Wallington 10-year-old is face of campaign to get us dancing

A 10-year-old from Wallington has been chosen as one of the faces of a national campaign, backed by some of the stars of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, to get the whole of the country dancing.

Queen of Latin: Strictly’s head judge Shirley Ballas is backing the campaign

Elijah Caraccio is one of the young people fronting the Find Your Dance Space campaign, launched this week by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, and supported Strictly judges Shirley Ballas and Oti Mabuse.

The campaign aims to show that dance is for everyone, regardless of age, gender, ability, fitness level or circumstance, and Elijah demonstrates how it helps him to deal with the symptoms of dyspraxia and attention deficit disorder.

Elijah first caught the dancing bug when he accompanied his older sister, Carmella, to lessons. Before long, he was asking his mum to take him to his own classes at Pointers Dance Studio, and he has not looked back since.

Now, Elijah takes lessons in tap, modern, ballet, street and contemporary, and says he feels most comfortable when dancing.

“It’s such a nice experience, I feel happy and free when I’m dancing,” he said.

“The classes have helped me to learn my left and right and the teachers explain things in a way that I can understand. I don’t feel different to any of my friends. If I get muddled, it’s ok. The classes are fun.

“I think it’s great that I can tell other people how much I like dancing. I hope other people start dancing, too.”

Good example: Elijah Caraccio started dancing when he went with sister Carmella to lessons in Wallington

Ballas, known in dancing circles as the Queen of Latin, is a member of the ISTD and feels passionately about dance being more accessible to children.

“I’m delighted to support the Find Your Dance Space campaign to encourage more people to dance, and to urge schools to make dance available to their pupils,” she said.

“Dance brings so many benefits to our well-being, and it’s a great way to forge friendships and help people feel good about themselves.

“I’m particularly keen to see more children have the opportunity. Schools can really help by including dance in their activities and bringing in a trained teacher to provide safe, structured group lessons. The benefits will be great for pupils and the school, so I really believe it will be well worth the investment and the time.”

Mabuse is a patron of the ISTD and knows that it’s important to get lessons from a highly-trained teacher. “Dance is such a powerful tool that helps to connect people, improves confidence, raises spirits, and brings such a boost to mental, physical, and emotional well-being – I think it can help people in so many ways,” she said.

Ginny Brown, the chief executive of the ISTD, wants schools and community groups to make lessons available to their pupils and members. “Dance is inclusive, and it brings so many benefits, regardless of who you are, and we believe it really can be a force for good,” Brown said.

“We know that dance improves physical, mental, and emotional well-being, but it also helps to build friendships, reduce loneliness, and provide enjoyment for all. These are all much needed as we rebuild after the pandemic.”

Find an ISTD-trained teacher near you today, go to http://www.istd.org/find-a-teacher

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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