25 July 2024
  • 25 July 2024

right2dance celebrates its landmark 50th anniversary

on 15 December 2023 0

Beloved by droves of people within our local community, Paisley’s right2dance is celebrating its landmark 50th anniversary

Although it went under various guises and monikers over the years, the name right2dance couldn’t be more fitting for this organisation. Rather than just being a throwaway slogan, it’s intrinsic to how the place has functioned since its earliest days.

“It began in 1973 as part of the Council, before becoming a registered charity in 1999,” reflected Company Co-ordinator Aileen Palombo. “Initially, the classes were in Eastwood, Greenock and Paisley. So, after a few name changes, we became right2dance at the suggestion of the dancers there at the time. 

“It’s all about taking dance to people who might assume that it isn’t necessarily for them or maybe wouldn’t have access,” she continued.

“That’s why we do a lot of things that are free or low-cost. Creativity is important, and it’s all about making it accessible to everyone. We’re an inclusive dance company, we work with everyone from young children to older people and have participants with additional support needs. We really believe in what we do.” 

An ethos rather than a business model, this dance company – which is based in Paisley’s West Primary School – often plays a larger role in people’s lives than just a mere pastime.

On top of the former trainees who go onto careers in dance, that experience of expressing yourself and the lessons learned there can be hugely beneficial in ways that go beyond the stage. 

right2dance

Photo by Graeme Hewitson ©right2dance

“There’s a lot of people who’ve grown up within the company. Joanne [McKissack] has been coming here since she was wee and is now a dance artist while Beth, our trainee dance artist, came here when she was younger too,” said Aileen.

“I joined when I was in fifth year of high school and there’s a lot of people who stick with it as a career. But, we also support people who only want to come once a week too. 

“I think we get that balance right, because we also try to create opportunities and ensure that you get more than just your weekly class. That might be performing at events or masterclasses with choreographers.


“We’re an inclusive dance company, we work with everyone from young kids to older people and have students with additional support needs”


“Through funding from Renfrewshire Council’s Culture Heritage and Events Fund, we even had [Tony Award Winner and OBE] Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures company come up here for residencies, which was an amazing experience for a lot of young people. 

“We also do Go Dance at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal and we take dancers every year,” she continued. “It’s a great opportunity to create work to perform at a large-scale venue that’s a bit different to what you’d do at your usual performances.

“Locally, we do Sma’ Shot Day, Paisley Halloween Festival and we’ve just performed in Macbeth with Paisley Opera at the newly refurbished Town Hall. These things are about raising aspirations and showing the different opportunities that are available.

“Friendships are very important too. People could easily sit and talk through an entire class until we’re like, right, let’s do some dancing (laughs). When we go to events, the dancers love it because it’s a time where they get to chat with their pals and interact with friends that they maybe don’t go to school with. 

“Even in our flying feet classes [for ages 5-7], you can see children’s confidence grow from when they first come in and they’re maybe a bit shy to suddenly having the confidence to get up and do a move or share their ideas,” she said of the empowering effect of what they do.

right2dance

Photo by Graeme Hewitson ©right2dance

“That’s obviously important if they go on to do dance, but there’s also a lot of transferable skills that they learn. Often, we hear about people reflecting on a leadership experience that they had here or even the creativity required or needed to work as a team.” 

“You’re nurtured and you feel safe enough to explore what you want to be,” Joanne declared. “That is definitely the case in professional dance, but we also get people saying ‘aw, I used that in an interview’ that’s got nothing to do with dance.”

Modest as they may be, there’s no way to see what right2dance has achieved as anything other than half a century of success and positive contributions to their community. Rather than congratulating themselves, Aileen, Joanne and the team are just focused on continuing to make that change they want to see in the world around them. 

“As it’s been here so long, I think it shows that something we’re doing is working,” Aileen and Joanne concurred. “Although it’s 50 years old, we’re always trying to stay current and introduce new dance styles as they become more popular.

“It’s just amazing to think how many people it’s reached in that time. We meet people all the time who say ‘I did a right2dance workshop once’ or ‘I went there when I was wee’, it’s amazing. We just want people to have an environment where they’re safe to socialise, express themselves and have fun.” 

For more information, check out right2dancepaisley on Facebook

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