At the end of 2020, Waltham Forest Safer Neighbourhoods team agreed to fund a project where we could:
-show young people in the borough alternative paths to crime and anti social behaviour
-encourage young people to follow their creative and professional aspirations
-offer practical advice
-inspire them with people who will resonate with them
We decided to put together a docuseries featuring local young artists who also found their escape through their creative passion.
This project was a very personal one for me because before dance was a career for me, it was a form of escapism from everything I was going through - and it continues to be this. In addition to that, it's always special for me to work in the borough that I grew up in and work alongside people that I've known for many years, or that I've met along the journey.
I used to think dance was just something that I enjoyed, and that I did as a hobby. However, in 2012 when I was living in the YMCA in Walthamstow, I came to realise that it was in fact my medicine. my release. my emotional outlet. my connection to out of this world experiences. There was a security guard at the YMCA who used to sneak me into the studio late at night when the exercise classes had finished. To this day, I doubt he understands the therapy he was providing in doing this. I had a safe space, at a time when I felt very unsafe, to work through the things that were most difficult to comprehend in my life. I had room for exploration, without judgement. I had vessel to just let go and be myself momentarily. I could take down the huge armour that I wore throughout the day, and truly be me in my most expressive, honest form.
Had I not had that escape, I think it would have been so much more difficult to keep a strong, positive mindset during that difficult time. it would have been easier to succumb to the toxic forms of escapism that were rife in the hostel: drug using, gang grooming, drinking, partying.
Dance gave me a deep sense of focus, beyond my day job at the time (in a call centre).
Since coming to these realisations, I've been interested in the positive ways that other people escape and how we can encourage young people to find theirs.
The universe just aligned this opportunity so I could pull everything together and make it happen!
The series is released episode by episode every Saturday on our YouTube Channel and IGTV. Please do tune in for some positive inspiration from real relatable people that I have the privilege of knowing.