Categotry Archives: Event

Arts 4 Dementia Conference

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Yesterday I attended the Arts 4 Dementia Best Practice Conference, “Towards Social Prescribing (Arts & Heritage) for the dementias”. It was jam pack day that left me thinking. There were also a huge amount of important thoughts and ideas shared by speakers so I thought I would share some aspects of the experience. 

We were welcomed by Veronica Franklin Gould who was the driving force behind the day and who is clearly extremely well-respected by her colleagues, I can see why. Immediately she left us with actions to complete… Providers of relevant activities should sign up to the Arts 4 Dementia website and notify the local NHS social prescribers. A clear message… share information and start a conversation. 

We not only heard from professionals working in the field, but also from Christine Maddocks about her experience living with vascular dementia. In Alexandra Coulter’s words she was “the voice of the individual in the system”. She inspired everyone and was an instant reminder to all of why we were there. 

One of the most relevant sections of the day for me was when two outstanding academics, Dr Daisy Fancourt and Professor Sebastian Crutch spoke. Relevant because we are about to run our own research into Active Armchairs, but also because the studies that have already been carried out can influence our provision and teaching.

Daisy talked about how the arts are multi modal (they have lots of components at play) so there are a wide variety of outcomes. She said “The more people engaged with these [arts] activities, the better their memory was years on.” A fact that can boost all providers of arts activities to anyone, if they are living with dementia or not. As dance artists and arts providers, we can also take other things from her speech. For example, we should try to include lots of different elements and approaches such as song, dance, conversation. Theses are already all important elements of Active Armchairs, but perhaps we can develop this further.

Having taken part in the Created Out of Mind training and I’ve also read about his research, I was keen to hear what Professor Sebastian Crutch had to say. He encouraged us to bring in people with a lived experience and find what works for them. The slide in the photo shows how different people are affected in different ways with different dementias. In summary, everyone is different and so the effect of the dementia is different too. 

He said “What people really need is continuity of support” and I would whole heartedly agree with this. I’ve seen the disappointment when a fantastic arts intervention has to end due to funding. It will be a difficult hurdle to jump. One that those spearheading social prescription seem to think will be solved by volunteers, but that’s another story. 

Sebastian also talked about the importance of support and community. Care is varied across the country, but he encourages people to learn about online support such as Facebook groups and said “Nothing local is not the same as nothing available.”

The comment that resonated with me most was when he said “The fact that it’s in the moment, or short-term, doesn’t make it irrelevant.” He was referring to the various graphs showing short-term and long-term improvements, some of which are only present during a session. I have always considered that, when working with anyone, the moment is just as important as the outcome. In fact, in dance, working to an outcome such as a performance can be stressful. A participatory project often has more benefits to health and well-being and the journey is key. 

After refreshments, we heard from Dr Michael Dixon, OBE GP. He speaks very highly of social prescription and is extremely positive about the initiative. He was inspiring. He said we’re “caught in the scissors of doom” (increasing costs and a reduction in funding), sees social prescription as a way out and believes that prevention is critical to the survival of our health services. I believe that it’s not only that we should think of; If we can prevent illness, we also prevent pain and suffering. 

The thinking is changing, why wait.
Dr Michael Dixon, OBE GP

The keynote speech was given by Baroness Greengross, a lady whose prestigious achievements, when listed, take up a lot of space. She clearly has a passion and knowledge for the subject and believes “The key is timing. We must guide people to the arts at the earliest stages.”

 

 


In plenary debate, chaired by Dr Marie Polley, we heard from six people (see list in photo) for five minutes each. Various points of views were heard and it was concluded that there was more conversation to be had and that a group for Arts and Dementia must be created as part of the network. I would go further in suggesting that, a group representing the artists should be created too. Social prescription will not work without them. 

“Where people’s’ souls are nurtured as well as their bodies.”
Professor Martin Green OBE FIAM FInstLM, FRSA, FIPSM, Cheif Executive Care England

“It really should be about conversation”
Georgia Chimbani, Dementia Lead, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services

“Biggest thing to happen in the arts for some time.”
Dr Richard Ings, Arts in Health, Wellbeing and Criminal Justice lead, Arts Council England.

Ian McCreath summed up in a way that I recognise as the approach used by many arts organisations and individuals to deliver their services, “Universal, but recognising that some people require additional support.” I agree, sessions only for those living with dementia and their carers have a place, but I believe in an inclusive approach whenever possible and appropriate. 

The afternoon was split into two sections of relevant examples. The first was entitled Arts for People Affected by Early-Stage Dementia, chaired by Dr Patricia Vella-Burrows who I’ve been lucky enough to hear speak and learn from a several times now. Examples from poetry and music were, of course of interest, especially Gemma Dixon’s story of Bob who played the organ before class. “His confidence was boosted, he had ability to speak in full sentences where he couldn’t before”.

 

 

The section about dance was most relevant though and it was a delight to hear from Dr Sophia Hulbert and neurophysiotherapist who has a love of dance. It was boosting for me that many of the things Sophia attributed to the success of her sessions (including items in the photo of ‘Conceptual Underpinning) are also found within Active Armchairs.

 

Sophia also did a quick demonstration. This was a fantastic way to get everyone reawakened after lunch and demonstrated how “Imagery can really empower movement”. In this case the imagery was also uplifting as it was about flying in a hot air balloon. I always enjoy seeing a conference of people who usually sit at a desk dancing! 

 

 

The second section in the afternoon gave everyone a better understanding about how Social Prescription can, and does, work. Nicky Taylor talked about how working in partnership has more impact, Dr Richard Hooker encouraged us to always remember the carers, Wendy Gallagher told us about the Handbook for engagement with people living with dementia and Bogdan Chiva Giurca, an extremely inspiring young man said that “One step is to bridge the inter generational gap”. Kathryn Gilfoy, Director at Resonate Arts, had many examples of different activities to share and I enjoyed her slide about the benefits of arts and person centred care.

Following this Professor Helen Chatterjee MBE discussed social isolation and how museums can help combat it. Her points about the research already carried out motivate artists to provide deep level cognitive stimulation to ensure that activities are truly engaging. I also picked up some more thoughts for the up coming Active Armchairs research project. 

Nigel Franklin, Chief Executive, Arts 4 Dementia, closed the day. In just a few minutes he left us with actions and inspirations.

“There are more people living with dementia now that ever have before.”
Nigel Franklin, Chief Executive, Arts 4 Dementia

It was one of those days that leaves your brain fuzzed with thoughts and ideas. I will act on them.

In terms of practical application, I believe there are some gaps that still need exploring, transport and fair payment for artists for example, but as an overall ideal for shifting prescription to preventative measures, I’m completely on board. Not just for people living with dementia though, if done well, Social Prescription could help everyone with their health and well-being and provide a cultural shift. We will see.

I do hope The Right Step will be found delivering prescribed dance activity, especially as what we currently offer is already of high quality and always developing to suit the needs of participants, but we will have to see how the commissioning side evolves and how we are able to be included.

I will conclude with an open invitation for anyone working in social prescribing to contact me. We must open conversation about how we can bring dance with a health and well-being agenda to the masses.

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Book Week 2019

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It’ taken a while to get this published because we’ve been collating lots of bits from some of the different TRS Teachers involved. Georgie has very kindly put everything together and here’s what she’s said…

We had some lovely Educating Dance Book Week sessions this year at TRS, they even went over 2 weeks! We went to Balfour Infants School in Rochester and St Michael’s Primary School in Chatham and St Mary’s Primary School in Gillingham. TRS teachers Katie, Steph and I have told us about their time spent at these schools.

St Michael’s Primary

Georgie: I love it when book week comes around each year. It’s always exciting to hear what stories you’ll be telling through dance with the participants. So, when I found out that St Michael’s wanted do Myths and Legends, I was very excited!  I decided to focus on Greek myths and legends, their hero’s, Gods and Goddesses. Especially Hercules! We went around the room and explored 4 different characters, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon and Hercules. Coming up with different movements like showing off our muscles, throwing lightning bolts and going swimming in the sea, for each one. I then taught a short routine where we told a simple story of Hercules through dance which the children picked up really well and really got into character! The last part of the lessons involved the students creating their own myth as a class for us to tell through dance. They chose a main character, a side kick and a villain. We used the likes of Medusa and Cerberus for these, which the children found highly amusing from the pictures I showed. We then put all the movement together to create a whole dance. The children were brilliant, so enthusiastic and it was great to be involved with these classes.

 

Balfour Infants School

Katie: Handa’s Surprise takes you on a delicious and mischievous journey to Kenya, full of colourful fruit and naughty animals! We had fun pretending to be each animal, and the children remembered all of the animals from the book and had some brilliant movements. It was like we were on a real safari! The children enjoyed pretending to be specific animals when they went on a parade wearing different animal masks. With a beanbag on their heads, the children walked to their friends without dropping the beanbag, as they imagined how Handa would carry her basket full of fruit to her friend in Kenya. We learnt some tribal dancing and then made up our own dance to tell the story of all the animals taking the fruit from Handa’s basket. We enjoyed imagining that we had stolen our own favourite fruit at the end! Year R had more energy than all of the animals in the animal kingdom and were an absolute joy to work with!

 

Becca: I took some photos of my classes with Year 1 and 2.

 

St Mary’s Primary

Georgie: I’ve been to St Mary’s Primary a few times now and I couldn’t wait to return this year. It was especially nice as there were 3 TRS teachers going, Steph, Becca and I. Which meant we really got to work together to come up with ideas for the children across years R-6. The theme we were given was space, which is a theme I’ve done before and thoroughly enjoyed so I was looking forward to teaching this subject again.  I taught year 2 first, we used different shapes to for our warm up, big planets, small planets, rockets, shooting starts all while exploring and walking through space. We then created a giant rocket shape using everyone in the class! The children then chose an alien to recreate in their groups, firstly by looking at what they looked like and then copy to create their starting pose. After that they looked at ways their alien could move to create a short phrase with their groups. The children were extremely imaginative with this and really enjoyed it! We then cooled down by travelling back down to earth. The second group I taught was year 5 and we started off with an astronaut narrative, we put on our space suits, went up in the rocket and flew around space before landing. I then gave half the group a paper plate with the planet written on it. They then had to quickly get themselves into the right order from the sun, and start circling around to make the solar system. Once they had started the other half then traveled through space exploring the planets. They then switched over so they could experience both sides. We then looked at constellations and stars. I gave the groups some time to recreate some well known ones, then set them on the task of creating some of their own. They used letters, levels, different body parts, all sorts of ideas to create some really unique looking constellations as a class. Finally we cooled down by using some of the shapes and ideas from both the solar system and the constellations. 5 leaders chose their favourite shape to do in super slow motion. It was a lovely session and the children were so enthusiastic which was great!

 

Steph: I went along to St Mary’s Primary for Book Week 2019. This years theme was Space. In year 1’s classes we took our first steps in space, using the fact that there is no gravity in space so we took very slow large steps around the room. We then discovered Alien’s. Like the very hungry caterpillar the alien’s loved to eat everything in sight too!

In year 4 we stretched into out astronaut suits and checked that they were safe for space and how we would move in the space suits. We looked out of our rocket windows to see what we could find in space, planets, aliens, the moon! We landed on the moon to explore moon dust about how it feels and how we could make the moon dust dance in our hands. We then spotted the different planets and made the shapes of the planets. We orbited around the sun by rolling, turning and spinning! Year 4 then created their own planets in groups deciding whether they were slow or fast planets. From there we also looked at star constellations and recreated a few, and then made our own! The participants used their bodies to connect their stars and they also came up with a name for each one.

For year 5 I made an envelope for each planet and each one contained short facts about the planet. Year 5 then got into groups and using the facts the explored the planets through movement. We discovered that every planet is unique and that meant that each of the dances were just as unique too!

It was a fantastic few days, both myself and the participants thoroughly enjoyed it!

 

 

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2018 Roundup

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We have been busy bees in the office in the run up to Christmas. As well as celebrations taking place, we’ve had newsletters and Christmas cards to design, print and send. We’re feeling very Christmassy already and can’t wait for Christmas jumper day on Monday (look out for the photos!)

Our newsletter has been going out in all of our classes recently and is also found in the many Christmas cards that Becca and I sent on Monday. We hope everyone who has had the chance has enjoyed reading it, but I’m sure there are others out there who don’t have one so… we have included a copy below for everyone can have a read. Enjoy! Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

 

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A Year in The Life

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Steph, Level Three TRS Teacher, Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator and Educating Dance Teacher (what a mouthful, she’s reached the highest levels possible at TRS!) was voted TRS Teacher of the year 2017 by TRS staff in November last year. As we are coming up to this year’s vote I asked her to write about her year and I’m pleased to say it’s really varied and has been very exciting!

This is how young dancers in Steph’s classes put their hand up to talk… in any funky position!

A Year in The Life of Steph…

One of my favourite things about my work with The Right Step Dance Company is the variety it brings each day. The past year has been no exception to this. Teaching all over Kent and Medway, I’ve covered thousands of miles, planned hundreds of classes and had a wonderful time sharing my love of dance and movement with hundreds of class participants for another year. 

Flicking through my diary, I’ve been reminded of some of the new schools and care homes I’ve visited this year amongst my regular classes. I’ve been teaching for The Right Step Dance Company for over 5 years, and whilst there are new classes and ‘one off’ sessions happening all the time, I have some brilliant regular classes too.  One of my longest running classes is the Friday afternoon Dance Club at Byron Primary School. I wrote a blog post (read it HERE) about their Dance club earlier in the year after their fantastic Summer Term. Often we get to see the development and enjoyment children have in their dance classes, but there isn’t always a show or opportunity to share the brilliant work the children have achieved. To overcome this, we decided to film the last class of term so they could share their achievements and experiences. I was so pleased to have been able to put this video together for the Dance Club participants at Byron Primary.

Another filming day, and definite highlight of my year, would have to be the BBC Filming Day at Hale Place Care Home. We were honoured and utterly thrilled to have been asked to be part of the filming as one of the home’s favourite activities. We continually see the positive impacts of Active Armchairs, but when others can really see and feel the benefits of the classes too and wave the Active Armchairs flag of joy it’s a brilliant feeling! Myself and Rebecca had a wonderful morning with the residents and carers, and I think its fair to say we both left that morning with big smiles on our faces!  Hale Place was a relatively new class for me at the time, and has now become one of my regular weekly classes. I have loved getting to know the residents even better over the past year, and look forward to another year of dancing and singing with everyone.

There have been great team moments throughout the year too, with our twice yearly All Hands Meetings and training sessions. We usually find ourselves teaching alone, so having the opportunity to meet with others teachers on the team at All Hands meetings means we can share experiences and advice. It’s also just a lovely opportunity to have a good catch up over a cup of tea and some biscuits!  We often have training within these meetings, and in our most recent one we had a session with confidence coach Andrea Barker.  The session was not only a great team bonding experience, but also enabled us to take strategies away to implement into our practice.  Catch us striking our power pose below!

I really enjoy the opportunity to work with other TRS teachers, and as a Level 3 TRS Teacher, I had the opportunity to mentor one of our newer teachers to the team this year.  When teachers join me in my classes for training, I love to share experiences and tips so it’s been great to be able to focus this into a mentoring process.  I know myself I find it very beneficial to be observed, and to share teaching practices with other teachers, so combing this with my experiences as a freelancer made for a great first mentoring experience.

As I reflect upon the year, It’s very hard to pin point a few favourite moments, as in all honesty every day and every class brings something magic. I mentioned the notion of ‘Magic Moments’ and how we capture them in classes in an All Hands meeting a few years ago and it has since become a wonderful way to share these little snippets of joy with everyone.  There are plenty of Magic Moment quotes to be found on TRS social media; Whether it’s a comment about the participants class experience, a child that expresses their enjoyment and pride at learning a new dance step, the older adult that taps along to the music for the first time or feedback from a teacher/carer about how a participants response is a breakthrough….we are so lucky to be a part of so much magical! Here are two of my most recent Magic Moments. 

“Year 5 at Singlewell Primary School have been learning Bhangra Dance this term and will be showing some of their moves in their assembly this week. They were looking fantastic in their dance class earlier in the week and we can’t wait to hear how it went!”
Steph

“Singing in the rain is my tune of the day today!! We had a great sing along at Fort Horsted and reminisced about the great Gene Kelly and his wonderful dancing in the rain and swinging around the lamppost!”
Steph

As the final school term of the year approaches, and I begin to think about Christmas classes and plans for the new terms in 2019 (!) I find myself feeling very grateful for having another great year of classes and experiences with the Company.  This year especially seems to have flown by…but maybe that’s because I’ve just been having too much fun dancing!

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Partnership

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Written by Georgie Tedora, owner of The Right Step, South Kent, TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator.

For the past 2 weeks we have been celebrating the Age of Creativity Festival. We know what this is, but perhaps you don’t? To give you a better idea here’s what Age UK said:

“The Age of Creativity provides leadership, profile, advocacy and infrastructure development for everyone who believes in the value of creativity for older people. Established in 2012 with funding from the Baring Foundation, the project aims to support professionals working in arts, health, culture, social care, academia, voluntary and community sectors to enable more older people to take part creative activities and enjoy improved health, wellbeing and quality of life.”

This year’s festival theme is partnership, TRS already do so much involving this, but we thought we’d go even further in celebration of the festival! More about what we did during the festival later. 

So, let’s start off with the basics….

What is partnership? To different people this can mean different things. It could be a spouse, it could be business partner, or even your ‘partner in crime’. To us partnership is one of the key aspects of The Right Step Dance Company. Just by going through some testimonials from participants, teachers and observers I have picked out so many words which all relate to partnership:

The Right Step Dance Company states in it’s executive summary that TRS “links companies, dance artists and participants, taking on administration and building relationships with those who love dance.” We are always looking to create new partnerships within our company. Creating these links allows this to happen. This has even passed onto our TRS teachers. When asked what partnership means to them here’s what some had to say:

“Working, thinking and creating together” – Georgia

“Partnership is working and communicating with one another or others in the community. This could be local, global or international.” – Becca G

“Working together to create opportunities together. Partnership is key in all aspects of life!” Georgie

Like I said, TRS use partnership on a daily basis, ever since the start. Here are some blasts from the Past that give some great examples of partnership in action!

Hale Place Care Solutions, Active Armchairs with Steph on BBC Filiming day

Age UK Folkestone, Active Armchairs with Alice on the very first day of classes for The Right Step South Kent

Montgomery Court, Social Dance with Georgie, John and Doff enjoying themselves

And here’s another great example of encouraging partnership within our classes:

“My favourite story is one you’ve all heard before… when a participant joined the circle at Valley View because I used the giant elastic. It was the first time she left her table to join the circle for me!” Rebecca Ashton, Company Director talking to TRS Teachers

TRS have always been able to understand the importance of partners within our Active Armchairs classes, avoiding the social isolation that can sadly occur for older adults. This is why we encourage all participants to join in our sessions, and for those who would prefer one-to-one within their own space, we offer that too. One to one still involves the contact and social aspects just on a smaller scale. Partnerships can be and are created anywhere and everywhere. Which is where the next part of the blog comes in…

For the past two weeks the TRS Teachers have been focusing on the theme of Partnership, and it’s even spread onto our schools classes too:

With partnership in mind, I’ve been tying my scarves together in Active Armchairs this week. It unites the group as we shake and wiggle and makes a for a great game of tug of war! Steph

“At Durland House we I asked the participants what partnership meant to them, and almost at the same time they all said ‘togetherness!’ We then had a fun game of the egg and spoon, encouraging team work, balance and focus. They were so good I thought I’d make it a little harder by using plastic balls too!’’ Georgie

“I am working on partnership with my reception class this week. They are very young and new to a dance class environment so I thought something simple like mirroring our partners movements and traveling across the space together in different ways would be a good idea to get them comfortable in the space and with each other.” Georgia at Burham Primary School

“At Hoo Primary we discussed partnership and what the word meant to the children. We also explored how people would work in partnership in a Circus (as that’s this terms theme). The two keywords that came up were Trust and Team Work. So we experimented with ways to use these two themes with the circus in mind and had lots of supportive movements and balances on the tight rope! We also had some very funny clowns who were working well as a team to make sure that no one dropped their imaginary juggling balls! We’ve added these into our Greatest Showman Dance” Steph

“We often finish a session with a mini meditation as part of our cool down to help centre ourselves and calm down from all of the excitement of dance so we can go home calmly and safely. Yesterday we did it holding hands to help calm each other. Wrotham Road” Alice

“Our theme at Hoo this term has been superheroes! We have been working in partners and the children had to pick a superhero each and create movements that fit the superheroes character. We then joined 2 partners up with each other to create longer dances and bigger teams together!” Becca G

“At Mereworth we have been doing street dance this term. We end the sessions with a team huddle up and shout ‘’Street Crew!’’ We have also worked on some secret handshakes (which aren’t so secret) to coincide with the partnership them which turned out so good that we added them onto our routine!” Georgie

Age of creativity festival has really allowed us to explore and expand our partnerships even further. We are looking forward to next year’s festival to see what that theme brings to our team!

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Dance in The Dockyard

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Dancing in The Dockyard was a fantastic event from the way the diverse programme came together to the fact we were tremendously lucky with the weather on the day and I’m very pleased that Luci from the Arts Development Team, Medway Council asked us to be involved with it and would like to say thank you for funding and supporting yet another great Medway dance event!

IMG_1099My favourite part of Dancing in the Dockyard is that so many people who don’t usually see dance were part of the audience and that they enjoyed it!! We aimed for a varied programme and the groups of Medway provided it. Medway Dance Network helped this along in the early stages of planning and it seemed to come together almost organically. For the, mostly unsuspecting, audience this meant something for everyone. Although I didn’t get to see all of the performances as I was rushing about, I’ve only heard good things and this is testament to the performers. Once again, well done Medway!

My least favourite part of the event is that it’s truely a one off, although this is quite exciting too! As The Historic Dockyard is celebrating their 400th birthday this year we certainly won’t be able to join the celebration of something so exciting again (unless we wait another hundred years perhaps!), but this helped to make the event special. I wish them luck with the rest of their celebrations and I’d like to share that, if you would like to find out what they’re up to this year, you can use the hashtag, #400moments to do so!

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I’d also like to mention the team behind it all. We did have a lovely day, but it was a busy one and the team worked very hard! The hard work began before the event, of course. Luci was on top of things every step of the way, Clare, our social media guru, was joined by Georgie, Hayley supported me and Georgia helped hold everything together on the day. In amongst all this we also had workshops led by Georgia and Georgie, but due to the sheer size of the audience, we all supported them so that more people could participate.

The TRS members of the team have written their own accounts of the event to give you a bit more of an insight. Enjoy!

 

Clare
As the Social Media organiser for the event, my work started well ahead of the day, although not quite as early as all the wonderful choreographers creating their fantastic snippets of dance.

Early doors, I was working on building an audience for our event and thanks to the brilliant Georgie at the Right Step Dance Company, I had help along the way. In return for giving her a little more insight into the wonderful worldwide web of Social Media, she gave her time to assist me with the creation of our audience both on and off-line. In any event like this, we have to bear in mind that we want to see real live people there on the day, as well as, through the magic of the internet, bringing the performance to those unable to attend. We also have the chance afterwards to remind people of the fabulous day they enjoyed through our sharing of a gallery and some video clips taken at the time.

IMG_1148In the weeks ahead of Dance in the Dockyard, we scoured the internet for inspiring dance oriented articles, some of which had an aquatic theme, as well as creating our own count down to the event. We were also able to introduce our audience to the performers ahead of the production.

On the day, we had the best job of all, to document and share the performances with our wider audience. So we got to see everything, in detail, several times over, what a luxury.

Well I think our work went well, as there were so many people from all walks of life there in the audience, we had children and adults participating with enthusiasm as well as scores of people sitting in the audience watching. We had dancers of all abilities and people of all capabilities too, which was wonderful to think that we were able to open dance up to everyone who attended. I particularly loved the lady with her own collection of toy meerkats who joined in with pretty much every single number and workshop.

I think we need to shout a big thank you out to our sound team, as the music could be heard across the festival, drawing people towards the music and dance that was occurring.

IMG_1102The highlight of my day had to be watching all the participants getting so engrossed with the many dance workshops that were put on that day. I loved the fact that the workshops were all nautically themed, which was so in keeping with our historic location. And I learned something, albeit something sombre… The Daisy Farris Dance Collective performed their “Great Thames Disaster”, opening my eyes to this really tragic event that happened on our capital’s river, cutting short the lives of so many, so unexpectedly.

On a lighter note, I learned something else too… how to use Facebook live video. And it was really popular! People unable to attend were able to be a part of our event live through the powers of Facebook. What a brilliant innovation.

When the day was wound up, I also really liked the fact that one of our most popular social media posts was our team selfie. Here’s to the team.

Georgia
It is always helpful for my development to be part of these events as they are always inspiring and enjoyable, and always present learning opportunities for me. These are public events so you never know how they are going to go or what challenges you will face as a team so it is always good to have the experience of being part of the planning. Effective planning can always reduce risks and can give possible solutions to problems that may come up. As with all of these kinds of events that I have attended, this was an amazing event organised by a great team in Medway Arts Team and The Right Step Dance Company and any eventuality was planned for.

IMG_1107There was such a great buzz around the whole event and the performances had lots of audience members watching and commenting on them. I was concerned the event may not capture a big audience due to having to register but the Dockyard did a great job in making the registration free and easy to do and did a great job in marketing the event and we had a great footfall.

I spoke to a family that loved the workshops and hadn’t been to an event like this before and wanted to find out about the classes available. I personally think this is a great success for the companies and dance schools there but also for the promotion of health and wellbeing in Medway.

I had a conversation with a teenage boy that came up to me and ask what kind of dance style it was when Loop were performing. This gave me the opportunity to talk to him about contemporary dance and the ideas behind Ports That Pass. We spoke about possible dance schools that offer this style.

I really liked how inclusive this event was and many people with mixed disabilities joined in the workshops.

Watching people have the chance to network with each other for collaboration opportunities and to promote their companies and dance schools to the public was really great to see.

IMG_1134I really enjoyed delivering the workshop based on boats and the dockyard and was thrilled at the amount of people that were joining in. We had 30-40 people including children, adults, families, people with mixed disabilities and abilities, carers and people from different cultural backgrounds joining in and this really made the event for me. I loved seeing all performances and the range of dance styles and age groups really showcased what Medway can do and what we have to offer! Dancing on the Pier, Dancing in the Dockyard… I can’t wait to see where we will be dancing next time!

Hayley
Dancing in the Dockyard was an absolute pleasure to be a part of. I volunteered my time to help organise the event by attending meetings and collating information via email. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to get involved and see what goes on behind the scenes. I have always been a performer in events like this, meaning I had no idea about the hard work it involves creating such a successful event. This is why I jumped at the chance to have the opportunity to be a part of it. I was able to have firsthand experience on the day dealing with performers, participants, audience members, technicians and Chatham Dockyard coordinators. I was able to talk to the general public and explain what we had to offer on the day, encouraging them to have a look and take part (particularly little ones). I was thrilled to hear how enthusiastic the majority of people were when approached. I heard many lovely comments and received lots of positive feedback through the questionnaires.

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I had people wait to talk to me and receive a leaflet about Dancing in the Dockyard, a young lady and father explaining how she loved to dance and also she is good at it because she practices at school and with her friends. I also had some young boys show me that they can floss when I spoke to them about the event. Later in the day they appeared again and joined in with Georgia’s creative dance. I had an elderly couple approach me asking about what was happening which I explained, they were thrilled to hear and asked for front row seats. I believe they sat through the majority of the first half of performances.

It was brilliant to see how smoothly the day went, particularly when we had the situation with GDPR consent forms. I was overwhelmed at how understanding people were when I explained the importance of the form; many came looking for me to sign the form once Luci explained over the speaker. That worked really well in the end, I think to improve that particular situation in the future we should have a particular spot. This way the parents can come straight to us, rather than we hunt around in the crowd for them. Overall I had a wonderful experience and a great day and the pleasure to work with such a lovely team.

Thank you so for having me!!

Georgie
Wow! What a fantastic event. I was really excited in the build up to dance at the dockyard, being in the office and speaking to Clare about social media posts meant I got a sneak preview of what was going to happen. I could see we had a lovely variety of performers, plus workshops too. I thought I was quite prepared for the event, as I had been to a couple of them before… But I definitely was not IMG_1150prepared for the turn out we had! The crowd was huge, I ended up doing the biggest active armchairs session on record which was amazing! I felt such a buzz from the crowd. even though half of the children were too young to know the songs, they were still really enjoying it. All of the companies involved were so talented and to have such a variety was really great.

I must admit I did have one of the best jobs, taking the photos for social media meant I got a front row seat! I was so excited, I got a little trigger happy with my camera and took over 500 photos! The support from everyone involved, the team and of course the audience really made the event one I will remember!

You can definitely sign me up for next time!

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Magic Moments!

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We recently held our All Hands Meeting, a chance for the TRS Teachers to get together, talk about the company and the direction it’s taking. As part of the meeting, the TRS Teachers shared the best things that have happened to them this year. We’ve been gradually sharing them on Facebook for the past month, but thought you might like to read them in one go.

 

I had a magic moment today at Gillingham Age UK. It was only brief and fleeting, but magic all the same.
I don’t know if this lady is there other days, but on one of the middle tables near the window there is usually sat a lady who sits and doesn’t appear to join the exercises as much. Well, on this particular day, during a Doris Day song… I caught her eye, and actually caught her singing along to the song!!! She didn’t join in with any other songs, nor did she dance, but to see just a little twinkle in her eye and joining in just a tiny bit was fantastic. Sadly she did then return to her word search when the next song started. But I am definitely going to use “Whatever Will be Will Be” again.
Clare

 

One of the children I teach at Wrotham Road Primary has been struggling to skip for some time, but the other week he finally learnt how to! I was so proud! We started with hopping and turned it into skipping.
Alice

 

At Warren wood where I teach street dance, the girls in the class come in saying ‘’I’ve practiced the dance!’’ It’s so sweet to hear!
Katie

 

In Active Armchairs I have recently been using a tambourine. I tap a rhythm and the participants clap it back to me. They then all get a turn! It works really well, and they really like it!
Alix

 

At Lulworth House there is a lady who always joins in active armchairs and is usually really enthusiastic. One week, however, she wasn’t feeling herself sadly. So I wondered what I could do to get her more engaged. As the lady is from Spain, I decided to put some Ricky Martin on and she loved it!
Clare

 

At World Book Week this year I was at St Mary’s Primary School. With one class my theme was ‘space’. I asked the children to become planets and create their own solar system with movements. For example I used words like orbit for turns. It was fantastic. They were so involved and imaginative. It was really lovely to see all of the boys and girls working together!
Becca T

 

At Hoo Primary School recently I had a really good day there! I was so impressed to see as I walked into the school the girls were there ready and practising their dance. It was lovely to see how excited they were!
Steph

 

Active Armchairs amazes me everytime. Even when it’s a harder session, you just see them move the slightest bit and it’s just beautiful to see them come alive with the music and movments.
Steph

 

At Byron Primary School, I have been doing a carnival theme. I use feather props and everyone takes turns in being the leader. However, usually there is one girl who is a bit too shy to be a leader, but she still joins in and follows. Well, last week I couldn’t believe it, she was so excited and enthusiastic to be the leader of the group! It was so lovely to see, and her mother was asking how she had been, and she was surprised to see her confidence grow too!
Becca G

 

I went along to watch Steph’s active armchairs class at Mayflower Care Home. There was a lady there, and all of I sudden I noticed her standing up. She was dancing and boogieing all the way over to the window. Then she danced with all the other participants on her way back to her seat!
Hayley

 

The other week I was covering a class for Steph at Abbotsleigh Care Home. Then the care worker asked me if we could do the ‘Cha Cha Slide’. I was a bit surprised to be asked this! And in honesty I never would have thought to do that song in Active Armchairs, but I gave it a go, and it was fantastic. The residents really loved the beat and all of the care workers came in and did the dance for them. It was lovely to see everyone smiling and having fun altogether!
Georgie

 

I go to Valley View on a regular basis and so I have made some lovely relationships with the residents there. One lady, sadly has quite a bad memory but this never stops her joining in. And what I love most, is that she remembers every single song I play and sings along to them all! Most of which bring back lots of lovely memories for her!
Georgie

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A Week in the Life

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Georgie is our current TRS Teacher of the Year. The TRS Teachers voted for her in 2016 and her year since has seen her continue the fantastic work that made her win. As the year draws to a close and the TRS Teachers have voted for the 2017 winner, I thought it would be nice to hear about what Georgie gets up to on a weekly basis.

A week in the life of a TRS Teacher!
By Georgie Tedora, Level Two TRS Teacher and Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator

It was going to start off as a day in the life, then two days. But I have had so many great events this week I thought I’d share them all with you!

Monday:
So, recently I have been asked to join the office team as Company Assistant. Which I was thrilled about. It’s really nice to get to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of The Right Step. I am learning so much each week which is fantastic and Rebecca has now given me more things to do with social media so that’s my next challenge to tackle and I am really enjoying it so far! Whoever said office work is boring, clearly didn’t have a team like ours!

Tuesday:
Today was another busy day for me! I had two Active Armchair classes and one youth group class. The first was at Gillingham Age UK. I really enjoy these classes as they all really get involved and love to have a good sing along! The next was Ashley Gardens, and this month was the one to one sessions. These sessions are particularly rewarding I find not only for the participant but for me as well. You get to really connect with the participant and it’s just lovely to see them smile and move to the music. Lastly, I was teaching Cheerleading in Bexley. This was a one-off class but they were fantastic. They all got so involved and were a really good group! They even said they would love to have another class!

Wednesday:
Another two Active Armchair classes today. I went to Byron Lodge firstly, to cover Steph. I like going along to these classes as there aren’t always that many participants, they always recognise me and are happy to see me which is a great feeling. One lady and I are both huge animal lovers, and she is always telling me new places to go and see some local wildlife which is lovely! The next was a class at a local lunch club, All Saints. They have a class every few months or so. I find this class is normally slow starting, but once one person gets going they are all up and dancing and singing along! This time I did the hand jive in one of my dances and a lady showed me another version which I had never seen before! It was really good, and she done it so quickly I was mesmerised by it! I’m hoping to make a video of the hand jive so keep an eye out on YouTube.

Thursday:
I was very excited about today as I had a new class to go to and do a taster for! It was at Hazelwood Care Home. I am always a bit nervous when going to somewhere new, as I never know what to expect, but straight away this home was so welcoming and the particapnts were so excited before I had even arrived! They gave me such a warm welcome that I felt so comfortable and couldn’t wait to get started! The session went really well! In particular, there was a married couple seated next to one another, and they kept dancing to the music together. It was beautiful. I then went onto my social dance class at Montgomery. I have built up such a good relationship with this group, that it really does not feel like work at all! More like seeing my friends! They are always such a pleasure and now they feel relaxed enough to ask me certain things in particular that they want to work on, such as their legs which is so nice that they feel this way. Lastly, I was covering Georgia at her class at Burham Primary. This was with the younger students at the school. I was so impressed at how good they were. Both behaviour and their dancing! With a little bit of team work they had remembered the dance Georgia had taught them, and were so excited to show me. I then gave them a creative task in pairs and they came up with some fantastic ideas!

Friday:
Today was my quietest day for The Right Step this week. I had one active armchairs class. This is another on of my regulars at Valley View. I admit, I tend to get to this home quite early as I love to sit and have a little chat with the residents before class. They are always telling me about their shopping trips that week, and who won bingo! Again, it’s that lovely feeling of being so welcome and having a nice relationship built with the residents. The class itself can sometimes start off a little slow, but they are all really good at encouraging one another, so before you know it they are all dancing and singing along!

Saturday:
You think it’s all over… not yet! Today was the Santa Fun Run! Rebecca had asked me a few weeks ago if I would like to be the TRS Teacher that warms up the santa’s before the run this year and I was very happy to be asked! I must admit, just before I was getting a little nervous as I didn’t realise quite how many Santa’s there would be! It was a brilliant turn out! Despite having some horrible rainy weather, that didn’t stop anyone! All of those nerves went away as soon as the music came on. It felt amazing to see everyone dancing and singing along, and even more so as they were all dressed as Santa’s. I could see Rebecca and Clare from TRS dancing in the crowd. And it was so nice that our youngest member of TRS (Gaia) came along to support too! I had the best time warming up the Santa’s and I can’t wait to go along again next year!

Here’s a link to my blog post about The Santa Fun Run… http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/2017/12/04/santa-fun-run-2017

Sunday:
Annnnnnnnnd RELAX…

 

 

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Santa Fun Run 2017

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By Georgie

Each year a member of The Right Step Dance Company warms up the Santa’s for their Fun Run and this year it was my turn!

I was extremely excited (and nervous) to do the warm up this year! I had seen various blogs, photos and videos from previous years and I loved seeing all the whole community come together for such a great event and cause.

When I arrived all, I could see where Santa’s of all shapes and sizes, some even included 4 legged Santa’s too! I then met Rebecca, Lawrence, Gaia (the youngest member of The Right Step, who came fully prepared in her uniform and Santa hat!) and our friend and photographer Nikki came along to support too.

Despite having some horrible rainy weather everyone was in such a happy mood. The DJ was playing some lively music and people were already up and dancing along. It was quite surreal seeing so many Santa’s in one place! The nerves had definitely started to kick in!

Then the DJ announced it was time for me to go on stage and warm up the lovely Santa’s! So up I went. The music started playing, and all the nerves disappeared! I began with ‘Moves like Jagger’ by Maroon 5 and I got them to sing ‘Moves like SANTA’ instead! Which went extremely well! Then as I looked out into to the crowd I saw a familiar face and I saw TRS Teacher, Clare, dancing along which was lovely to see her come along and support to!

20171118_134733We then went onto ‘Living on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi. This was fantastic, seeing them throw their arms in the air for the chorus and I must say I was very impressed with their air guitars and drums!

Finally I finished off with a classic party dance… the Cha Cha Slide! Everyone got so involved and we had some lovely cha cha’s going on.

So afterwards they were ready and eager to go! Lead by the marching band they all set off through the town ready to start the race. We followed along and cheered the Santa’s as they all went past! Rebecca stayed and got some great photo’s and videos of the finish of the race!

I had an amazing time at the Santa Fun Run 2017, so thank you for having me and huge congratulations to the Rotary Club of Medway and to all the Santa’s for putting on such a fantastic event and raising money for a great cause!

 

Here’s the video!

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Book and Art Week

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St Mary’s Primary School invited us in to lead dance classes for every year group for the third year running. The school celebrates Book and Art Week with exciting workshops and unusual classes. Steph and Georgie went along to deliver a varied and extensive timetable of dance!

Written by Georgie, Level Two TRS Teacher, Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator and Educating Dance Teacher

Wow! What a week I’ve had with St Mary’s Primary school and their Book and Arts Week! When  I saw the subjects I would be teaching I was so excited!
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Firstly I taught year 1 – Aliens and Space. What a great subject! We created our own rocket and flew into space. We explored space and had some great slow motion spacewalks. Then we spotted the aliens! After teaching the short phrase, they went onto group work where I handed them a picture of a different alien each which they had to create a starting position that looked like the alien. The children did this so well! Without even looking at the pictures I could tell who was who. They then created movements like their aliens. When we showed these at the end I was so impressed with what they had done and how much they had learnt and choreographed in that time. What a way to start my week.
Next was Year 4 and Gumboot dancing. I could not wait for this! As the classes came in, the teachers told me that they were very good at dancing and loved it. They were right! I started off with an ‘echo’ game where we would walk around the space and when I stomped the class had to echo back the rhythm I had done. Then I chose some of them to do a rhythm too, and some were very hard! After this, I taught them 3 gumboot phrases and then they had to create their own. We had such variety with these, they used different levels, cannon and formations! They had all practiced them to perfection which sounded and looked great!  The last part, I handed each group a set of gumboot steps to follow. But they weren’t allowed to show other groups. At the end they performed these too. I was quite cheeky and played a little trick on them. All the cards said the same thing! It was really good seeing how each group interpreted the steps!
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Then I had Reception class – Seasons and Weather. We started off with the 4 corners game and in each corner was a season, each having their own different action to help the children remember what season was what. I then taught them a phrase, using the different seasons and the different weather in each season e.g. snow in winter, sun/hot in summer. After they got into groups and decided on a season then created some movements for it. These were really good, we had sitting by the fire in winter and swimming in the summer! Lastly in groups I handed out some cards and we played pairs – what weather goes with what season. Most of them did this perfectly! I was really impressed!
Year 6 Street Dance was next. They learnt so much! I started off with body popping, which is quite hard in itself and they really grasped it. Then I taught them tutting, some top rock and finally a bit of break dance / floor work. They were very happy when I played the music (Ed Sheeran –  Shape of You) I heard a lot of whispered ‘yes’s’ when the song came on! And we put all of these styles of street together to make a routine. They looked great! Giving me some serious attitude and really understanding the different stylistic qualities of each part. They then added on their own routine in groups, and my they were a talented bunch! Each group was so good that I really wanted them to share with one another, so they ended up teaching each other their routines! Such a fantastic group to work with.
Lastly I taught Year 5 – Astronauts and Planets. As the year 1 went so well I decided to use some of these ideas in this one. We started of with a bit of friendly competition and they chose Girls vs Boys. They all wrote down each planet including the Sun on paper plates. I then took each set and really shuffled them up. They then had to put them in certain orders, and the team to get it write and put it in the correct order one the point! The first order was closest to furthest away from the sun, the boys did this in around 15 seconds! The next order was in order of size. The girls one this time which created a tie break situation. Lastly they had to group them into terrestrial planets and gas planets. Anddddddddd *drum roll please* the girls won! It was very close though. After I taught them a short phrase about exploring space, and again we started off in our own rocket position which they created and it looked so good! They then got into groups, chose a planet and had to create a short dance about that planet. Each group came up with such good ideas for their planet and they really went into detail. Year 5 knew so much about space they even taught me a thing or two!
I really enjoyed my time at St Mary’s Primary School, it was so lovely to see how all the children really wanted to get involved and I had so many thank you’s which was lovely to receive. I really hope I can go there again!
Steph taught Country Dancing and Space whilst at St Mary’s. Here’s some feedback about the classes.

“I really enjoyed that, I felt like I was in space!” Year 5 Pupil, St.Mary’s Primary School, March 2017

“The group work really challenged the students, they had some wonderfully creative ideas. I have 5 minutes of film to play back to them” Year 5 Teacher, St.Mary’s Primary School, March 2017

“That was fantastic, it took me back to my school days! We’ll try to remember it so we can keep doing the dance in PE. Thank you” TA about Country Dancing, St.Mary’s Primary School, March 2017

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