On 2nd October 2015, the Jack Petchey Foundation held the Crystal Awards at City Hall, London to mark the 15th Anniversary of the Jack Petchey Foundation and the milestone of having invested £100m into youth projects in London and Essex. In a special gesture to mark the occasion, £225,000 of grant awards were given on the night to 150 youth groups specially selected for their outstanding work with young people.
Magpie Dance is an inclusive contemporary dance company based in Bromley, at the Churchill Theatre. Through their dance workshops, Magpie aims to improve communication skills, improve health and wellbeing, to foster positive social interactions to improve confidence and to enable empowerment and achievement through gaining skills.
Magpie Dance’s £1500 Crystal Awards grant was used to help fund their 30th Anniversary performance, as well as a youth dance workshop, linked to the performance to encourage new young people to join. The grant also paid for the production of souvenir programmes of the show for the dancers and their families.
Magpie are not usually able to fund performances on the stage, so this was the first time the youth group dancers had danced for a large audience in a theatre space with professional lighting. They worked hard in their weekly classes to develop their skills and it was wonderful for them to have the opportunity to push themselves and their skills to a new level and to feel a huge sense of achievement. Having the workshop attached to the show enabled the Magpie staff to encourage new people to join the youth group, and as a result two new members have joined.
The show took place on November 1st on the stage of the Langley Park Centre, with a performance that highlighted dance work from across the organisation. All groups performed in the show making it the biggest event in Magpie history. The Founder of the charity and artistic director Avril Hitman, said: "The Magpie dancers inspired and thrilled the audience with their captivating performances, and we were fortunate to have a live band with specially composed music to perform alongside them. All in all, a most memorable celebration, one that we won’t forget!” The performers were also thrilled to have a copy of the programme as a keepsake of the event, to show their friends and family.
One young member that the event particularly affected was eighteen year old Emily. Emily had been taking part in the youth sessions for two years and whilst she has had the opportunity to showcase her dances at the end of term to friends and family, she had never been able to perform in a large show before. The show pushed her to work really hard in the weeks running up to the performance, with her and her group creating a funky fashion show dance that really suited the group. On the night, Emily danced with full focus and seemed un-phased by the sold-out theatre full of people. After the show, her parents greeted her with tears of pride as they hadn’t seen Emily dance with such skill and confidence before. Following her huge development, Emily was asked to join Magpie’s technique class, which is for dancers who are able to push their technical dance skills further in performance.
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