Categotry Archives: Office News
Collated and written by Georgie
This month’s theme for TRS was ‘Loving Dance’ and we thought we’d ask the TRS teachers why they love dance, who inspired them and who continues to do so.
TRS Director Rebecca Ashton:
“3 people stand out as having a huge effect on my career.
My 1st dance teacher, Debbie, is probably the reason I love dance so much. I clearly remember that she taught me friendship between dancers, we can work with other dance schools and didn’t have to be competitive. This sounds very much like how we work as a team of dance artists at TRS.
Another dance teacher at Collectivedance SchoolCollege, Sue, is completely the reason I went to university. She took me to Surrey uni in year 9 and I never looked back. From Sue I learnt that there are lots of different types of dance career, something that influences the way I work with dance teachers now. I also learnt how to dance on Pointe to Meatloaf and how to stand like a Flamingo with my leg by my head, but they’re different stories.
Finally Rachel Deadman, from thedancemovement.co.uk inspired me after Uni. She supported me into work and made me believe in a world of happiness for dance teachers.
Without these 3 ladies I wouldn’t be where I am now. I love them for the inspiration, opportunity and confidence they gave me, and I hope that at least some of the things they do can be seen in my work too.”
Georgie, South Kent Franchise Owner, Level 3 TRS Teacher:
“I have always wanted to dance ever since I was little, that’s obvious to anyone who knows me, but keeping up with dance and being inspired to teach, that’s where I need to thank a lot of people.
When I was younger, for over 10 years I attended Prima Stage school, where so many teachers really boosted my love for dance and especially contemporary. Thanks to those teachers I then went onto college where I met Marie Forbes who made me really believe in myself and that I could make a career out of dance. She had so much passion and really knew how to inspire all those in her class and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.
I then went onto do the DASP with Loop Dance Company where I met Nina Atkinson and Georgia Smith, both of whom showed me the world of community dance. Again, two people who really inspired and pushed me into where I am today. One lesson I learnt which I use almost every day now is to throw myself into anything and you will either sink or swim, but at least this way you can succeed or learn how to.
Which brings me onto my next inspiration, Rebecca Ashton (Director of TRS). As soon as I heard about the work Rebecca did, I knew I wanted to join the company. I especially loved the idea of ‘Active Armchairs’ as this was something very close and personal to me. I have now worked for TRS for 5 years and every year I am growing more and more as a practitioner, being challenged and inspired by people who really believe in dance but also in me. I would not be where I am today without any of these people and I truly hope they know how grateful I am.”
Georgia, Adult Dance Coordinator and Level 2 TRS Teacher:
“The people that first inspired me were my teachers in secondary school because they opened up the possibilities of careers in dance and took me to some inspirational places and let me experience the impact dance can have. Without them I wouldn’t have applied to university. During university, I meet Nina Atkinson from Loop Dance Company and she introduced me to a world of endless possibilities, and this inspired me to always dream big and to always strive to inspire others. After my time at university, Loop opened doors to other companies, and they continue to inspire and support my ideas. My network of people is what inspire me and to them I will be forever grateful.”
Becca G, Schools Dance Coordinator and Level 2 TRS Teacher:
“Being a dancer from the age of 3 and having so many opportunities pop up from this has inspired and developed me into who I am today. My first inspiration and thanks go to my first dance teacher
Lesley Munn. From a young age she could see something in me and from the age of 4 I was competing on stage. Miss Dorban is another inspiration of mine as despite her age she created/ choreographed/ envisioned/ taught my beautiful solo’s, duets and trios to compete. My love for performing on stage came from that and grew when I joined stage theatre society. I performed in a lot of musicals till sadly I was too old to continue in the shows but now I am very lucky to be able to choreograph for STS. From choreographing assisting and teaching for both Munn academy and STS I wanted to go to Uni to further my training. From Uni I was very lucky to find TRS. It was almost like fate as a friend already taught for TRS so without knowing I already had many links. So, I would like to thank all at Munn, STS and Rebecca from TRS for where I am today. Without them I would not be able to do what I love every day.”
Steph, Level 3 TRS Teacher:
“I am fortunate to have been inspired by many dance teachers, dance friends and visiting professionals during my training. Now, I would say most of my inspiration comes from the participants in my classes and those I dance with. Seeing someone in my class enjoy themselves is so incredibly rewarding and most definitely inspires me!
I love to dance because I believe it is inherent in us. When babies learn to stand, they dance and wiggle before they walk. The human body is made to move, and all movement no matter how big or small can be classed as Dancing…that’s awesome. When you add music to mix, I think that’s a wonderful recipe for the soul!”
Alix, Level 2 TRS Teacher:
“My dance teacher at secondary school inspired me, Diane Rogers, if it wasn’t for this lady, I do not think I would have fallen in love with dance as much as I did. She inspired me in many ways, working together as a team, being positive always, and always motivating me to be better. She always had time. She’s a big part of why I teach today.
Loop Dance Company also inspired me and introduced me to community dance. When I first met Marie her passion for dance and to teach was so powerful it shone through her. However talented us dancers were, she put time in, made us all feel good and made all classes enjoyable. I then joined LoopEd youth group where I met amazing people and met the rest of LOOP that continued to inspire me and give me confidence.”
There are so many people who inspire our teachers to this day and we hope we are inspiring the people we work with as well. The network we have not only within The Right Step but surrounding is so supportive that everyone can pursue the career they want to within dance. That’s why we are ‘Loving Dance’ this month!
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!
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!
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!
This year we have had so many Magic Moments from all our classes we thought we’d share them altogether for you to see. Whether it’s a small toe tap from an older adult participant who usually struggles or a standing ovation from a performance at the end of term, TRS have so many magic moments and we love to share them!
“I just wanted to say how lovely it was at Lulworth House today. Aga (the activities coordinator) was there and encouraging everyone to join in. She had made a point of encouraging people who wanted to take part to come into the room and so many people joined in, it was fantastic. What a difference. I thanked her for being so helpful.”
“I have just done my first taster at Friston house and it was amazing!! Rebecca and I both stood back and had a moment when they were all doing “it’s raining men” with their pompoms swinging them around their head. They were all having the best time and smiles all round. I have come out feeling buzzing!”
“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!”
“I was so proud of my class at Burham last term. When it came to the performance they did so well that they even got a standing ovation from the audience!”
“I went along to St William of Perth to cover a class. They had been learning a dance with Abi and couldn’t wait to show me! I was so Impressed they managed to remember the whole thing! I gave them a huge round of applause.”
“A lady, Rose looked a little emotional at one point when we were dancing to “You are my sunshine” she said ‘My dad taught me this song… such happy memories. Thank you!”
“I played wonderful world last week at Gillingham Age UK and one lady in front of me was really expressing the words with her face. She was singing the words and doing the movements with so much emotion, closing her eyes singing and shaking her head. It was clear she must have been remembering a special moment, was lovely to watch and made me smile!”
“I just had my last class at Burham Primary School before the summer holidays and they had their performance. They went full out with make-up and costumes and the parents loved it! It was bittersweet as 6 of these as moving up to secondary school next year, so I had to get a photo!”
“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!”
“I was doing an around the world theme in my Active Armchairs classes recently. One lady is normally tired when I come in to do my sessions, but when I played ‘Tell me ma’ for my Irish Jig her feet went crazy! It looked like she was doing traditional Irish dancing, and everyone was so impressed!”
“I heard a lady talk to another lady at Gillingham Age UK, and all I heard was ” if you’re happy, you have everything” and that just made me really smile today!”
“I was at Victory Care Home on Friday. There was a lady at the back occasionally joining in. My next part was doing a bit of one to one with egg shakers and the participants. When I come around and got to her she asked me if she could stand up and dance with me. I said yes and we had a lovely dance together.”
“Last time I was at The Grove, we were talking about different dance styles that we enjoyed and perhaps did or wanted to do when we were younger. One was ballet and I mentioned about teaching and still taking lessons in ballet. This week I brought in my pointe shoes to show them all and we had a discussion about how you go on them, what age you should be before starting and where your weight is. I also gave them a cheeky little demo and they loved it and were very impressed and full of praise! Happy dancers and happy teacher (with a slightly Inflated ego).”
“When I was at Stoke on the last day of term, the school said that this was the busiest the clubs have ever been! It made me feel really proud and each term almost every child returns!”
“I was at the Gillingham Age UK dementia class and this lovely lady Marie and I ended up having a one to one dance, as she said she felt comfortable being around me and loved dancing with me! Which was lovely!”
“I heard a lady talk to another lady at Gillingham Age UK, and all I heard was ” if you’re happy, you have everything” and that just made me really smile today!”
“We had a new lady Reenie, who initially seemed very distressed and kept calling out. However, I found that all she wanted was for someone to hold her hand or engage her visually. She literally stopped every time I held her hand and seemed to relax… if I caught her eye she also stopped calling out in distress too and would try to copy whatever I was doing.”
“Hi mini magic moment today, I covered Lulworth this morning and the residents were so welcoming, one even danced with me, full jive moves! He was impressed I could keep up! Another (who had been glaring at me the whole time but still joined in) made sure I had everything before I left and was telling me to make sure I stayed safe on my way to my next care home!”
Hearing about the TRS Teachers’ Magic Moments is one of the best things about our job so I’m sure we’ll have more to share soon!
We can provide you with the things needed to make a display board about dance club. We will organise for photo consent to be obtained, take and print photos and add club details (including what they’ve been doing, logos and a leaflet etc.). We give all these things to the school to put up. This way the finished product can match the school’s current displays.
Yesterday A Better Medway held the 2018 Healthy Weight Summit and I went along with TRS Teacher and franchise owner, Georgie, to find out more.
The day opened with a speech by Councillor David Brake who talked about helping our community achieve a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and be more active. He talked about our collective wisdom and said we would be “Working together to support Medway residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and achieve a healthy weight.”
The together theme continued and the thing that has struck me most about the day is that the people there want to work in partnership, build connections and network. Why wouldn’t they, together we can do more than one individual. This ties in really well with The Right Step’s plans for the next month as we get involved with the Age of Creativity Festival. For 2018 their focus is partnership. It’s more than a co-incidence that partnership seems to be the buzz word when talking about weight as well as when discussing arts. Partnership is the way forward, with cuts taking place across the country, the only way to make things happen is to utilize the resources and skills that are already out there. The people are out there and we’re going to find them!
After Councillor Brake, Scott Elliot, Head of Health and Wellbeing Services and, in my opinion, a driving force when it comes to getting Medway healthy and active, talked about what has happened in the year since the last Healthy Weight Summit. He discussed how trends in obesity in Medway are relatively static and similar or slightly above average in comparison to the rest of the country.
The thing that shocked us most though was information found in the following graph. I took a photo of the slide so it may not be clear, but the graph suggests that 63.3% of adults are inactive in the UK. I Tweeted whilst there and found out that this includes adults up to the age of 65. Since then I have also spoken to Scott and have discovered that the drop in activity around 65 / 70 years old is huge, he compared it to a a cliff edge and commented that this has something to do with retirement. We didn’t go into further detail at the time, but this is interesting to me due to our work with older adults and older frail adults. I’m sure the Active Armchairs Facilitators would agree with me, we see the inactivity and we see why regularly. See our Twitter feed for more about this.
I hadn’t realised how many brilliant initiatives are already taking place in Medway and still, new ideas are being developed. These include the Health Walks, cycling groups and, of course, the Better Medway Champions.
The reality is, we are all part of the solution. Scott Elliot
I was especially interested in what Penny Lazell, Physical Activity Nurse Clinical Champion about health professionals delivering the message of the importance of physical activity for wellbeing. She has a long road ahead of her, but it sounds like a great initiative. Physical Activity is a large part of personal wellbeing and it’s important to get this message out in hospitals. Even the smallest movement counts and activity is different for every person, but it is still key.
James Williams, Director for Public Health also spoke. He inspired everyone to go out there and get things done and said it’s “an equalities plan, not all about obesity.” He means that we need to look at all the parts of the jigsaw puzzle that is health (another theme of the day!).
At The Right Step we are well aware of the importance of partnership, we are a team of community dance practitioners who work together to do more than any individual could. That is who we are. We also see how dance can be a bridge between arts and sport and therefore is an excellent medium for improving health and wellbeing.
We are always developing though and, moving forward, the summit has encouraged me to look deeper into the type of partnerships we make outside of The Right Step. We work with many schools and care homes, but how else can we partner in order to take dance to more places? This is something for me to explore. For now, I can share some of the work we already have with regards to dance, fitness and weight. Here is a link to all of our blog posts about health and wellbeing…
We will be discussing all of these things in our next All Hands Meeting (a meeting for all the TRS Teachers that is held twice a year) and we will be speaking to Scott further about how we can reach more of the right people.
I will end with a quote from Scott. I met with him this morning (less than 24 hours after the very busy summit!) and asked him about his thoughts on partnership.
It’s the informalities of partnership and networking that makes them what they are. My quote about partnership would be taken from M Riley who said ‘Start somewhere, follow them everywhere.’ Problems are only going to be solved by working together and we will improve social isolation, community engagement and everything that overlaps. That is why this agenda is such a passion for me.
On Thursday 22nd February artists and interested people gathered to contemplate the value of art and to share their experiences. I went along to not only provide a workshop about Active Armchairs, but to also discover what other artists have been up to in Medway and Kent.
Valuing Art & Culture in Medway and Kent was organised by Laura King of Look Kloser and Luci Napleton from Medway Council after Laura shared her idea for a day to encourage collaboration. It all began with a chat at Medway Dance Network and snowballed from there.
I took part in Laura’s workshop where she told us how all of her sessions are open for anyone, no matter what and reminded us of the importance of pausing for participants. Georgia Smith, representing Loop Dance Company (yes, she’s also a TRS Teacher and our Adult Dance Co-ordinator, she wears many hats!), share her ideas for a cohesive approach to a dance class for children. We discussed the difference between creative dance and cross-curricular dance and came to the conclusion that it’s like a Hoover… all cross-curricular dance is creative, but not all creative dance is cross-curricular. Luci shared her experiences with EDNA and we were treated to the rare opportunity to relax and gather our thoughts.
Lastly was my workshop about Active Armchairs. My aim was to give everyone a flavour of what Active Armchairs is, to talk about the importance of choice and to inspire everyone with some Magic Moments. Luckily I was joined by fellow Active Armchairs facilitator, Georgie, who was able to share her favourite moments as well.
The day was a great reminder that there is a wealth of dance expertise out there. Although we do a lot of skills sharing at The Right Step, CPD and sharing is with other is always good for the soul!
In the evening we went to the hall, still at Woodlands Arts Centre, where there were tables and a big screen. Guests arrived and speakers shared their stories of collaboration. There was a great mix of people from various organisations and the general idea was to find a way to collaborate and make art happen.
Speakers were asked what they think is the value of arts and I think the resulting list is all true…
- A sense of purpose and achievement
- Prevents social isolation
- Self worth
- Opportunity for learning
- A feeling of belonging
I know I found some opportunities for collaboration and I’m sure others there did too. I had a day of contemplation and came away buoyant.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!