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DanceWest's logo on the wall at its new studio space

New Fulham dance studio aims to make top-level facilities accessible

A new dance studio with unrivalled facilities will be launched in Fulham alongside a month-long taster programme by a west London dance charity next Monday.

DanceWest is opening up a home base inside Fulham’s double award-winning Sands End Arts and Community Centre, located in South Park, though lessons offered at schools, care homes and elsewhere will carry on.

The top-end studio boasts Royal Ballet School and National Theatre-level sprung flooring.

DanceWest chief executive and founder Rosie Whitney-Fish said: “In terms of the community spaces that we currently work in, they are limited, so it’s really exciting that the community will be able to access a dance studio of this grade.

“We’ve got the highest grade of flooring that you can possibly deliver.”

This will help limit injuries and decrease tiredness by lessening the impact each movement has.

The well-lit location will host taster lessons for toddlers, pensioners and everyone in between from 1 to 26 November.

These classes will range from hip-hop to ballet to specific sessions for those with dementia, with the full schedule to begin next year.

Thirteen dancers, aged 55 and up, striking elaborate poses.
STRIKE A POSE: DanceWest gets the whole community involved. Image credit: Ellie Kurttz

The November lessons range from £5 to £15 each, with discounts available for many classes when booking for the full four weeks.

This is cheap compared to many dance providers, particularly considering the facilities.

Inclusivity and accessibility are key to DanceWest, whose participants are aged one to 103.

Whitney-Fish created the group in 2015 to bring an area of London where the arts are often absent the benefits of dance.

DanceWest treasurer Maria Polydorou, 30, knows what a helping hand dancing can be given her childhood in Cyprus.

“I fell in love with dancing because I was always a chubby kid. And, you know, when you are overweight, you can get a lot of marginalisation and bullying,” the KPMG audit manager said.

“And I found that dancing really gave me the confidence to present myself on a stage whether I’m overweight or not.”

Polydorou said this pushed her to become a DanceWest trustee as she felt the group offered everyone the chance to benefit from its classes.

SHAKE IT OFF: DanceWest’s high-tech studio helps limit injuries

Moving to the new studio will further this mission, something Hammersmith and Fulham Council and public development body Arts Council England helped make possible.

The venue caters to physical access requirements, as the studio is part of a modern, step-free building finished late last year.

In addition, DanceWest will be able to raise funds to further its charity work through profitable yoga, Pilates and other evening lessons, Polydorou said, adding that awareness could also be generated through open days.

Leasing a studio of the group’s own even helps those with tight schedules, since lessons – run keeping Covid safety in mind – can start whenever, with 8am to 8pm being the current plan, Whitney-Fish explained.

Siobhan Caughey, a 78-year-old retiree and DanceWest participant, said: “It’s just a super place. We all love it, because you can open the windows up at the top and everything like that.

“And it’s just very easy, accessible, really and it’s fabulous.

“I think we are all very grateful for what the staff do for us and long may it continue.”

Caughey, who belongs to DanceWest’s 65+ Bolder not Older group, noted The Walnut Tree cafe, set to open at the Sands End centre later this year, will provide a social space for after class.

For more information and bookings, visit https://www.dancewest.co.uk/dancewest-studio.

Featured image: courtesy of DanceWest

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