The way I came into contact with IRIE! Dance theatre was through my work experience placement, which was overwhelmingly positive. I count myself lucky to have been in such a warm environment which celebrates diversity and focuses on being accessible to all. Sadly these factors are often an afterthought for a lot of places, but at IRIE! diversity and accessibility are the focal point for all the work that they produce there. Different cultures are celebrated and appreciated in a way I had not quite experienced before. I believe the local community is lucky to have an establishment such as IRIE!, as so many areas would benefit from them to increase the engagement in the area and the overall sense of intimacy in the community whilst also offering high quality dance training.
Continuously, the minute I walked into the moonshot building I was met with friendly faces all eager to make sure I felt comfortable in the new environment. There is a real sense of care amongst the staff towards one another and anyone who comes to IRIE! This sense of care is reciprocated by the students that I had met as they all immediately welcomed me into the space with such a nurturing intent. I spent most of my time with Connor Taylor as he was my work experience coordinator, and he had a huge impact on my experience. He made sure to teach me the history of New Cross and Fordham Park and the importance it had for shaping the culture in the area and the creation of IRIE! Dance theatre which highlights the ethos that they carry still today. This ethos is seen in the studio where I was lucky enough to have participated in two classes, one led by Nii Kwatery Owoo and the other led by Leroy 'FX' Dias Dos Santos. They both allowed their classes to be welcoming and there was no feeling of intimidation which there often is in a dance class when learning a new style.
Overall, I am so thankful for being able to come to IRIE! as I believe what they do there is one of a kind and it is an absolute privilege to have done my work experience there as the knowledge I gained, I would not have been able to get from other places.