A ‘permanent home for dance’ in Brighton and Hove

Sir Rod Alridge and dancers from South East Dance (Photograph: Richard Manders) SUS-161216-152515001
Sir Rod Alridge and dancers from South East Dance (Photograph: Richard Manders) SUS-161216-152515001

South East Dance has announced plans for a new dance studio at the Aldridge Community & Learning Space and Sir Rod Aldridge OBE has high expectations for the project.

The studio will be one element of the existing partnership between the Brighton and Portslade Aldridge Community Academies and South East Dance.

Sir Rod Aldridge (Photograph: Richard Manders) SUS-161216-152547001

Sir Rod Aldridge (Photograph: Richard Manders) SUS-161216-152547001

Once completed, the studio will also house a variety of community projects and classes. South East Dance will base its new Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) Brighton Satellite scheme from The Aldridge Community & Learning Space, as well as the BTEC National Extended Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance), which is the flagship course due to be launched through the partnership’s Aldridge South East Dance Academy in September 2017.

Both projects are designed for students who are keen to explore careers in the performing arts, giving them the opportunity to work with guest dancers, teachers and industry experts.

Sir Rod Aldridge, chair of the Academies’ sponsor the Aldridge Foundation, said: “I’m very excited that The Aldridge Community & Learning Space will be part of The Dance Space as a new, permanent home for dance in our city.”

“I think what it gives us is a unique opportunity to connect with this new dance space where we will have our studio.”

Sir Rod Aldridge and Jamie Watton with dancers (Photograph: Richard Manders) SUS-161216-152531001

Sir Rod Aldridge and Jamie Watton with dancers (Photograph: Richard Manders) SUS-161216-152531001

“It will be connected to the two academies BACA (Brighton Aldridge Community Academy) and PACA (Portslade Aldridge Community Academy).

“It will mean students can come at the age of 16 and both study academically for a B-Tech diploma, which is equivalent to three A levels and be able to dance for a great period of the time they are learning.

“There is connectivity between the centre and the two schools, and clearly what that gives them is the opportunity to be in the dance space where there will be rehearsals and other things going on with great people.

“I think as a parent if I had son daughter who was talented and wanted to make a career in dance, I think this makes a great opportunity for them.”

Sir Rod’s achievements include founding global corporation Capita and the establishment of Aldridge Education, a multi-academy trust. He credits aspects of competitive dance for his success and self-belief:

“I danced competitively from the age of seven-ish up to 21, and I guess I was really shy as an individual.

“Dance gave me confidence in myself and in competing – it really developed me. I have seen how if you are good at something that confidence spreads into other things you do.

“I struggled a bit academically because I didn’t pass my 11+ and went to the school which is now PACA, believe it or not, and I guess this was my way of developing myself.”

Is there a link between physical activity and academic excellence? Sir Rod believes there is, and has great aspirations for the dance project.

“We have done something very similar with cricket; it has worked massively well.

“The interesting thing is the performance of the students, for instance their A-level performance has been exceptional.

“If you are happier and content because you’re doing something you love, the academic learning follows and that’s what we’ve found.

“With cricket, we have a relationship with Sussex County Cricket Club, we’ve got a centre at BACA.

“The interesting thing with dance is that there is no other programme like this in any other school in the city.

“If you wanted to follow this route, you would have to do conventional A-level in a school and then go to a dance club. With this, we’ve got connectivity.”

South East Dance will base its new Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) Brighton Satellite scheme in The Aldridge Community & Learning Space, as well as the BTEC National Extended Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance) – the flagship course due to be launched through the Aldridge South East Dance Academy in September 2017.

Once completed, the studio will also house a variety of community projects and classes as part of the multi-million-pound Circus Street Market regeneration project.

“As a regeneration project, it will be a phenomenal change to that area and it is a good opportunity for people to be a part of that development,” said Sir Rod.

“It’s very natural for Brighton to want to do this – it fits very well.

“It’s a great city, it’s my city, I love it. This new area will be a fantastic space.

“So, if there are people out here who want to do philanthropic things and be involved, this is a real opportunity.

“I am a person who obviously believes in giving, but I believe equally in connecting. I think a great thing about this project is that it does connect with our two schools.

“Hopefully parents will see this as an opportunity. A programme has been developed which we are calling The Brighton Curriculum – it can’t be undertaken anywhere else.”

He says it is about more than just education young people.

“I do see communities as a big point. We see our schools as community assets – we want the community to come in and use the infrastructure and facilities that we’ve got.

“OK we are an academic institution first and foremost, but equally we are a place where people can gather together and do things.

“If you think about it in the case of BACA and PACA, we have unlocked more than £48 million in capital investment to build those two schools.

“If you think about that investment why not use that invest more to do other things, so if you have cuts in some council services there is absolutely no reason why the assets that have been created can’t be used to deliver some of those services.”

The new dance studio will be housed in The Dance Space – a dance facility set to be launched in 2019 – as part of the multi-million-pound Circus Street Market regeneration project.