FROM little steps a Liverpool dance company is now taking big strides in its strategy to become an international phenomenon.
Movema – pronounced MOO-veh-ma which means “to move” in St Lucian patois – was formed three years ago but has already doubled turnover to £100,000, 70% of which was income generated giving the not-for-profit company limited by guarantee a firm financial foundation.
Headed by four co directors, Penny Caffrey, Maria Malone who is currently in India, Ithalia Forel and Pei Tong, the company has a clear vision and strategy.
Ms Forel said: “We came together because we knew each other through the dance world or studying together and realised we had an interest in world dance and wanted to share it with the world.”
Ms Tong added: “We do Caribbean, Indian, Chinese dance and wanted to bring it together.”
Their diverse backgrounds – Ms Tong is a pharmacist, Ms Forel developed charities, Ms Malone was in event management and Ms Caffrey ran a dance company – also provide a wide mix of business experience.
Movema stages and organises various dance events, the most recent being its Olympic Torch welcome on St George’s Plateau last Friday which involved more than 200 participants.
Other services include working with people such as a neighbouring group in their Black-E headquarters in Great George Street who have additional needs, youngsters, and the elderly.
Ms Forel said: “Our aim is to get as many people, regardless of age, ability or what’s going on in your life.”
Many of their events have a health focus. Ms Caffrey revealed: “A lot of classes are built around health, for example mental health for the elderly and learning dance moves to keep the brain going.
“But they also give an outlet for creativity and release anxiety, which helps control breathing.”
“And it’s fun,” added Ms Forel.
The company also works closely with festivals, particularly the upcoming Africa Oyé festival later this month in Sefton Park.
Ms Forel said: “It is probably our biggest festival which attracts about 20,000 people each day and we engage with at least 10% of them.”
However, business and the corporate world is also a big opportunity for Movema and Ms Forel said: “We were part of the Grand National this year which helped us realise how corporates do things, which is very different to the arts world.”
Previous contacts with business included a spectacular fancy dress routine with Merseytravel staff for Comic Relief and an event with consumer goods giant Unilever.
Ms Caffrey said: “We did a Bollywood dance-off at a Unilever global event which helped people unwind and get to know each other. People were in suits and were quite conservative, but every single person joined in.”
The team said businesses usually look for something “high energy” such as the Merseytravel performance, but sometimes they will go with creative.
Ms Caffrey said: “It helps people’s creativity to come out, instead of being told what to do.”
Despite pleasing turnover progress Ms Forel said conditions are still hard because there’s less work about. But they are focusing on how to expand, which could include franchising.
This could be linked to their international ambitions as, this September, Movema is taking Liverpool youngsters to Brazil to work with community groups in the favelas, or shanty towns.
Two years after that Brazil hosts the FIFA football world cup and in 2016 the Olympics comes to Rio and Ms Forel said: “We are looking at those, but by then we hope young people will be doing this instead of us. In the future, maybe we will all have specialisms and will be bringing in millions of pounds of support and sponsorship.”