Joanna Haste

Joanna Haste is a DanceEast Tutor Assistant & Community Dance Artist.
"I’ve been dancing here at DanceEast since 2013, when I finished University. It’s a real privilege to have such beautiful facilities, here in Ipswich. I grew up dancing and also really enjoy helping people with additional needs, so assisting in Springboard classes was perfect for me! Over the years I’ve become more involved in all sorts of different classes and projects at DanceEast - they have so many styles and events, plus the staff are always smiling! I have especially happy memories of Spin Off, DanceEast’s additional needs performance company, performing on stage. It’s wonderful to watch so many young people have so much fun and grow in confidence."

Q&A with Joanna

What has been your favourite moment over the past 5 years spent at DanceEast?

Sometimes we have very withdrawn participants join our Springboard classes. My favourite moment has to be every time we’ve found a way to help one of these individuals engage in dance – whether its finding a song they love, or them being able to join the group in a circle… even if just for a split second. Progress means everything!

As a tutor assistant in our Springboard classes, in which ways have you witnessed dance positively affecting children with additional needs?

Springboard classes have infinite positive effects on the young people who attend them. From being an outlet where they can express how they’re truly feeling (without the risk of being told to sit still), to forming close bonds with new friends, to increases in confidence and creativity, to realising how much they’re really capable of – when often, they’ve been told their whole lives they can’t do this/that/etc., it’s a pleasure to watch them grow in every way.

In which ways do these classes positively affect you?

My heart is warmed every single Springboard session. The participants have so much hidden talent and consistently stretch their boundaries against what they have previously achieved. I still learn new ways of moving from them… plus I get to know I’m consistently making a positive difference to others’ lives, and of course get to dance and have fun at the same time!

Part of DanceEast’s vision as a charity is to make the East of England a place where everyone has the opportunity to engage with great dance. Accessibility is a huge part of that vision and we’re extremely proud of the work we are currently doing to support and encourage all young dancers. From your perspective, how can providing accessible classes benefit everyone?

Our bodies are constantly moving – no one is exempt from this, and in the same way, dance should be accessible to all. DanceEast offers people with additional physical, intellectual, mental and emotional needs (and more), to participate in dance, and that is in itself a beautiful thing. Not only this – DanceEast is also home to Spin Off, their additional needs performance company. Those who are lucky enough to get to experience a performance by Spin Off, will undoubtedly benefit. Whether through appreciating their clear and tangible passion for dance, or via a shift in their perception of what it really means to be a dancer. Dance benefits every life it touches.

What do you do when you aren’t at DanceEast? 

When I’m not at DanceEast (which isn’t very often!), I teach classes with Louise Kate Dance, and run Autism Movement Therapy sessions at my new, very own Ability School of Dance. I also try to fit in learning British Sign Language and spending time with my family and beloved cat!

What are your hopes and aspirations for the future?

I hope to continue to be involved with more and more exciting things happening right here at DanceEast, and also can’t wait to see my own classes at Louise Kate Dance and Ability School of Dance progress – perhaps even starting classes for Deaf individuals, plus those who struggle with their Mental Health. Plus, I’d like to have lots more cats…does that count?!

You can make a difference today, click here to donate, helping us to reach children and young people that might not otherwise have the opportunity to engage in dance.


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