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Perform X – so much more than a dance class

Around two years ago, we established Perform X, a street and hip hop dance class for 6-12 year olds. As with our drama classes, we wanted to offer more than just a dance lesson. We wanted to use dance as a tool for developing life skills as well as keeping fit. And what’s more, we wanted to write our own material to keep it fresh, exciting and engaging for the children.

We know how much focus our termly themes give the children in our drama based classes and so seemed important that we pick appealing themes for Perform X too. With shows like Hamilton dominating Broadway and The West End, hip hop has now become a cool tool for telling historical stories in a way that is accessible to younger generations.

We look for themes that resonate with children, that both are super fun but also educational. So, when we put together a shortlist of themes, Oliver Twist stood out as a brilliant choice for this term. There’s a reason this story has stood the test of time.

Children are often familiar with the Lionel Bart masterpiece musical Oliver. I was lucky enough to work on the show for 2 years in the West End as my first job as an actress around 20 years ago. So, when it came to writing the music and filming a video for the children, it was with great joy that I was able to invite two of the original cast members back to play all the adult characters.

You can watch our video here

You’ll see in the film, we’ve picked out the key plot points. It helps the children grasp an overview of the story (albeit in a very abridged way) in just seven minutes. We’re blessed with an excellent composer and I love how he’s drawn out the essence of Dickens’ story through the lyrics. The piece talks of social inequality and resonates in today’s society too. I can’t wait to see how the children respond to this modernised version of the story, the theme and the lyrics as they get cracking over the next couple of weeks. 

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