We’re so pleased to be continuing with our Power of Dance Lockdown series and this week we will be sharing the marvellous work of Exim Dance Company!
Exim Dance Company is a community based organisation in Plymouth creating Community and Educational Outreach Pathway Programs as well as extensive weekly services to make dance accessible for all. Exim Dance state they ‘are passionate about using dance to help vulnerable people, breaking down the ideological barriers that surround dance, holding inclusivity at the heart of all of our work. To do this we believe that as well as delivering our own programme of work we must also provide high quality training and opportunities to students and professionals wishing to work as community dance practitioners. The majority of Exim’s community work is delivered in deprived areas of Plymouth, with a high focus on mental health and wellbeing through a person centred approach.’
Throughout lockdown Exim reflects that there has been a huge shift in their services, with the last year’s restrictions pushing the team to be more resilient and creative than ever. Prior to lockdown Exim Dance Company were leading 27 classes per week, many across the city within Plymouth’s deprived areas and communities and educational/ school settings around the South West. Exim reflected that as like a lot of others, when the initial lockdown took place everything suddenly stopped creating a huge loss of teaching work. When looking back at this time they said ‘Fortunately, our team at Exim Dance Company are well equipped to quickly adapt, organise and execute a plan, meaning we were able to formulate a way forward the morning before everything halted. We devised a plan as a team that would continue services to those in need and engaged with us whilst also allowing us time to devise more services moving forward.’. The initial transition to working in a virtual capacity saw Exim provide a weekly timetable of pre-recorded and live classes to a mixture of all ages and abilities, alongside more internal offers such as 1:1’s with their young people. Exim have described how much this has developed over the last year when detailing further services they have offered such as; Positivity packs to over 724 young people and families in the city, virtual dance challenges, homework club and even hosting an online Scratch Night where local artists and communities can perform, watch and connect with each other.
When reflecting on this period of time Exim state ‘Much of what we’ve offered over the past year has hugely influenced our work going forward with many elements staying a part of our weekly timetable and on going services. It’s important to us that we don’t forget what has happened in the last year and as we develop out of the pandemic we want to ensure we can still use what we have learnt to continue advising and developing our services, striving to create an as accessible overall package as possible.’. It’s clear that wellbeing and mental health support are carried forward in Exim Dance Company’s work and offerings with clear displays of graphics (designed by local artists), resources (designed in team) and short videos vibrantly displayed on their social media channels and website (all found in through the links below) that aim to encourage positivity and offer support to young people and adults. When talking about the clarity of this in their services Exim reflect that ‘We’ve always carried a level of mental wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing in our services and is something that informs our work as an inclusive organisation, however, before the pandemic this was something kept quite internal and within sessions so wasn’t as publicly displayed, something the pandemic forced us to do in the transition to a virtual capacity. The recognition we’ve received has been phenomenal and we couldn’t be more grateful to be doing the work that we do!’. The extent of this recognition was truly displayed when Exim recently won the Mental Heath and Wellbeing Award from The Sport and Recreation Alliance and Active IQ.
Exim Dance Company’s work in the city doesn’t stop there though, the company took on shared management of Oxford House Creative Hub with Rhythm City Dance Studios at the end of last year, and they seem busier than ever! This creative hub is situated in Stonehouse a community area in Plymouth that is close to both organisations hearts. During the last lockdown at the start of this year (2021) Exim and Rhythm City have been preparing the building to open with a plethora of services led by each company as well as providing a space to local artists and organisations to hire. Now that services have begun to return in a face to face capacity Exim Dance Company are leading many young peoples classes for varying ages and abilities within the premises; a Primary class, Stonehouse Communities Together Class, Making Waves Plymouth and Adapt. Most recently they opened the doors for 2 Easter activities, the first a week long Fit and Fed Programme commissioned by Plymouth City Council for young people in the city who require free school meals and the second a Returning to Dance programme for their community session participants to prepare for the start of their aforementioned weekly sessions. Exim informs that plans are already in place for their Adult classes to begin again after May 17th when Government Guidelines indicate is safe to do so, with their Open Company Classes returning once more and a new project Women in Mind a ‘[…] health and wellbeing dance program, specifically designed for those who are 18+ and that identify as women that may be looking to increase confidence, get a health boost or wanting to meet like minded women all whilst in a welcoming, supportive and safe environment.’. It’s clear that Exim are passionate about their work and that many across the city are making great use of their services!
If you would like to get involved in Exim Dance Companies work have a look at the links below:
Oxford House Creative Hub: https://www.facebook.com/OHCreativeHub or firstname.lastname@example.org