Belfast Telegraph

Magical finale to dance scheme

By Helen McDowell

A £10,000 lottery grant literally has them dancing in the streets in north Belfast.

The New Lodge Arts group spent the award on a six-week dance programme for young people from across New Lodge, Cliftonville, Mount Vernon, Shankill, Ardoyne and Whitewell.

The project featured both traditional and street dance as art, exploring the challenges of young people within their communities. It culminated with a performance at the North Belfast Lantern Parade and Magical Evening on halloween night.

Project co-ordinator Anne Delaney from New Lodge Arts said: "This has been a great project to be involved with as we're seeing a great response from the young people who are building relationships with others from different parts of north Belfast - people they may not otherwise have a chance to get to know.

"This was a chance to bring the arts to this area because not all the young people from north Belfast will go into the city centre to experience what's on there.

"About 35 young people – boys and girls aged from 14 to 24– have been involved in an intensive programme which has challenged their perceptions of dance and choreography. They've been working with skateboarders, BMX-ers, fire walkers, as well as dance groups to put together a programme using inspiration from all these diverse sources.

"The culmination was the chance to take part in this year's North Belfast Magic Lantern Parade at the Waterworks, a spectacular event attended by 4,000 people from across north Belfast."

She added: "This wasn't the first project of its kind attended by some of these young people and it's great to see that they have already been inspired by similar projects in the past and want to come back.

"These projects are first and foremost about bringing kids together rather than cross-community work. We want that to happen organically rather than being very obvious about it - and it is. The fact that these young people are coming back to other programmes shows they are working.

"Indeed, during the Ardoyne Fleadh this summer a group of the young people went up to it together because they had made friends through a previous dance project of ours."

Chloe McLaughlin (14), from Ardoyne, who took part in the dance project said: "I enjoyed it because it's real fun, and there's dancing involved. Never in my life did I ever see myself doing something like this – but I'm glad I did it. I've made lots of new friends, the supervisors there are amazing. You learn something new every day which in my mind is just incredible. These past few days have been awesome. I hope I can do it next year."

TP Ward (15), from New Lodge, said: "I liked the project because it can keep you fit and you learn new things. It's great fun working with the choreographers too – they are class and have taught us some cool moves. I have met some new friends and can't wait to perform!"

New Lodge Arts was just one of 21 groups across the province awarded grants totalling almost £156,460 from the Big Lottery Fund and Arts Council of Northern Ireland's Culture for All programme.

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