Hackney dance class needs funding to provide free sessions for London Fields community

Wild Things is a weekly dance and play session held in London Fields

Wild Things is a weekly dance and play session held in London Fields - Credit: Olly Otley

Wild Things, a weekly dance and play session on London Fields, is aiming to get more funding so “it would be completely free for anyone who wanted to attend.”

Olly Otley, founder and community dance practitioner, said: “In an ideal world” she would be able to secure funding to make the sessions free for those who want to attend.

“Everything I do I want to make fully accessible.”

The weekly sessions, held in a woodland area in London Fields, combine dance with being outdoors for children aged two to four with their parents and cost £5 per session.

Otley said that while this may seem inexpensive to some, for others this could be “a hell of a lot”, and that those who found this to be a barrier could “pay what they can afford.”

As numbers of participants tend to fall in cold weather, Otley said it might make sense to pause the sessions until mid February.

The first session ran outside in October 2020 under pandemic restrictions. Otley was originally planning to start something earlier in the year at an indoors venue but couldn’t, and started thinking about outdoor alternatives instead.

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She said: “I live locally and have children at a local school, so I WhatsApped a few people to see if they wanted to be my guinea pigs, and it went really well.”

The sessions begin with warm ups sometimes based around the weather, moving around or playing hide and seek, sometimes with music.

The group is encouraged to explore, dance and make things out of natural materials in the space. At the end everyone is brought together for games, sometimes cèilidh dancing and a cool down with bubbles.

Otley said the group was about “getting the children comfortable moving with the parents” but is “just as much for the parents as it is for the children”, hopefully giving them skills they can take home.

Olly Otley is a community dance artist who works in schools, studios and forests, with toddlers, teenagers and adults.

Find out more about Otley and Wild Things at oodance.co.uk

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