Patricia, 16, inspires year 8 peers as she takes charge of dance school

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A 16-year-old south London student who runs her own dance company for younger peers has been recognised by the Jack Petchey Achievement Awards.

A 16-year-old south London student who runs her own dance company for younger peers has been recognised by the Jack Petchey Achievement Awards.

Sydenham School student Patricia Kamara has been running New Vision, a dance company made up of 20 year 8 students, since September 2013. 

She has prepared the group for a succession of public performances, both in-school and beyond, and has now been given a £200 Jack Petchey Achievement Award.

She explained: “I suppose it is fairly unusual for a girl still in education to be running her own dance group, and it is a stepping stone for me on the way to achieving my dream of running a professional dance company: so it’s new and it captures my vision of the future I hope for.” 

Patricia was given the opportunity thanks to Sydenham School dance subject leader Polly Barker, who asked her to help out with the group. 

However, after seeing Patricia in action, Ms Barker felt confident that the teenager could handle the responsibility of running the classes alone.

Patricia continued: “The girls have really grown up over the course of the last two terms, and a really solid group of 20 has emerged, several of whom are keen to make a go of their dancing, staying in the group into year 9, signing up for classes at the Laban Centre in Deptford, and helping me audition the next group of year 8s.”

Group member Elika, 12, told SecEd: “I really suffered from stage fright before joining the company, but now, apart from normal nerves before a performance, I am far calmer.”

Fellow dancer Alice, also 12, said the group had become a really supportive unit.

She explained: “If someone misses a rehearsal, you’ll find that the girls will help her at lunchtimes with learning new routines so that she can catch up and not feel lost at the next meeting.”

Patricia used the £200 award to broaden her girls’ dance horizons by taking them all to a street-dance performance called Back to the Lab – part of Sadler’s Wells “Breaking Convention” project in its Lillian Bayliss Studio.

Patricia added: “We are a contemporary dance company and so I thought it would be good for the girls to see inspiring performances in another style: a way of highlighting the different ways they could take their dance careers, if they choose to continue.”

For more information on the Jack Petchey Achievement Awards or for details on applying, visit www.jackpetcheyfoundation.org.uk/achievement-awards

CAPTION: Foot Loose: Patricia (far right, top image) is pictured with members of New Vision, as well as with (above) New Vision dancers Chantelle (left) and Elika


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