CYD?: Dancers at the forefront

Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.
Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.

CYD? is the largest touring and industry-leading dance convention company. Led by Matt Flint, co-creator of Can You Dance? Live, and Tom Shilcock, co-founder of Can You Dance?, the company was formed after they met on the BBC 1 TV show So You Think You Can Dance. 

With a passion for guiding and developing the next generation, the dancer’s experience is always at the forefront of every aspect to nurture and propel talent. 

Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.
Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.

In the early years, they began with one event and have now grown to eight Regional Conventions, four Teacher Conventions and their flagship event, the CYD? Super Convention. Each year, the company reaches new levels, and the statistics are impressive. In a year, there will be up to 120 tutors, 175 hours of dancing, 500 classes, 450 showcase performances, 500+ dance schools attending, 300 exhibitors and 27,000 attendees.

Both Flint and Shilcock boast impressive creditionals. Flint is a creative director/choreographer based in London with TV Credits which include: Queens Jubilee Platinum Party At The Palace (Creative Dir. BBC Studios/Events), Strictly Come Dancing – Series 9 – 20 (BBC), National Television Awards 2019-21 (Creative Dir. ITV), Masquerade Ball (Pilot, FOX), Children In Need (BBC), So You Think You Can Dance USA Season 8 Finale (FOX) and many more. With experience working in live and post-animation, he enjoys pushing creative boundaries with augmented reality, motion graphics and projection mapping to enhance performances visually.

Shilcock has danced for several international artists, including Jason Derulo, Rita Ora, Meghan Trainor, Take That, Cheryl Cole, Tulisa Constostavlos, Rihanna, Elton John, Gary Barlow, MeatLoaf, John Barrowman, Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox, Jessie J, Ant & Dec, Jamelia and many more. He has appeared on TV shows including The X FactorStars In Their Eyes (resident dancer), So You Think You Can Dance UK (top 5), Britain’s Got Talent, The Royal Variety Show, The Brit Awards, ITV Text Santa, Dancing On Ice, and he was part of the London 2012 Olympics and has performed in theatres, arenas and stadiums including the London Palladium, Wembley stadium and London’s iconic 02 arena.

Known to be at the forefront of the dance events industry, CYD? can be credited for introducing the dance convention scene to the UK. It was developed to create a platform where dancers can be educated and inspired in a supportive and professional environment. CYD? has always, and will always, put dancers at the forefront. Every one of the events has been designed around the dancers experience.

Dance Informa had the opportunity to catch up with Shilcock, to gain more insight on what it takes to run such a successful company which impacts the next generation.

Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.
Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.

Tom, CYD? is the largest touring and industry-leading dance convention company. It’s been running since 2012. How far in advance do you need to prepare for each event (regional conventions, Super Convention, Teachers Conventions and Masterclass Games)?

“With our season extending throughout the year, our preparation is ongoing! The Super Convention, being our largest event, demands particularly intensive planning, which typically ramps up approximately six months prior. Given the scale of the event — boasting over 200 main stage performances, 100 international exhibitors and drawing in 15,000 attendees — it requires meticulous coordination and careful planning.”

With impressive figures of attendees, exhibitors, classes, dance schools and performances, what do people walk away saying about their experience? 

“We have some wonderful feedback after our events, but the most consistent thing is how friendly and positive our events are which contributes to creating lasting memories that hold significant meaning for the dancers. It’s lovely to know that the experiences we create go beyond just the dance routines, leaving a lasting impact on the individuals who take part. We also get a lot of feedback on how well-organised our events are, which is always nice to hear.”

Absolutely, and this connects to your main objective, which is to always put dancers at the forefront and design events around their experience. How has this evolved over time? 

“Our commitment to placing dancers at the forefront has evolved through a continuous process of listening, learning and adapting to the ever-changing needs of the dance community. Initially, our focus was on providing quality training and opportunities, but as we gained insights into the diverse experiences of dancers, we recognised the importance of a holistic approach. We understand that the dance community is wonderfully diverse, and we have worked to celebrate and embrace this diversity. Our events reflect a commitment to inclusivity, welcoming dancers of all backgrounds, abilities and styles. This year, for the first time, we also included a safe space for dancers, with one-to-one mentoring.”

Can you tell us about the company of 55 dancers? 

“CYD? began its Dance Star Company in 2017. The company is formed from the UK’s best youth dancers from ages eight to 18 years! Each year, CYD? hosts annual auditions that put the dancers through a vigorous audition process for the chance to join the company, which is one of the strongest group of young dancers this country has ever seen! These dancers enjoy unparalleled opportunities, and complimentary training with CYD? featured profiles on our website, dedicated support, and the exciting chance to perform at the CYD? Super Convention!”

How have partners and sponsors assisted in elevating each event? 

“Partners and sponsors play a pivotal role in elevating each event by contributing valuable support and resources. Their involvement enhances various aspects of the event experience, fostering growth and success. Aside from the financial aspect, sponsors contribute to increased brand visibility for the event, often through marketing efforts, promotional materials and co-branded initiatives. This heightened visibility attracts a larger audience and can lead to sustained interest in future events.”

Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.
Can You Dance?. Photo courtesy of CYD?.

The 2024 CYD? x Joffrey UK intensive is a fantastic training opportunity. Can you tell us more about this collaboration with the Joffery Ballet School of New York City?

“Last year’s event was a great success, and we are honoured to be working with the renowned Joffrey Ballet School of New York City once again to bring a unique summer experience to the UK! The intensive is designed with versatility and adaptability in mind, with classes in ballet, jazz, contemporary and other styles of the commercial industry from the Joffrey Ballet School and Can You Dance? faculty. During the intensive, scholarships and awards will be offered, including the opportunity to audition for the Joffrey Ballet School 2025 Summer Intensives and the year-round Trainee Programs in New York City and Texas.”

What other awards will be offered throughout the CYD Masterclass Games?

“The CYD? Masterclass Games is a unique event based on the Olympics! Dance schools, and individual dancers from across the UK can compete for BRONZE, SILVER OR GOLD medals in our renowned CYD? Masterclasses! Then, at the end of the day, one school and one dancer is awarded overall champion! Other awards also given include Most Promising DancerRising Star, CYD? Shoutout, as well as awards in all the dance genres, such as tap, contemporary, commercial, jazz and musical theatre.”

With 2024 just around the corner, what can people expect from next year’s events? 

“Next year, we are hosting six Regional Conventions, a Teachers Convention, the CYD? Masterclass Games, CYD? Northern Ireland, the CYD x Joffrey Summer Intensive, as well as our flagship event, the CYD? Super Convention. We will also be holding two live auditions in the new year for the 2024 Dance Star company!”

To learn more about CYD?, head to www.canyoudancelive.com.

By Renata Ogayar of Dance Informa.

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