'Never limit ourselves': Dance school reaches 18 years of success

Pioneer Dance is based in Newham

Pioneer Dance was based in Newham - Credit: Sarah Ginn

A dance school which was set up nearly two decades ago in Newham has bounced back stronger after the pandemic. 

Pioneer Dance, which started in Newham but now runs sessions across London, has grown over the 18 years since it was established in 2004 by Chantal Joseph and now has multiple weekly classes, experienced tutors and almost 1,000 pupils.

Pioneer Dance, Newham

Pioneer Dance started in 2004 - Credit: Sarah Ginn

Chantal told the Recorder: “I’ve always trained in dance myself and my aim was to make dance accessible to those who maybe don’t have the means to go to a regular stage school."

Aiming to make dance reachable to as many people as possible while building pupils' confidence and self-esteem, Pioneer teaches a variety of styles from street, hip hop and contemporary to Afrobeat and Zumba.

Chantal, who runs sessions in primary schools, said dance is a good educational tool - an active way to keep young people engaged and interested in what they are learning.

Although Pioneer Dance had to shut down temporarily during the Covid-19 lockdown, Chantal found a silver lining.

Pioneer Dance, Newham

Pioneer Dance now has around 1,000 pupils - Credit: Sarah Ginn

“It provided us with the chance to regroup and evaluate where we wanted the company to be in the next few years," she said.

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Chantal said it gave her time to improve how Pioneer taught sessions and interacted with the young students.

Looking to the future, Chantal said: “We never limit ourselves as to what we can do.

"Currently we are working on a project with Hackney Empire for young people to explore their dance skills and we are working with theatre-based companies and interacting with those that share the same interests.”

Chantal said Pioneer's ethos is to ''make dance accessible to everyone in the community".

Young pupils at Pioneer Dance are aged between four and 16, with specialist adult sessions also available.

Pioneer is holding half-term workshops this May, including at Coppice Primary School in Chigwell on May 31 and at Rotherhithe Primary School on June 1.

Find out more at www.pioneerdance.com or by emailing dance@pioneerdance.com