Bert Roman: making Islington dance

Estimated reading time:4 minutes, 36 seconds

Everyone has a story. But some dance as well, which is why MoveMe is in the midst of taking 80 Islington residents, from 8 – 87 years, on a journey from their community centres to a public dance event at Islington’s famous Assembly Hall on 12 July at 6pm and then at Whittington Park’s Big Day Out on 24 Sep. It’s a journey says MoveMe Artistic Director Bert Roman “guided by irresistible music and moves created for both dance lovers and those convinced they have two left feet”. Q&A with Nicola Baird

MoveMe lead by Bert Roman in Regent Street. Credit: Scott Johnston

MoveMe lead by Bert Roman in Regent Street. Credit: Scott Johnston

Working in six vastly different settings across Islington – The Drovers (AgeUK Islington), Sotheby Mews Day Centre, Hanover Park School, Whittington Park Community Centre, Hornsey Lane Estate Community Association and Elizabeth HouseMoveMe is getting all comers, of all ages and abilities, boogying, teaching them a ‘jukebox’ of different choreographies. These pull inspiration from all styles of dance; modern to renaissance, line dance to hip-hop. In a programme of eight sessions, professional dancers guide participants through four complete dance routines and finally support an intergenerational company to perform with MoveMe at London festivals as well as at Islington Town Hall and Whittington Park’s Big Day Out on Saturday 24 September (2016).

MoveMe session at Age UK- Drovers Centre. Credit: Hannah Barton

MoveMe session at Age UK Islington’s Drovers Centre. Credit: Hannah Barton

Bert Roman, 36, is Artistic Director at MoveMe.

Q: Where do you live?
Highbury Fields, just off Holloway Road.

Q: How come you are involved in a dance project in Islington?
MoveMe is based in Islington. As a dancer I trained in Belgium and have taken part in many different projects as a movement director, dancer or actor. I landed in London and found Islington, which I love and where I currently work as a freelance dancer and actor. In 2011 I started to develop the concept of MoveMe. Since then, the company has been touring around the country delivering thrilling events.

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Q: What are Islington dancers like?
We have had 40 sessions running over a 3 month period with groups of young kids, teenagers and mature residents. We taught each group two choreographies: Sway– Dean Martin and I feel good– James Brown. On 12 July all these diverse groups will come together as one, to dance as an intergenerational and multicultural team. It will be an interesting and exciting mix of ability. Some people just have a natural pull towards picking up dance moves quicker than others, but we welcome this diversity as it is not a competitive exercise, but more a way of bringing people together to work as a cohesive group through the joy of dancing.

MoveMe wants to advocate dance for everyone, regardless of age or ability, as a way to bring people together and benefit from the experience. So far we’ve had fantastic feedback to say that it’s even helping them to build and exercise their memory. Wonderful to think that dance can benefit body, mind and soul.

MoveMe at Canary Wharf Credit: John Wilson

MoveMe at Canary Wharf. Credit: John Wilson

Q: Have you done something like this before?
As a dancer I’ve been teaching many different groups of young people before, but working with our older generation of people around their 80s has been a new and an incredible experience. I’ve been touched with their presence at the sessions and their determination in learning a routine. The fact that they are coming back every week has proved to me there is not only a need for this, but also a want, in our community.

Q: What are your favourite places in Islington?

  • Highbury Fields. Let’s picnic in the sun.
  • Screen on the Green. It’s such a sweet cinema with brilliant programming.
  • The Almeida Theatre. This level of theatre on my doorstep is just wonderful and convenient.
  • Sadler’s Wells. The place for dance in my borough, I don’t even need to travel that far! They have astonishing world class dance on the menu.
  • Café Romeo’s opposite the Assembly Hall on Upper Street. Super tasty gluten free and sugar free bread. Go for the spinach and buckwheat one.

Q: What happens after the Assembly Rooms show?
We’re currently running a similar programme in collaboration with Woking dance. And we’re touring MoveMe events around the country. We have some plans working with NHS Trusts, adding a bit of dance relief to the incredible work they do. We are also very busy preparing our plan of activities for 2017. We have started introducing MoveMe to the  corporate world and hope to arrange events to galvanise the very busy corporate world through our programmes. Keep an eye on our website for an event to get involved with.

  • If you’re interested in getting involved or to get more information on what MoveMe is and does, then go to the website for video and pictures.
  •  You can contact MoveMe directly if you email hello@movemedance.co.uk

Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via nicolabaird.green at gmail.com. Thank you.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola

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