Dance activist insists she can get anyone dancing!

Brighton dance activist Lya is absolutely convinced she could get absolutely anyone dancing.

Lya Abdou Issa
Lya Abdou Issa

She insists she doesn’t even see it as a challenge.

All you need is a heart that is beating... and then to find your hidden dance spirit.

“Even people who have never ever danced before, you just need to reawaken the dance spirit that is there within everyone,” she says.

“It is there. It is definitely there. It just needs a little push and I am the person to make that little push. I wouldn’t even see it as a challenge anymore.

“I know that if you follow the instructions and if you are reasonably comfortable with your body, you can do it. You can dance.”

Lya is thrilled to be joining Brighton’s Our City Dances festival with a couple of pop-up dance workshops which will prove her point.

She will be in action in St Peter’s Square, York Place on Monday, July 19 at 8.30am to invigorate you for the week ahead; and on Friday, July 23 at 6pm she will loosen you up for the weekend. Book your place on [email protected]

Lya, aka BLK Diamond, has become a familiar presence on Hove seafront in recent months, running her participatory sessions Dance Like Everybody’s Watching, which aim to make people feel seen and celebrated in public spaces by finding their own movement, rhythm, style and performative personality.

She is now offering these two workshops as suitable for all ages.

“I used to be very private with my dancing before, but now I want to be outside and showing my skills, and it is great. It was during lockdown. Because I am a social butterfly I felt like I needed to express myself and to be out there. I am a performer. I just started to do it and I was putting myself out there after Black Lives Matter. I wanted to be out there and to represent myself and to express myself and to reclaim the streets through dance.

“I am black. I am from another background. I want you guys to see me as an expressive piece of art, to show that it is OK to be a dancer, that it is OK to be safe. People see the act of dance and they see that they can do it themselves, that they don’t have to be indoors with no one watching.”

And that’s precisely the idea behind Dance Like Everybody’s Watching.

“It is about showing your identity, about being true to yourself.

“I dance because it allows me to be aware of my emotions and revive all those emotions through movement. I speak louder than words when I dance.

“It just makes me feel alive. Nothing else can do it in the same way.

“If I am feeling bad or down, I put my music on and I dance. It is the way I connect with all my issues and the way that I deal with all my issues.

“And it is about being strong with your identity, that you can dance whatever background you come from. You can show your performative personality.

“People often say that they can’t dance, that they have two left feet, that they don’t have the rhythm, but I always say that if you have got your heartbeat, then you have got your rhythm. And I could see that when I started doing this publicly, people were communicating with me, they were asking me what I was doing. It just made me feel more visible by dancing.”

For the full Our City Dances programme, see