Emily Labhart

thinking about dance, arts management and cultural representation

A Night With Impact Youth and Friends

On Saturday 8th July, an excited audience made it’s way to Rich Mix for A Night With Impact Youth and Friends. Hosted by Hakeem Onibudo, the event showcased the talents of the Impact Dance Performance Company, featuring Impact Youth – who for the second year in a row will be representing London at the national U.Dance Festival produced by One Dance UK. The event at Rich Mix was a fundraiser to subsidise the cost of getting the group to Birmingham for the festival. The programme also featured guest performances from Boy Blue Entertainment‘s adult company PUSH, alongside a solo from Myself UK Dance.

The two pieces that opened and closed the show were performed by Impact Youth (aged 11-17 years) and were the strongest of the night. Both “Decisions” and “Voices” showcased highly articulate hip hop vocabulary, including popping, house and floor work, but went beyond usual expectations of youth hip hop.

Frequently, choreography for this age group is centred around separating street dance styles into 30 second tracks, edited together with predictable changes of formation and some aerial tricks. However, Onibudo and his team remove themselves from this commonality – to create something rare and powerful.

The young dancers had a clear voice in the work, their creative input was seen through the sensitive partnering and use of contact, as well as the accompaniment. In “Voices”, each dancer had contributed to the sound score with a short recording, giving insight into ‘the voices they hear in their heads everyday’ (whether that be their parents voice, friends or even bullies). The dancers had excellent technical skill and impressive performance quality, not least for their age.

The impact of these pieces is undoubtedly down to the creative process, the ways in which Onibudo and his team (Kate Harrison and Keanu Wilson) work with the young dancers to develop their skills as artists. Stay up to date with future events, performances and rehearsals here.

Another stand out performance of the evening was from Impact Dance’s adult performance group, FFI (Fully Functioning Individuals). Choreographed by Keanu Wilson (above), the dancers in FFI are graduates of the Impact Youth programme – all aged 18 years and over.

The piece was slick, performed with a cool confidence drawn from Wilson’s intricate steps. Using animation, popping and house, Wilson has an exciting ability to pick out the smallest sounds from a track and highlight these in his choreography. It’s not enough for him to hit the obvious beat, his genius is in the details.

8th July was a brilliant evening of dance, showcasing the talents of Impact Youth, FFI and other key players in hip hop in London. Hakeem Onibudo is doing important work to support young people through Impact Dance, providing unique opportunities for creativity, development and performance across the UK and beyond. I was glad to be there to support.

 

 

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