A Peckham dance organisation determined to continue engaging young people throughout lockdown has moved its classes online.
The Movement Factory, based at Peckham Levels, works to aid personal and social development through dance and has begun streaming online classes via a closed Instagram group.
The organisation has committed to continue supporting its young members who have relied on it as a safe space to socialise and express themselves.
Founding director Leanne Pero, 34, said: “We knew we had to make sure that our young people could access our classes during this tough time.
“More importantly continue to make it free as so many parents have lost their income. It really was a no brainer.”
To help us all #stayINspired and stay dancing, on Wednesday and Thursday evenings @themovementfactory are hosting FREE online dance classes via their instagram page @tmfonlineclasses for ages 8-21 year olds. 🕺💃— Peckhamlevels (@peckhamlevels) April 28, 2020
Head to https://t.co/wxCS7BDPhm to find out more and sign up. pic.twitter.com/VMslcaWRL8
Miss Pero explained dance had been the only consistent thing throughout her traumatic childhood that brought her great joy and since founding The Movement Factory at just 15 years old she has worked to impact others in the same way.
She said: “We are about building people up and building stronger communities. If our classes can help keep our young people’s minds active and healthy during this tough time, then our job is done.”
The Movement Factory was a refuge for many young people to get away from things going on at home and checks have been put in place to maintain this support network whilst physical classes are unavailable.
Members can connect with each other online via a private group and moderators have been assigned to monitor online attendance.
Miss Pero said: “If we see some of our members have not been attending we send them a message to make sure they are ok.
“It’s more important than ever to check in with people, even the strongest people are struggling, and you can only imagine what some young people are going through as well.”
The loss of human touch has made teaching dance online trickier, as instructor Elijah Smith, 18, explained the lack of instant response can be awkward and teaching specific directions via video is difficult.
Nevertheless, the overriding feeling is one of great success as Mr Smith said the organisation’s teaching has become more versatile and the classes provide a great outlet for those who lack confidence to go to a physical class.
Miss Pero reported an increase in attendance to classes from around 30 young people a week in normal times to 51 signing up online.
She said: “To see that is brilliant, it is a fantastic number in terms of young people engagement.”
Sharon Palacio Tascon, 17, said the classes have helped her maintain a routine and stay active at home and Gifty Kyeremah, 18, said they have allowed her to continue developing and perfecting her skills.
Miss Kyeremah said: “The Movement Factory is important to me because it is a community that accepts everyone whatever dance journey they are in. It brings young people together to help one another.”
Ethan Ferdinand, 17, added: “They bring good vibes to every lesson regardless of how good a dancer you are.”
Looking forward, there are plans to continue online classes after lockdown as a way of engaging a wider audience and accommodating those who cannot attend in person.
Miss Pero explained not every young person can always make the classes at Peckham levels due to safety concerns and a combination of online and in person teaching would help reach their aim of dance being accessible to all.