Categotry Archives: Schools

Journeys

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In the Summer Term of 2015, Level Two TRS Teachers Alix and Shanice worked with the Reception classes at Miers Court Primary School. This was Alix’s first time working with a cross-curricular Approach, though she’s taught many many lessons working to a specified theme. Shanice came along to see what cross-curricular dance is all about and, by the end of the sessions, she decided it’s something she’d like to work on in the future.

Here is what Alix had to say about it.

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Warming up for the Journey

 

Shanice and I have just finished our cross-curricular classes at Miers Court Primary School and we have thoroughly enjoyed working with both the school and the children.

The classes focused on ‘Journeys’ so we took all of the Reception year on a fantastic journey to a hot dessert island so they could find treasure.

 

 

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The Rowing Boat

Firstly we had to go on a few other journeys before we could reach our destination. We visited the beach where we started our adventure. The children played in the sand, rubbed on their sun cream, enjoyed ice creams and even ensured our hats and sun glasses were on to protect us from the sun. Next we stepped into the sea to go on a number of boats. We went on a rowing boat, a canoe and on speed boats that were very fast. On our boat journey we saw many sea creatures. The children enjoyed pretending to be a shark, octopus, crab and fish.

 

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The Treasure!

At last, after our speed boat adventure, we stepped onto our very quiet, beautiful dessert island. The children searched behind palm trees and even used a map to find the treasure! We eventually found the golden treasure and the children were so excited they created a disco dance to celebrate!

 

 

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Having a Disco to Celebrate

The children worked very hard and were committed in all of their sessions. They were supported by their teachers which was lovely.

The lovely reception classes even created their own moves for the dance and performed the whole piece with lots of energy.

Shanice and I were very sad to leave, but we hope Miers Court enjoyed the dance. Well done Year R, it has been a pleasure!

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End of an Era Performance

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I’ve been working with Year 2 at Balfour Infants School for two years now and I’ve seen them transform from a timid Year 1 to fantastic dancers in Year 2.

I remember the first session in year 1. The girls all got their socks muddled up because the patterns were so similar. It didn’t take them long to get into the dance routine though and by the third week they were prancing about making up dances.

Over the two years we’ve used themes such as IMAG0284Ice, Magical Creatures, Aliens (a very popular Dr Who based theme!) and Carnival. The dancers have learnt choreography and choreographed so many of their own dances too.

In one of the very first classes we used a giant elastic for warm up and they were enjoying it so much that I took some photos. The photo to the right is one of the first photos I ever took of this group!

The end of year performance is a chance for Year 2 to show bits of their favourite dances. I let them choose and then mix the music together to create a very long piece. We then work together to remember the dances, because some were a very long time ago by this point, and create transitions to make sure the different themes flow together smoothly.

IMAG7309This year both Year 1 and 2 also worked with another TRS Teacher, Katie in term 6. They had learnt the chorus to the Frozen dance with me and then Katie helped them choreograph the verses. As Year 1 had worked so well they were invited to join in with the performance as well. The photo to the left is the ‘Let It Go’ bit of the chorus!

 

I’d like to congratulate all the dancers for their fantastic performance. They worked so hard and deserved the big round of applause they received at the end of the dance! Really well done to them all. I hope to see the Year 2s at Balfour Junior’s Dance Club when they move up. I like to go and visit, see how they’re getting on with Alix!

Below is a photo of me with the dancers after their first performance and below that is a video of the dance they did. Enjoy!

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Slavic Vs Latin Amercian Dance

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So this week we we were in Greenvale Infants School studying the differences between dances from the North Eastern (in relation to England) and South Western parts of the world as part of their geography workshops.

The whole school was involved with a series of classes held over two days in which we learned elements of a Russian and Hungarian dance notably the Sappoggi and Czardash respectively as well as elements from the Dominican Republic and Cuba with our Merengue and Salsa dance steps.

The aim was to compare the two styles, and actually as a dance teacher this was quite interesting for me too.

I noticed that the basics were very similar… the Merengue two step was very similar to the Czardash, and the basic solo Salsa step a much lighter version of the Sappoggi step. So we then looked at the differences.

A big difference was in costume… with the Russians and Hungarians wrapped up nice and warm agains the elements, and the Latin Americans wearing… well very little actually! I guess being so hot, warm, cosy clothing would not be conducive to dancing. I also noticed that possibly as a result of this, the slavic dances were very much about the costume… such as the dusting snow off the boots in the Sappoggi or the showing of rings on fingers in the Hungarian dances. With Latin American dancing it was still about the costume to some extent with fabulous headdresses or feather skirts being shaken and shimmied, but also very much about the movement of the body and arms.

I will say that much as I love teaching the Hungarian and Russian dances, as they are so strong and proud, I found that the minute I put on a spot of Latin music, the whole room erupted into wiggles! It was fantastic! I wish I had had a video… something about this music just makes you want to wiggle. Which the children really enjoyed.

What a great fun way of learning about two different parts of the world.

Wanted: School’s Dance Co-ordinator

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We need someone enthusiastic about providing dance for children and young people to join our office team!

The Right Step’s Schools’ Dance Coordinator will work with the Programme Director to coordinate an inclusive, diverse and artistic programme of both regular and one off events for dance in schools (EYFS upwards).

Please email Rebecca for further information: info@therightstepdc.co.uk

Deadline for applications is Monday 3rd August. Interview details will be announced by Friday 7th August and will be held from Monday 10th August. Start date will be as soon as is suitable following interviews.

In Rehearsal - The Bear Necessities

 

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In The Paper – Carnival Comparisons!

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In the Medway Messenger on Friday 12th June 2015

Press Control on your keyboard and scroll your mouse to make this bigger!

The blog post is here… http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/2015/05/20/carnival-comparisons/
And the video is here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=27&v=Q7wTPDhzgjQ

06003 Miers Court Fri 12th Jun 2015

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Carnival Comparisons

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IMAG7055This term Alix and I worked with Year 1 at Miers Court Primary. The theme was Carnival Comparisons and we had a very colourful time.

We took inspiration from three carnivals, Rio Carnival, a carnival that has non stop dancing for a whole day, Nice Carnival,  possibly the oldest carnival in the world, and Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest carnival in Europe. The dancers choreographed most of the movements and used colourful feathers as props.

Miers Court Puppets

 

Nice Carnival uses lots of giant puppets called Grosse Tetes (French for big heads). I taught the dancers a short motif that they danced in partners, one as the puppet and one the puppeteer. I was really impressed with how they understood the concept. They even choreographed their own dance moves.

 

In the fourth lesson we took all of the carnival dances (motifs) and squashed them together to make a long dance. We only have four lessons per class, but the dances were over five minutes long. They remembered them though!

IMAG7107Today was the show and the dancers were amazing. They did three performances in total, one for the camera, one for the reception classes and one for the adults, for them that was the most exciting!

Alix filmed and took photos and here’s the result! I had a fantastic time working with Year One, I’m sure you can see why!

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Running Round The Room

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Today was our final lesson of the term and we ran around the school hall 6 times.

This might sound like a strange thing to do in a dance lesson, but running around the room has become a regular occurrence at Balfour Infants School and Greenvale Infants School recently. I’ve been adding extra cardio into my classes in a bid to explore the participants’ views on exercise. I have been surprised by how excited they’ve been by it all!

Our theme this term was Doctor Who and I based our warm up around the idea of a clock…

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The Cybermen (Alien of the Week, Week 2)

 

I laid numbers out on the floor (in the shape of a gigantic clock, or as close as I could get it!). We then did a circle warm up in the middle of the clock (everyone took turns to lead a movement that looked like the Alien of the Week and would help warm us up). Then we walked, marched, galloped, skipped and ran our way to each number in turn (clockwise, was one of our key words).

 

Once we reached number 12 we started the main section of cardio and ran around the entire clock. On the first week we only ran around it once, the second week twice, the third week three times and so on until this week we ran around the clock 6 times in a row and then the children each ran to pick up a number and bring it to me as well.

They are only Year 1 and 2 so that is quite a feat!

This week I asked the dancers what they thought about running around the hall so many times and these are some of their comments…

“I want to do it 20 times!”

“It’s exercise.”

“I ran around the playground 12 times once!”

“It pumps your bones… I mean it pumps your blood. It’s good for you.”

One girl said, before the warm up this week…

“I can only run around the hall 5 times. It makes me worn out.”

And then, after the warm up…

“I did it 6 times! I’m getting better”

She was surprised and I wondered why?

I think giving the dancers the opportunity to do this has allowed them to see that they can run around the hall this many times. They know it’s good to exercise, they’re taught that in school, but we now need to find ways to make exercise fun, to make it a habit and to make it something they want to do.

As I’ve seen in this class and as we’ve read in many articles and studies, it’s really important to start healthy habits early and I adding extra cardio to class has been a really good start. It’s not only good for the children, but as I’ve been doing this three times a week I was surprised to discover that it got a little easier for me too.

I’m now thinking up my next exciting plan to increase the amount of cardio for next term’s Creative Dance Clubs.

Music Through Time 2015

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This term I worked with Year 5 at Miers Court Primary School, but I didn’t have to write a new scheme of work because I was asked to use the one from last year. Last year I worked with Year 5, now Year 6, and had a fantastic time so I was really looking forward to doing the same theme again!

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Vogue

 

We began by watching a video showing how fashion has changed over the years. You can watch it by clicking HERE. The dancers were excited to see what people wore ‘back then’ and to see what their parents might have worn ‘in the old days’! The aim became to make a dance like that, but with dance and music through time instead.

 

 

Of course I had to complicate things, so as with last year, I added Dr Who aliens into the mix! They were incorporated into the warm up (a circle warm up using movements inspired by alien of the week), cool down (The Weeping Angels game!), the team names (the Judoon, The Krilitanes, The Weeping Angels, The Darliks and The Oods) and into the last section of the dance (Mars from Holst’s, The Planets Suite).

The Tardis - A huge group shape

The Tardis – A huge group shape

We worked on the dances for six weeks using different music each week and choreographing as a whole class, in small groups and as individuals. It was a very creative time with lots of movement exploration and experimentation!

We ended up with two fantastic dances both including Dr Who’s Tardis and many different dance styles. Below is an Auto Awesome video about the process!

You can read more about last year and see their video by clicking HERE.

 

 

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A World of Dance

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World DanceTwo schools are ending the term with a big, World Dance, bang. St Mary’s Primary School and Hoo St Werburg Primary have both organised a whole week of dance workshops that represent the diverse and exciting world of dance.

The first week of workshops was held at St Mary’s Primary School where Steph, Karen, Gemma and Sophie all went in to lead workshops. Every pupil had a go!

Reception used the book, Tydilik, and a video about a cockatoo to learn about Aboriginal Dance.

TRS Teacher, Sophie said ‘I was with reception in the afternoon. We watched a video of an Aboriginal tribe performing a dance about a White Cockatoo. When we got into the hall we tried out some of the steps we had seen and put together a dance. Comments from the class included ‘I like the flying jumps’ and ‘My favourite bit was the funny knees!’

Year 1 had a workshop about Aliens, not quite of our world, but if they’re there we’re sure they’re dancing somewhere!

Year 2’s topic is Britain so Sophie taught them Country Dancing, she said ‘I had an enjoyable day at St Mary’s, staff and children made me feel very welcome. I first had country dancing with year 2 and both classes were focused and got their head around the fancy formations and changing partners! I split the class half and half for everybody to have a chance to perform and watch. Comments from the audience included ‘how we stand in little groups looks good’, ‘I noticed we made a cross with our arms when we went round’. When asked what their favourite part of the dance was one girl said ‘I liked changing partners’.

50s-danceYear 3 had a Rock ‘n’ Roll workshop with a twist, it linked to their topic, The Rainforest so they ended up with a fantastic Rainforest Rock ‘n’ Roll Party!

Year 4 brought in their wellies and did Gumboot dancing, a very loud African dance style.

Year 5 had a South American themed Samba Dance lesson and last, but not least, Year 6 did STOMP, full of rhythms and sounds, this was a very loud session too!

“The Year 4 classes were so musical and rhythmic and the excitement of the wellingtons helped them even more with their expression.”
Steph, TRS Teacher, February 2015

The TRS Teachers, School Teachers and Pupils all decided who they thought had worked hardest at their dances. These small groups performed in a celebration assembly at the end of the week.

“Dancing was great, I tried to pop in on most sessions.  Everything went well and all seemed to run to plan. I’d be more than happy to run something similar next year, finances permitting.
Thank you for all of your help with organising the week, really helped me out and was a great experience for all.”
Miss Jessup, Teacher at St Mary’s Primary School, February 2015

 

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Following the fantastic week at St Mary’s Primary, some more TRS Teachers went to Hoo St Werburg Primary School.

Foundation Stage had a theme that we’d not done before, China. Year 1 did Country Dancing and Year 2 had South American dance, both with Gemma.

“The children were really well behaved and concentrated well. They had nearly an hour and did really well.”
Foundation Stage Teacher at Hoo St Werburg School, February 2015

“The dance sessions today were fantastic, the children seemed to really enjoy it.”
Mr Tyler, Teacher at Hoo St Werburg Primary School after the first day of classes, February 2015

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Over the week Year 3 did Australian, Aboriginal style, dances with Steph and Clare (see the photo on the right), Year 4 danced The Charleston, Year 5 The Samba and Year 6 had Butoh, a Japanese dance style.

“I was really impressed with the dancers’ ability, they picked up steps really quickly and I even had to add extra steps for them.”
Clare, TRS Teacher, February 2015 

At the end of the week there will be a performance assembly to celebrate all the dances that have been learnt!

 

More about what we offer schools can be found HERE.
We are happy to help schools timetable events such as these world dance weeks. We take the stress out of making sure each class has the opportunity to take part and we make sure that each class has the most suitable dance teacher for the style or topic they’ve asked for.

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Living Longer

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Or more importantly Living Well for Longer:

There has been much publicity recently regarding the increasing of our life expectancy in light of which, we thought we would also look into the recent announcement that one in three children born today is likely to live to 100! In fact this statistic was first announced by the ONS (office for national statistics) back in 2012. Meaning that some of our teachers already have students that stand a one in three chance of seeing their hundredth birthday.

There was quite a focus on the wealth aspect, and how people might have to work for longer or pensions last for longer, however as a dance company thought we were in the perfect position to focus on the health issue. It is all very well living to a hundred, but we want to live well for those hundred years, not spend the last few decades struggling with health issues. Thankfully further research has shown that regular exercise can help prevent or delay the onset of many diseases that can show up in later life, such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and lung problems. Here is just one article of many about the health benefits of exercise.

As a result, we have decided to focus on fitness in our chlidrens’ classes. Habits learned early can stick for life, so why not instil some healthy habits? As pension plans are best started young, why not start your child’s health pension really young? Whilst this is not simply about obesity, excessive weight gain has been shown to be one of the major health issues in children in middle childhood, with this also potentially leading to a number of serious conditions in later life. (Boyd & Bee, 2009).

Rocking Through The Stone Age at Miers Court Primary

Rocking Through The Stone Age at Miers Court Primary

And hence our decision to focus our current dance classes on fitness. Of course In reality, any well-planned dance class is going to help improve fitness. They would all include some gently increasing levels of cardio vascular exercise to warm up, toning and dynamic stretching exercises to prepare muscles for dancing, and further stretching cool them down afterwards. And the dancing itself is a lively activity, so it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to shift the focus a little more towards the fitness aspect of our classes. Already major dance educators such as the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) have included longer jumping sequences in their new syllabi, realising not only the importance of increased cardiovascular fitness but also the fact that modern children are more likely to get their most regular exercise through organised classes as opposed to playing outside in their own time. Here is quite an interesting article on this by the BBC.

So… our dance teachers will be planning their classes with this in mind, increasing the cardio-vascular elements of their classes just that little bit more. This way the children we teach will be getting fitter without even realising. Learning healthy habits in a fun way that will hopefully help them lead a healthier and livelier later life.

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