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Check out the moves: city church offers free street dance lessons for kids

Children from the inner-city on the south coast are being given free street dance lessons inside a church ...

Children from the inner-city on the south coast are being given free street dance lessons inside a  church ...

The six to 14-year-olds are learning urban moves each week inside St Peter’s Church in Somerstown, Portsmouth. The five-week course is being subsidised by the church as part of its outreach to the local area.

The newly-formed dance crew will be performing in Guildhall Square on 15 July as part of the celebrations welcoming the Olympic torch to the city. They’ll also perform on 29 July during a Sunday morning service at St Peter’s.

The street dance lessons are just one of the ways in which St Peter’s Church is serving the needs of the people in their area. Worshippers have outlined a set of mission priorities, committing themselves to the people of Somerstown and the city centre.

Street dancer Connie Sneddon, aged 9, said: “It’s really good. We learn really cool moves and I practice at home. It’s good doing it in the church, because the church is really big.”

Carly-Ann Purcell, who runs Portsmouth Dance Academy, has organised the street dance lessons, and is now basing her academy within St Peter’s Church.

“I started the academy in 2007 and was hiring out dance studios,” she said. “But now I’ve bought my own mirrors and hire dance teachers, so I can run lessons anywhere. I met two members of the congregation who were passionate about doing something to help the local community, and I am too.

“We worked with the Somerstown Adventure Playground and offered street dance to around 15 children – half from the church and half from the playground. They are all doing really well – the young ones absorb it so quickly.

“After the five-week taster course is over, the most committed children will form a new street crew and will become a performance group. They’ll do an extra hour a week of practice and they’ll be the ones who perform on 15 July. We’ll still run the drop-in group for others who want to join.

“I’d been looking for a more permanent venue because I’d like to have a full-time dance school. I’m now basing myself at St Peter’s as it’s a great place to be.”

The street dance lessons are open to those aged between six and 14 who live in the Somerstown area. For details, see www.portsmouthdanceacademy.co.uk.

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