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Southwark College presented an unparalleled opportunity for passionate dance students to pursue their artistic aspirations while forging valuable connections with industry professionals from IRIE! dance theatre, the UK's leading dance theatre company in the African and Caribbean dance fusion field.

The workshop allowed Level 2 and Level 3 Dance students to acquire new choreographic techniques beyond their conventional repertoire. Participants demonstrated their assimilation of the material by incorporating new moves and skills into their choreography. The presentation was conducted before Kaia and Aaliyah, the workshop team leaders for IRIE! Dance Theatre. After the session, students engaged with the leaders to understand IRIE's offerings further, including the possibility of post-college enrolment on a BA course, making this experience valuable and enriching for aspiring dancers.

Nicole Ihnatko, a Level 3 Dance student at Southwark College, said: "The workshop was a wonderful opportunity to try new styles of dance, from afrobeat to contemporary. I enjoyed the session and the freedom to create a choreography and incorporate the newly learned styles in my own unique way. I'm a passionate dancer, and I love to get involved in these types of activities, as it allows me to broaden my knowledge about dance and pursue my dream of pursuing a degree in this field."

Kaia Sawyer, IRIE! team leader, said: "I must say, the experience of being at Southwark College has been extremely welcoming. We have visited several colleges, but the students here are truly amazing. They are highly motivated to learn and are passionate about their subjects. Initially, they were a bit shy, but eventually, they opened to us. Our workshops are designed to nurture creativity and help students find their artistic identity. At IRIE! dance theatre we specialise in a diverse mix of dance styles, and we're excited to offer our cool 3-year BA course, the only one in the country that offers such a diverse range of dance styles. Once students complete the program, they can choose to explore specific dances like African."

Scott Peasey, Vice Principal at Southwark College, said: "We're pleased to have welcomed Kaia and Aaliyah from IRIE! Dance Theatre company to our campus to meet our talented aspiring dancers.

"Southwark College constantly strives to improve our students' chances of developing careers in their chosen industry. One way the college achieves this is by working closely with partners and employers in a range of industries, such as the talented IRIE! dance theatre team leaders. By collaborating with experienced professionals, we can give our students invaluable insights into their chosen fields. This helps students enhance their skills and develop their own unique style, equipping them with the necessary tools to succeed in this competitive industry."

IRIE! Dance Theatre is Britain’s leading dance theatre company working in the field of African & Caribbean dance fusion. Founded in 1985 by Beverley Glean with the principal aim of heightening the profile of Black dance in Britain, the company set out to create a repertory of works reflective of the African Caribbean influence on the Black British cultural experience.

Southwark College boasts a range of dance courses tailored to various dance styles, including contemporary dance, ballet, and street dance, providing our students with an all-encompassing dance education. To learn more about the Dance courses we offer, visit southwark.ac.uk/dance

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