Crawley Community Award winners Fi Steps show lockdown was not going to stop them

After almost 30 years of weekly dance classes for local aspiring performing kids - and not even a national lockdown was going to stop Fiona Whyte (Fi Steps Founder and Principal) from keeping the local dance school “Fi Steps” going in Crawley and Horsham.

Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 10:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th June 2021, 10:03 am

Last week, Fi Steps won the Crawley Community Award for Performing Arts for the work they did during lockdown. Here Fiona talks about what the last 18 months have been like and what they have done to keep everything going.

Before the lockdown was enforced in March 2020, Fi Steps was well organised and already offering secure on-line Zoom classes to ensure the children wouldn’t miss out on their fun and energised dance rehearsal as there was the yearly Fi Steps show to prepare for in Sept!

Fi Steps won the Performing Arts award at last week's Crawley Community Awards. Picture by Jon Rigby

Although by the 2020 spring, as lockdown timelines were becoming more uncertain, the Fi Steps activities just seemed to grow and grow. This was to ensure that during these uncertain times, the kids had the familiarity of their dance classes, to try and maintain some normality, with a big focus on the physical and mental health of the Fi Steps Student (& their families). Therefore, there was not only the usual weekly Fi Step dance classes on going, there was so much more, here are just some examples:

- Show & tell sessions of home baking, pictures, home activities

- Fi Steps challenges, such as singing, lip-syncing & funny family videos

- Family quizzes

- Fitness classes

- Colouring activities

- Teachers pick me up packages

Even care packages were sent out to all the students to keep them busy while at home!

By the late summer of 2020 Socially distanced Classes were then allowed to return, but Fi Steps still continued to offer on-line classes in case anyone was self-isolating but could feel that they weren’t isolated! That’s the Fi Steps Family way . Furthermore, with indoor class numbers being restricted,

Fi Steps organised many outdoor classes and workshops free of charge. This was all done at a local sports club so the student and families could remain safe and secure. And to not disappoint and cancel the Sep showcase, this is then where the Fi Steps annual showcase took place. Which allowed the students and families to meet up outside (socially distanced of course!) and celebrate in the hard work the Fi Steps family had achieved, even during these difficult times. With an awards ceremony, awards, medals, certificates included free gifts and personalised hand sanitiser bottles – the community spirit was high! All joining together after a long time apart.

It did not end there, as the special outside performance and lockdown activities were then all captured in a free DVD that was given for all students and families to cherish.

Then came the second lockdown in the Winter of 2020 and Fi was back on zoom, continually ensuring all the student had the normality and escape of their weekly dance classes. The start of the new year may have been doom and gloom for most as lockdown continued, but Fi Steps grew from strength to strength – with some AMAZING on-line celebrity and west end star lead workshops free to all students. Along with many other free activities that were opened to the local Crawley and Horsham communities. By the end of April 2021 here is the highlights of what was offered:

Free on-line sessions open to the Horsham, Crawley and surrounding community for

o TikTok dances

o Princess party

o Hip hop classes

o Peppa Pig dance class

o Lion King workshop

o Billionaire Boy workshop

Free on-line workshops for the Fi Steps students lead by West End stars for

o Not 1 but 2 Strictly Star dance classes – One with Glitterball winner Joanne Clifton and the other with Graziano Di Prima

o Hairspray

o School of Rock

o Hamilton

o Matlida

o Tina Turner

o Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

o Newsies

o Mary Poppins

o Fame

o Beetlejuice

o Thriller

o Six the musical & so much more, too many to mention

Free on-line workshops with top industry professionals

o Contemporary

o Commercial

o Yoga & Pilates classes & so much more

o Mindfulness

o Hip Hop

The list goes on and on but in total there were over 30 different workshops going on. So much so that between Jan to Mar 2021 over 250 hours of on-line activities had been offered to the Fi Steps students in just those 3 months alone. Students were sent handwritten postcards and Easter eggs.

Preparation and dance classes continue, being flexible and aligned with government requirements as all this hard work and amazing opportunities are to be performed at the annual Fi Steps showcase at the Hawth in Sept “30”– where Fi Steps will be celebrating 30 years. Fi Steps is more than just a dance school, it is a family and embedded in the community for all to be a part of but offers such amazing opportunities for its students to build life-long memories of, in a safe and self-expressive environment.

So Fi Steps is now offering more classes than ever to their students and all first classes are free to anyone that wants to try them out. Classes from Performance dance, Street dance, Musical Theatre, Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, Lyrical etc. (visit www.fisteps.com for more info). And the future for Fi Steps students is looking so bright, as soon as covid guidelines allow, Fi Steps will be Performing at the Hawth in Sept, at the Silverstone Grand Prix, Shaftesbury Theatre, Disneyland Paris, Broadway to just mention a few. Such an inspiring performing dance school to be a part of.

For more information email [email protected] (Hours Mon-Fri 10am-2pm) or call 01403 888182

Crawley Branch: Hut 5, Tilgate Recreational Centre, Tilgate, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 5PH

(Use RH11 9BQ for sat nav and via right into Tilgate Recreational Centres rather than K2)

Horsham Branch: Millais Dance Studio, Millais School, Depot Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 5HR

Instagram @fisteps

Twitter @fisteps