the Litefest competition for Lite Feet whilst in the first lockdown and most recently a student fed back the achievement of a life goal, after a long term struggle with an eating disorder and mental health they were awarded a place in their dream dance school. Describing the scenario as at a point of no return dance saved them.
It’s evident that the work Drew, Ellen and the Team at The Groovement Project have done and continue to do has been a necessity for so many in the city. If you would like to get involved in their work please have a look at the links below: