The ‘purple door to fame’ at Freedom Dance & Performance at 7, Charles Street has sadly seen very little movement over these past few months – after all the school’s usual classes were suspended until further notice due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, since March 19th, its Principal Stacey Green and her 150 pupils – with ages ranging from 2 to 18 – have been in no mood for sitting around idly during the ‘lockdown’. From the safety of their homes in Ruddington (and, in some cases, much further afield) they began to make full use of social media and video conferencing to keep their ‘Freedom family’ together, active and performing during the COVID-19 restrictions. The usual lessons were quickly moved online – and her eager students began submitting their own solo performances from living rooms and gardens. Quite often the rest of the household get roped in, too!
Whilst some of the children attend freedom Dance & Performance just for fun, friendship and exercise, others dream of following former students’ footsteps to make it their career – and Stacey has been determined to keep that dream alive. During ‘lockdown’ there’ve been online workshops, dance and singing classes and even a ‘Musical Theatre Challenge’ – with tributes also being paid to NHS workers and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign.
In fact, Tuesday June 2nd saw a one day break from their usual online activities: “Freedom Dance & Performance had a complete blackout in solidarity with our black community” explains Stacey. “Our school is one of diversity, love and compassion and it is paramount that we show our support and educate our students about being anti-racist. It is not enough to say ‘I am not a racist’.”
Since then her pupils have been working on another online project: “We were asked to sing a song in support of all the survivors of domestic abuse – a cause which is very close to my heart” says Stacey. “Tara’s Angels was founded in honour of Tara Newbold from Nottingham who sadly lost her life to domestic abuse. We are so honoured to have been asked to do this and hope it brings some happiness and strength to Tara’s family and friends and all the amazing survivors. A huge thank you to Joe Johnson (aka The Dizzle) for putting this video together.”
Students from the Ruddington dance school frequently go on to secure places at some of the top performing arts colleges in the country, including Bird College (Sidcup), Bodyworks (Cambridge), Laine Theatre Arts(Epsom), Arts Educational (Epsom, London) and Performers College (Essex), amongst others. Stacey’s son Louis Gaunt has personally enjoyed huge success since starting out at Charles Street – now boasting a string of TV and theatre credits – and awards – for his performances spanning the length and breadth of the country. He also ran one of the recent online masterclasses for current Freedom students. You can read more about Louis >>HERE<<.
Now, as other Coronavirus ‘lockdown’ restrictions are lifted, Stacey is getting increasingly frustrated at the lack of guidance from the UK Government about when dance schools may be permitted to reopen. She says: “The heart has gone from our Freedom home and it needs the Freedom Family back inside – filling it with purple love, laughter and soul.” She’s put her name to an online petition called ‘Dance Schools need answers too!!!’ and hopes villagers will consider doing the same. “I need to be back with my Freedom Family – and without any guidelines then we cannot open.” You can find that petition >>HERE<<.
Unfortunately there’s also another issue to sort out following the freak Ruddington storm of June 17th: “The studio was flooded a couple of weeks’ ago and now the roof needs repairing” reveals Stacey. “This may also have an impact on when or whether I can open. It will depend on the level of damage. That added to uncertainty about reopening is worrying.”
If you’d like more information about Freedom Dance & Performance, and perhaps get your son or daughter involved, please visit their Facebook page, contact Stacey by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or by ‘phoning her on 07548-151-919.