Teaching at Pineapple .. an interview with Shaun Smith
Founded in 1979, Pineapple dance studios in London, UK has been synonymous with celebrity choreographers, dancers and for hosting regular casting calls for the entertainment industry. Famously, Beyonce, Madonna and Kylie Minogue have all used the studios for their rehearsals.
In 2010, life in the studios was turned into a TV documentary featuring Louie Spence and their clothing range has had great success across UK stores, cementing the Pineapple dance brand in mainstream culture.
We wanted to get the inside scoop into what it’s really like to teach at Pineapple today. Cue our interview with resident UDO faculty member Shaun Smith.
Along with dancer credits to his name such as Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, Shaun is a resident teacher at the famous Pineapple Dance Studios in London.
His street and commercial class welcome different ages and abilities to the mix and dancers can enjoy a friendly atmosphere, where they are encouraged to work at a pace that suits them.
UDOIT! Dance Foundation: Ace's Story
The UDOIT! Dance Foundation empowers their members through dance education, and involvement in sporting activity. This is the inspirational story of UDOIT! team member Ace.
I started learning about street dance culture in 2007, and quickly fell in love. I competed around the UK, placing at UDO Championships all over the country. At 16, I was told by an osteopath that I had a weak hip socket, and would need consistent treatment to keep it at the best performance level. As a naive 16-year-old, I ignored this; I thought that if I wasn't in pain, I was fine.
When I was 18, I realized that my body wasn't cut out to train as a professional dancer. I had to be honest with myself, and spoke to one of my A-level dance lecturers. They were so helpful, and pushed me to do what I wanted to do: I decided not to give up on dance by studying it at University. It wasn’t the professional training at Dance College I had anticipated, but it allowed me to continue my passion.
In 2013, I got accepted onto the ‘BA (Hons) Degree in Dance: Urban Practice’ at the University of East London, in which I gained experience in a range of dance styles, from Hip-Hop to Afro-House. I graduated in 2016, with a dream to continue my studies through a Post Graduate Certificate of Education (PGCE). I began my PGCE in September 2016, and focused on Dance and Special Needs Education. I started placements in the local college and was loving it. I knew that this path would make me happy.
In January 2017, I was teaching an after-school dance club one afternoon when suddenly I felt something snap inside my hip. For the next 8 months I was on crutches, hardly able to walk. Bounced from specialist to specialist, none of them could tell me what was going on inside my body. I was devastated, and battling against pain every day. I was eventually sent for an MRI, and finally in January 2018 I was given a diagnosis: I had early onset osteoarthritis. By then I hadn’t been dancing for over a year, yet upon hearing the news I just felt so relieved to finally know what was going on.
After 15 months of pain and injury, I refused to let it get the better of me. I attended a course and became a ParaDance UK Affiliated Instructor, in which I learnt to be able to teach dance to learners with Additional Learning Needs, and to wheelchair/mobility aid users. After having been unable to dance for over a year, I couldn’t help but feel that my community was lacking an inclusive dance centre. This was my way of giving my community that opportunity.
I was soon put onto a waiting list for hip surgery, and spent the next few months trying to get prepared for life after the operation. I had the operation on the 2nd of July 2018, and graduated from my PGCE only 6 days later. I may have gone across the stage on crutches, but knowing that this was the start of my recovery, and my new life, was so overwhelming. A week later I was offered a job in a Comprehensive School - I cannot wait to start my new life!