A DANCE school rooted in the community celebrated a year of success helping youngsters achieve their aspirations.
Elusive dance school was set up by Lewis Riches, at a unit in Grainger Road, Southend, to give children the chance to dance.
Growing up in the area, Lewis – who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – had nowhere to go and was determined not to let that happen for the next generation.
“I was one of these kids – I grew up in the same area and faced a lot of the same problems as them,” said the 31- year-old.
“For me, it’s a big thing to have somewhere that’s accessible. You can charge loads of money, but the most important thing is what the kids get out of it.”
Last year, the school became a community interest company, which use profits and assets for the public good, and has gone from strength to strength.
A grant of £4,000 from the Government’s Community Development Fund kept it afloat last year, and further funding has just been secured for 2014.
The school began entering youngsters in competitions just 18 months ago, and already has a world champion in 12-year-old Toni Straughan.
But the school does much more than just enter competitions and Lewis said the most rewarding part of the project is away from the spotlight.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” he added. “One youngster has got autism and when he started, he was completely detached. But now he comes in and gives people hugs – his confidence has really grown.
“We have a really strong ‘I can’t’ policy – if anyone says it, they get a forfeit.
“People say they can’t do a handstand, but if your feet come off the floor you’re doing a handstand – if you’re up there for two seconds or 20 minutes it doesn’t matter, you’ve done it.”
Any Southend companies looking to sponsor the school, anyone who would like Elusive to perform at their event, or anyone wanting to join Elusive, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 07967 640214.