Models of Practice
Dance & Youth Work


In our approach to arts and youth work we think of three things:  art as education, art as fun and art as a professional option.

The Rialto Youth Project’s Dance Programme is structured into four age-related developmental strands. Each strand offers a clear progression in dance for young people from their primary school years through to transition from secondary school to further dance training and other creative directions.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme


We believe in equality of opportunity for children and young people. We believe in the uniqueness, dignity and equal worth of young people and in their right to access opportunities that enhance their lives. Young people should be treated equally.


We believe in challenging and making a long-term commitment to transforming unjust social conditions through a pragmatic interface with the real politics of change. We are committed to social justice around questions of access to education.


We believe in the transformative power of art and creativity as a way of working with young people. We have a long tradition and a strong commitment to arts and cultural practice as a means of creative expression across a range of forms including the visual arts, theatre, music dance and street performance.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme

Dance is freedom, expression, energy, fun, confidence building, movement, technique, progression, focus, concentration, skill, challenge, alive, real, performative and about a connection with audience and creativity.

Definition of Dance

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of our approach to youth work and dance we will define what we mean by dance.

Dance is about freedom, pride, energy, heart and soul. It’s about expressing yourself.

Dance is about progression. Over time you can see young people come through the Dance Programme and pass on their skills through the Lines of Flight Leadership Programme.

It’s about kids being free, freedom of minds, having focus, getting it right and pulling it off. In dance you can see a young person’s determination to get it right. They don’t give up until they do.

Dance is about friendship and helping each other out. It’s about energy and movement: moving to shift your energy. Dance is a means of communication.

Dance Philosophy

In RYP we have developed our own pedagogy for dance and youth work. Pedagogy is about the art and the science of education. In our approach to dance and youth work we don’t claim to be highly scientific but we do claim to be artful in the way we go about it. In this section we describe some of those artful ways of working.

We feel dance is a right and dance is for life. It is also about what dance can give you in your life.

Dance is not static, it is forever moving. In our approach we see dance as a living, breathing, changing artistic process.

Exchange and dialogue is an intrinsic part of the Dance Programme to ensure all voices are heard.

In our Dance Programme we emphasise creativity and imagination, through developing skills in technique, improvisation and choreography.

A range of leadership roles and teaching methods are employed that facilitate inclusive participation, encourage self directed creative work and grow a sense of collective ownership amongst participants.

We place a strong emphasis on self-directed work: learning that is not always teacher-led. We maintain this emphasis at all levels of the programme from 5 to 7 year olds upwards.

We support young people who show particular interest and passion in dance. We encourage them to commit to the Dance Programme, by putting in place clear guidelines and boundaries to facilitate active participation.

For young people who show particular aptitude and/or interest in taking their dance studies further, we work with them to develop individual progression routes.

Public showcases and regular platform performances form a major part of the work. These help to develop expressive and communication skills, a sense of individual/group achievement and an appreciation of the rich variety of dance styles.

We place great value on encounters with the wider dance community, in order to enable greater access and engagement and to encourage young people to express themselves in new and different ways.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme

Dance Programme
Four Developmental Strands

  1. Little Steps, Big Pathways is a foundational programme in movement and dance for 5 to 7 year olds. In our long experience of arts-based youth work we have seen that children with a broad exposure to a range of artistic forms at this early stage are in a better position to focus their creative interests in those crucial later transition years between primary and secondary education.
  2. Stepping Stones is a transition movement and Dance Programme, which offers a progression for 8 to 10 year olds from the dance foundations of Little Steps, Big Pathways. Stepping Stones has specific components aimed at developing the young person’s creative capacity and enjoyment of dance.
  3. On the Road is a skills-based Dance Programme with an emphasis on self-directed learning. Young people are encouraged to develop a focused approach to dance, to experiment and to develop their own movements. This programme is a progression from Stepping Stones.
  4. Lines of Flight aims to encourage older teenagers to adopt leadership roles in our arts-based activities such as mentoring younger dancers, assisting in facilitating dance workshops and participating in planning the programme through placement with the Dance Working Group.

Little Steps Big Pathways

A Foundational Dance Programme for 5 to 7 Year Olds

Programme Profile

The Little Steps, Big Pathways Dance Programme introduces basic body movements through warm up exercises, music games, introduction to rhythm, performance in dance sessions, participation in Dance Showcases and self-directing through creative play.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme


Warm Up, Stretching, Listening & Observation, Introduction to Rhythm – Clapping & Stamping, Music Games, Moving Your Body, Movement and Fun, Performance in dance sessions, Self-directing through different poses & playing with movement, Use of imagination.


Showcases entail children & young people performing for each other wherever they are at in the process, showcasing their talents for each other, parents & family members.



Listening & observation skills, Greater confidence & awareness of dance forms achieved through listening-based processes, Increased movement awareness & understanding of dance in storytelling, Improved concentration & coordination, Improved numeracy, Enhanced imaginative capabilities & exploration of movement.

Stepping Stones

A Transitional Dance Programme for 8 to 10 Year Olds

Programme Profile

Stepping Stones is a transitional movement and Dance Programme which aims to develop the young person’s creative capacity and enjoyment of dance. It offers a broad and structured Dance Programme with an emphasis on helping the young person to find their creative interests. The programme encourages interaction with older teenagers to encourage a sense of progression in dance.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme


Listening & Observation, Developing Musicality: Phrasing, Rhythm, Counting Beats & Melody, Learning & Performing Basic Dance Routines, Session Structures: Warm Up, Step-by-Step, Stretching & Routine, Cool Down. Learning Dance Styles: Hip Hop, Free Style, Contemporary, Break Dance & Ballet.


The Stepping Stones Showcases include annual performance–based events such as Summer Festivals aimed at a local audience of family & friends. Dance is also showcased through performances as part of Music Clubs at the F2 Centre. These showcase events provide an important platform for building family & school support for children & young people’s creative dance talents.


More focused curriculum where participants identify an interest in their chosen dance forms, Basic creative skills acquired across a range of dance forms, Experience of performance in a range of community-based/public events, Confidence in movement expression, Development of basic technical skills, Development of social skills, & Development of identification with dance/creative self.

On the Road

A Skills-Oriented Dance Programme for 11 to 14 Year Olds

Programme Profile

On the Road encourages the young person to develop their self-expression and dance identity. There is a greater focus on skills acquisition. New dance components are introduced such as self-directed dance (choosing styles and techniques), creating your own choreography and developing dance confidence. New technical elements are introduced through which the young person can develop in terms of ambition and scope.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme


Developing Dance Confidence, Building Collaborative & Teamwork Skills, Advanced Choreography, Expanding Dance Styles, Learning Responsibility such as Designing & Taking Care of Costumes, Planning & Evaluating, Supporting Younger Children, Self-Directed Dance, Exploring & Choosing Different Dance Styles & Techniques.


In addition to participating in CoisCéim Broadreach workshops, young people experience live performance at key moments in the yearly programme of community-based events in Rialto. Local showcases strengthen family support for young people’s involvement in dance & contribute to a wider community understanding of the RYP’s approach to arts development.


Enhanced skills in chosen dance forms & performance skills, More robust identification with movement/dance, Participation in training & study visits, Enhanced curriculum in dance via a number of pilot projects, Continuum of programming building into quality community events, Greater ability to work collaboratively.

Lines of Flight

A Dance Leadership Programme for Older Teenagers

Programme Profile

Lines of Flight focuses on self-directed learning, providing opportunities for older teenagers to inspire and teach younger dancers. Lines of Flight aims to develop a leadership model for young people participating in community-based dance practice, integrating intercultural, human rights and social justice initiatives into the Dance Programme where appropriate.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme


Self-Directed Work & Programme Planning, Creating Original Choreography, Dance Leadership: Taking Ownership over the Work, Setting up Sessions, Taking Greater Responsibility, Influencing the Programme, Taking Part in Public Performance & Dance Showcases / Platforms, Mentoring Younger Dancers.


Showcases include annual performance–based events such as Summer Festivals aimed at a local audience of family & friends. Dance is also showcased through performances as part of Music Clubs at the F2 Centre. These showcase events provide an important platform for building family & school support for children & young people’s creative dance talents.


Enhanced Capacity for Teamwork & Team Building, Enhanced Leadership in different elements of the Dance Programme including Performance, Greater Commitment to dance.

our critics speak!

Where & When

The Dance Programme has formally existed for the past 4 years. Before formalising the programme, we ran taster workshops mainly during the summer months. Since then, we have built up the Dance Programme from a core group of 10 to approximately 50 young people age 4 to18yrs who engage on a weekly basis in various workshops. We introduced a range of dance styles into the programme based on young people’s interest as well as their skill development. We encourage older teenagers to pass on their knowledge and skills to younger dancers, which creates the foundation for ongoing peer support and mentoring, facilitating young people to grow and develop within the programme. We also work alongside older teenagers to build their Individual Learning Plan (ILP). The ILPs focus on Core Skills, Basic Skills and Issues. The youth worker and young person together ascertain what skills the young person needs and what support they require to develop those skills, thereby encouraging greater self-direction. We believe that regular performances, locally and at peer events in Dublin give young people the opportunity to really fine-tune their performance skills while also developing core and basic skills. We have realised large-scale performances with up to 60 dancers. The programme as a whole gives us the opportunity to build strong relationships with young people, enabling them to progress in life while doing something they are passionate about.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme

Key Values


Building Relationships

We’re committed to building good, positive relationships with young people and their families. It’s at the heart of what we do. We aim to find healthy and constructive ways to build relationships. We value the difference made to young people’s lives by investing time in developing meaningful relationships between youth workers and young people.


Working with Young People Where They’re At

We believe in working with young people where they’re at. This requires flexibility and creativity. Our programme can change to meet the needs of the person rather than the other way around.


Choice and Opportunity

We believe in offering real choices to young people and supporting them to make choices that are right for them. We’re committed to creating possibilities for young people to access life opportunities and to grow within their community.



We engage, empower and support young people to build their own capacity. We believe in self-empowerment and working to empower young people. We believe in young people’s capacity to make good decisions and transcend imposed limits.

Rialto Youth Project Dance Programme

I have been dancing for 15 years. I have taught workshops in Venezuela, Netherlands, the UK and Poland. To me working for a Community Project is completely different to a regular dance studio. With a Community Project young people progress, their gain gives you bigger satisfaction from your work. Being able to shape young people’s characters and become part of their life was always something I strived for.    

Mateusz Szczerek, Founder & Director of So Little Crew Dance Company & Dance Facilitator RYP Dance Programme

Programme Coordination

The Rialto Youth Project’s Dance Programme is coordinated by the Dance Working Group, which is made up of 1 Youth Worker, 2 Project Workers within the RYP Homework Clubs and 3 dancers. This Working Group meets once every 4 to 6 weeks to plan, develop and review the Dance Programme. In addition to coordinating the Arts Working Groups, the Arts Team Co-ordinators meet weekly to ensure a shared approach to planning and reviewing the RYP Arts Programme.

The Rialto Youth Project’s Information Management System (IMS) assists in the Dance Programme planning and review. The Information Management System stores Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for every young person from 10 years of age upwards. It also stores Programme Session Sheets, Summaries and the Logic Model Planning Tool. These tools enable us to plan and develop the Dance Programme with young people. The IMS also allows us to extract quantitative and qualitative data, enabling us to plan and support our work from a strong evidence base.

Rialto Youth Project and the Arts

The RYP Dance Programme is one of 5 core developmental arts programmes. RYP is also engaged in many long-term collaborative arts projects, seasonal festivals, performance events / exhibitions and conferences that attract hundreds of local participants and multiple audiences city-wide and nationally. There is also an active EU and International dimension to key aspects of the work of RYP and the Rialto Arts Plan (2012 – 2016). The Rialto Arts Plan sets out a vision for a new and innovative model of local arts development, to be delivered through key strategic partnerships organised at local, city and national level.


Nichola Mooney

Rialto Youth Project,
St. Andrew’s Community Centre,
468 South Circular Road,
Dublin 8.

P: (01) 4531638
E: Nichola