Categotry Archives: Other
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!
Georgie set my daughter and I a challenge this month…
Make some Valentine’s Day themed dance props! We had a lovely time making them and playing with them since. I’m not going to tell you how to make these things as there are lots of tutorials online about that already, but I would like to share some thoughts and ideas about what we did.
- This is a fantastically versatile prop. You can change the size (imagine a massive one for team work!), the shape (small hand held ones for dancing with), the content and the colour (red gel food colouring was pretty) so they could fit almost any theme.
- These are a wonderful thing for Active Armchairs. For all the reasons they are good for sensory stimulation, but also because they are unusual, not patronising (providing the contents is appropriate) and they brighten up the room.
- We only had jars for this, but I do think plastic screw top bottles are better. The jars look very pretty, but they are a little heavy and might break if dropped.
- When making them hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills were developing.
- You can dance with them, copy them or move after them as they roll away.
- Play a version of eye spy and use the things in the bottle as inspiration for choreography.
Hearts for Hopping!
- I used an A4 bit of card and let Tiny One choose how to decorate them. We used crayons, stickers and paint. We could have made smaller ones and turned them into wands!
- They are also very versatile as shape, size, colour, decoration etc. can be changed.
- The texture of the puffy stickers is a nice addition to the game. Other textures could be used as well.
- They could also be used for aiming or landing pads and this would be fun for Active Armchairs.
- This would be a lovely thing for a cross-curricular approach. Each child in the class could make their own and they can bring them to dance as a magic spot or as part of a larger thing such as a long snake of hopping stones.
I enjoyed this challenge so if you have one to set us please get in contact and we’ll see what we can make!
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!
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!”
“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!”
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!
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.
Why we love the pound shop!
by Clare Wilders, Level Two TRS Teacher and Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator.
As dance teachers we are always looking for innovative ways to spice up our dance classes. From using YouTube videos to show a piece of choreography, pictures so children can visualise the theme of our class, to props to give the actual dance element of the class more impact. In fact in our Active Armchairs classes, a prop is a compulsory element to the class, bringing an added element of interaction and assisting older people in maintaining their dexterity.
In an ideal world we would have an unlimited budget to use for our props, however as self employed teachers, we have books to balance, so a little creativity goes a long way.
Many an hour can be whiled away shuffling through bargains in the toy department, or as I was this morning, wandering up and down the Christmas aisle of the pound shop looking for potential Christmas props for my Active Armchairs classes next week.
I found some items with potential. I nearly bought a whole bundle of Christmassy cat teasers… with feathers, santas and little bells on each, only to find that they tangled up really easily just hanging up. Imagine the delay to my class trying to drag them out of my dance bag after they had turned into the inevitable spaghetti of strings and santas!
Finally I settled on a few random items showing potential:
In previous classes I have borrowed the TRS “Jingle sticks” with great success, and these are inspired by those, but a little different. Using a pool noodle, we could have a softer “stick” element so they could easily be patted against a hand or leg.
So far so good:
I also found some wreath hangers that bore great gold bells… so of course the Cat got little curious:
Things were looking jingly. A touch of gift ribbon, and the results are below. I can’t wait to try them out to “Jingle Bells” next week.
On Monday we had our All Hands Meeting. We have one every six months and it’s a chance for the team to get together, find out what’s been happening in the company and to plan for its future. Each time we try to have something a bit extra and this time we learnt a bit about phonics!
TRS Teacher Alice used to work as a teaching assistant and in her role at school she learnt a lot about phonics. She was kind enough to share a little of this knowledge so that we could get some insight into what the children learn in class. The Educating Dance teachers (the TRS Teachers training in the TRS cross-curricular approach) also gained some ideas for their classes.
Phonics is an approach used by primary school teachers to teach reading and spelling. Pupils learn sounds of letters and groups of letters and are able to break words down so that they can work out how to write/read the words themselves. They learn quickly and gain independence. When I saw Alice using phonics in her dance class I thought it would be an excellent thing to share with the TRS Teachers. A chance for them to enhance pupils learning and make their classes flow well with what the dancers are already doing in school.
Alice shared the phonics sounds with us first (some are listed on the left). There are lots to learn. Not just the letters of the alphabet, but also the sounds as letters join together to create phonemes. It surprised the TRS Teachers that children learn so much in the process of learning to write and read. It works though!
Next we thought of some ideas for using phonics in class. Things like warm ups that involve phonemes that sound almost the same such as i, ie, igh etc. Perhaps the teacher could give a word containing one of these and the dancers could move to the space that represents the correct one. When we introduce keywords in cross-curricular dance we can now spell them out in a way that dancers will most relate to. Choreography often comes up in class and confuses everyone! This might make things easier. We also talked about the benefits of using phonics in our English cross-curricular classes such as Extended Sentences or during Book Week (the photo shows a BFG workshop during Book Week 2016).
We were left with many ideas and some new knowledge to put into practice! Thank you Alice for sharing. I look forward to the results.
Props add value to our dance classes. They make our classes colourful, more exciting, noisy… The list goes on. They can be used with people of all ages and abilities and props can help TRS Teachers adapt dances to the needs of the class.
The Right Step has a collection of props available for the TRS Teachers to borrow, but some of the best props are the ones the TRS Teachers have made themselves. I’ve collected a few of the teacher’s ideas here…
“Well that brightened up our morning” Joan, a participant at Rochester Care Home, December 2015
Stretchy Strips and Flying Fish
The Active Armchairs facilitators know all about Clare’s stretchy strips. Made from bits of trousers, they are used like ribbons, but they are stretchy. She also cut up squares of colourful material to make ‘fish’. By far some of the most colourful props, they are also great for the imagination.
I made this prop a long time ago for Changes in The Current, a FUSE Festival commission, but it’s still going strong. Sophie found lots of blue material. I cut it up and sewed it together to make a 3m by 1m piece of material. There was blue thread all over the house while I was making it, but it was worth it. It still gets used even now. Steph took it to her Kensuke’s Kingdom workshop and used it as the sea at St Andrew’s Primary a few weeks ago.
Technically not made, but definitely re purposed… Sophie brought the tights to our Active Armchairs sharing day and we a great time. It felt silly and fun and brought lots of colour to the room. Thankfully we were using the office after hours so the other office users didn’t wonder what was going on. Cheap and fun, key when making your own props.
Tights also came up quite a long time ago, I’d had an idea after the edna project and working with Wendy Daws. They still don’t have a name, but the other facilitators helped me make them. Rings, circles, tights things, shadow makers. Who knows what they should be called!
These are one of Steph’s favourite props. Really versatile and friendly to all different types of hands. Steph filled the eggs with rice and stuck colourful tap around to keep them together. They’re great for rhythms in a sound themed cross-curricular class or at Active Armchairs to give those who don’t want to dance something to do.
I spent a lot of time and great care making my sticks! I wanted them to be smooth so that they didn’t hurt people and I wanted them to be versatile so that I could use them with various things. Some of the participants in my Active Armchairs classes, particularly the men, like to hear about how they were made and then talk about the things they’ve made in the past.
“We had a really in depth study of the care you had taken to make your jingle sticks at Montgomery Court the other week! They were all very impressed with the fact that there were no snags and that the bells had been carefully tied on with elastic, so that they could be removed if needed. Your ears must have been burning! In a good way :D” Clare, TRS Teacher
How were they made? I got some dowel, cut it into lengths, spent a long time sanding them down individually, washed them, varnished them (twice!) and then tie ribbons or bells to them. They are great for rhythms in Sound themed classes or as Jingle bells at Christmas!
Georgia made her Sensory Stick props so that they were all different. Each one contains a garden stick and is covered in cotton wool and material, but they have their own personalities! One has buttons, one is furry, one has bells and one has plastic underneath the material so that it crunches!
That was just a small selection of the home made props. There are many more!