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Is My Dance Teacher Qualified?

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How do you know if a dance teacher is qualified and experienced enough to teach what you’ve asked them for? Unfortunately,  the answer is complicated. There are many routes into dance teaching, just as there are many dance styles. In this blog post I will help you decide whether your dance teacher, or prospective dance teacher is suitable. This will also help trainee teachers work out what route they want to take for their career.
 
A combination off all of the following will make for a well-rounded dance teacher. A qualification alone doesn’t necessarily mean a good teacher and, as with all teaching, personality and passion are also a big factors!
 

Qualifications

In most professions these are the key to discovering someone’s suitability. In dance they go a long way to doing so, but you need to points 2 to 4 in mind as well.
 
If you want a class to lead to dance exams  you will need someone who has qualified with the relevant governing body. For community dance and creative dance you are much better off with someone who has a dance degree or, better yet, a DTALL. For dance with specialist groups such as older adults or people with disabilities a dance teacher should have further training in addition to their degree. This is normally part of their Continued Professional Development (CPD), but it could have been a specific part of their degree or as a qualification such as Green Candle Dance Company’s Diploma. For cross-curricular dance look for a degree as well as experience or training related to the curriculum because this is a very creative discipline that involves thinking outside the box as well as dance talent.
 
Examples of qualifications held by TRS Teachers are – BA (Hons) Degrees and Masters Degrees in dance, various dance teaching qualifications from ISTD, RAD etc.
 

Experience

Once a dance artist gains their initial qualification, they will need to start to gain experience.
 
This could be from a structured course such as Loop Dance Company’s DASP (Dance Artist Support Programme) or by going to another teachers’ lessons for observations and team teaching. At The Right Step we have teachers who have taken both routes. Neither is better than the other because both are so varied and everybody learns differently. Many teachers do a combination of both. It is at this stage that the dance artists discover their passions and focus their teaching. The more classes a teacher experiences, the better.
 
Excellent dance teachers will always be learning from and inspired by their peers and we have a mentoring programme to help teachers progress.
 

Legislation

Unfortunately there are surprisingly few things that a dance teacher must legally have and, unless they belong to a governing body or are teaching for a larger company such as TRS, there is probably no one to check up on them. That doesn’t mean dance teachers working alone don’t have what’s needed though. It just means the place they’re working in needs to check for it. If the class is outside of an organisation such as a school or care home, parents and participants should ask the dance teacher for the relevant things.
 
Every dance teacher must have a DBS check to work with children, even whilst gaining experience and not yet teaching themselves. Public Liability Insurance is just as important. If the dance teacher is working for you via a larger company, that company must hold sufficient Employer’s Liability Insurance. It is not sufficient for only one of these insurances to be in place.
 
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is relatively new, but all dance teachers must be compliant. In addition to the TRS compliance documents, the TRS Teachers also have their own. 
 
Though there aren’t many legal requirements, there are lots of things that are good practice, and looking for these things is more likely to lead you to someone meeting higher teaching standards within class as well.
 
A good dance teacher will have First Aid training and Child Safeguarding Training. Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults (SOVA) training is also available. These training sessions are good for the safety of their participants and the teachers themselves. They also provide teachers with the knowledge of procedures they should have in place.
 
An excellent dance teacher might also be a member of a governing body such as People Dancing and will have Policy and Procedure documents (inc. Risk assessments). Many of the TRS Teachers are members of organisations. The TRS Teachers don’t need their own policy and procedure documents for the work they do for The Right Step because they use ours.
 

Continued Professional Development (CPD)

Dance Teachers should always be learning and experiencing new things. The dance world is every changing and to be an excellent teacher they must stay current and inspired. To do this an excellent dance teacher will go to workshops, take short courses and do dance class for themselves. This is all at a cost to them and is one of the things that means an excellent dance teacher should be paid more.
 
The list of CPD is endless and ever-changing so it is difficult to know what is good to see on a CV. You can ask for certificates, check the course background (such as course provider and whether it is accredited) and ask the dance teacher what they learnt from it.
 
CPD helps dance teachers specialise. A dance teacher is best if they are able to teach where their passion lies.
 
CPD is essential in the dance world for learning more about specialist subjects such dance with specific mental health conditions, dance with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s or dance in education such as cross-curricular dance. This is because their aren’t enough specialist accredited courses and, if there are, they are often very costly. A dance teacher has to balance their earning and their learning. If they are not paid enough, they are unable to continue to learn.
 
CPD doesn’t always have to be dance specific, it can inform practice, such as Chair Based Exercise Training or the Exercise to Music course. The Active Armchairs facilitators are Dementia Friends and this helps them support the people they work with in the right way. 
 
 
 
At The Right Step we strive for high quality dance for everyone. This means we keep our prices reasonable, paying the dance teachers fairly, and we support them in their careers. We work with trainee dance teachers at Level One right through to highly experienced practitioners at Level Three. We have progression routes for their careers and support them with our mentorship programme, annual reviews and celebrations of success. We are always welcoming new members to the team and if someone would like to get in touch they can find their local branch by clicking HERE
 

Proprioception and Vestibular Sense

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Proprioception is the body’s unconscious ability to sense the position, location and movement of the body and it’s parts. In dance this is often referred to as spatial awareness. In ‘Every Child a Mover’, Jan White describes it as “An awareness of the body, knowing where our limbs and ‘edges’ are and where our body is in space.”
 
The Vestibular Sense refers to the body’s vestibular sensory system that monitors and adjusts it’s sense of balance and orientation to the world. This sense is what keeps the us upright while standing, sitting or walking and it is primarily located in the inner ear.
 
Together proprioception and the vestibular sense allow us to move purpose, grace and without knocking into things (sometimes!), but as with all our senses and most bodily functions, we have to learn how to use them and they can be developed and improved slightly throughout life. Babies and toddlers, have to develop these skills from scratch and they are still developing through primary school. Young people, teenagers through adolescence, often suffer temporary loss or impairment of proprioception and the vestibular sense.
 
In general, for young children developing these areas of body awareness is achieved by doing as many different movements in as many different ways as possible. This blog post will explore some specific ways in which we can support these areas of development and changing needs within our dance classes. This blog post does not refer to when there is a medical need for improvement. For these times professional medical advice should be sought. This blog post is designed to support those who work with children and young people.

Mariinsky’s Swan Lake The corps de ballet must be keenly aware of where their bodies are in space.

Balancing
Balance is associated with the vestibular system as well as the motor and visual systems more so than with proprioception, but they still work in tandem.
 

Travel stop is a good game to improve balance. The participants move around the room in a way that relates to the class theme or using a travelling movement such as a gallop. When the teacher shouts stop and/or holds up a sign to signify stop, the participants hold a still position in a similar way to musical statues. The next stage of this game is to call out a position for participants to get into. For example, in an opposites theme you might ask them to make a low shape and the next time a high shape. This is where the balance comes in, state that they need to be on one leg or show them the balance position you want them to do.

You can use balance to bring everyone back to focus anytime during the school day or at the end of a cool down as a calming item. Just ask the group to stand with their feet slightly apart (in ‘place’) and the  slowly rise up onto the balls of their feet. They could hold their arms out to the side or on the hips to help them. Closing eyes emphasises the affect on their balance development  as well as their focus.
 
Another fun balance game is sitting on a ball. This works with balls of lots of different sizes, but they can’t be spongey because then they squash flat. Ask the children to pick a ball and take it to their space. The aim is to sit on the ball for the duration of the song. If they find it easy the task can be developed for body parts or types of balance. This is great for a creative dance class where balls are used as a prop or for one of our ball skills classes (all sorts of ball props and creative dance coming together! Imagine soft squishy snowballs, shakey cat bells and giant balloon balls all in one very fun class for under 5s!).
 
Bare feet!
Have you ever wondered why babies prefer to be in bare feet? My daughter spends a great deal of time removing shoes and socks and she was one of the reasons I began learning more about the vestibular sense and proprioception because refereed to a lot when researching physical development in babies.
 

Going barefoot helps to map the body and, although many dance styles require shoes to be worn in class, tap, character and street come to mind, we can help children in their development by encouraging them to move barefoot in creative dance or for sections of a dance class.
 
 
Part of a creative dance class could explore different ways the feet come into contact with the floor… stamping, jumping, sliding, tip toes, feet edges (being extra careful!), light taps and stronger taps etc. Barefoot races with different forms of travelling such as running, hopping, galloping or slime slid
es (when the floor is covered in slime and you have to get through it but sometimes it’s slippery and then suddenly it’s sticky and then it’s back to slippery again).
 
Going barefoot can also apply to our Active Armchairs sessions with older adults, many of whom spend most of their lives in slippers or shoes. Perhaps we could organise a barefoot class with sensory boxes for the feet (sand or tiny fluffy pom poms), a giant elastic to signify the edge of the sea for dipping toes in and a ball to try and keep under the foot.
 
For a little bit more about Barefoot Babies you can read Dr Kacie Flegal’s article: 
http://www.naturalchildmagazine.com/1210/barefoot-babies.htm
 

Body pressure

This involves stimulating the receptors in the skin and is great for developing an inner ‘map’ of the body. Movements like rolling, crawling like a baby or a bear, army crawling, crab walking or being a worm or snake are great. All you need is an empty space like a dance studio or school hall!

Props can also help. Games with lycra such as when the group holds the lycra and an individual makes shapes underneath or all sitting around the lycra pushing the feet and hands up to make shapes.
 

 
Move With Others
As well as moving by themselves, children develop their vestibular sense by being moved by others. This includes everything from being thrown in the air by a fun uncle to giving and / or receiving a great big bear hug! This links in with body pressure (above).
 
Some rhymes and games can be done with a friend or as a group and these make a great brain break during the school day or a quick, related or unrelated section in a dance class. Some to try include Row, Row,Row Your Boat, Ring a Roses, In and Out The Dusky Bluebells and many of the songs that involve horses, but performed with a partner or sitting on an adults lap (perfect for our TRS Tots classes!). Try Mother, Father and Uncle John, This is the Way The Lady Rides or Horsey Horsey. 
 
Be Creative
In our school staff training programme, Dance: A Cross-curricular Approach, we teach staff how to give ownership of the movement to their pupils. Although this does make it a lot easier and more enjoyable for school staff who are teaching dance as a subject, it is also very beneficial for the pupils. It has been established that children learn through play and at their own pace. When developing body awareness, children have to go through a process in their own time.  A creative dance class supports this order of development because it both gives young children the opportunity to move in the way their body needs to move on that day and also includes sections of taught movement that provide examples of other things they could do.
 
 
 

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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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Life On A Farm

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By Georgie, TRS Teacher, Educating Dance Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

20170524_143213This term at Miers Court Primary School I was working with reception class and their topic was “Life on a Farm”. What a great topic! The teachers had already asked me to do some sort of line dancing with the classes, which I was thrilled about!

But first off, we needed to do a warm up. We started off by walking around the room in various directions. In each of the corners there were 4 different animals; a cow, a sheep, a chicken and a horse! When I said an animal, the class had to go to that corner and do the action for that animal. We had galloping horses, skipping lambs, pecking chickens and some very slow movements for the cow! The children were great at really getting the movements of each animal, I almost forgot they were children! The chickens were definitely convincing!

Next onto the line dancing. I taught both groups 2 line dances, one was to 5, 6, 7, 8 by Steps. The children picked this up so quickly! And the upbeat music really helped them to get into the style of the movements. I then taught the “Fuzzy Duck Slide” as I thought this was very fitting to their farm theme. We performed this to a classic country song, “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus, and I must admit I was slightly stunned when some of the children new the song! They really enjoyed this song. So much so, they started to freestyle and play guitars etc. and it looked so good I kept it in for the show performance!

20170524_140608Lastly, in their groups they came up with a freeze frame based on a picture of a farm that I showed them. They looked really good! From there I gave each group a different animal (from the ones I used in the warm up) and asked them to create 4 movements for that animal. These classes had such creative minds and their movements were excellent. We put this altogether for our show.

 

20170524_140602Then came show day and the children had all dressed up. We had lots of farmers and lots of different animals, an elephant even appeared on our farm! They looked just perfect for the show. I am so proud of reception class, their performance was fantastic, they audience really enjoyed it and gave them a huge cheer. All the children left with huge smiles on their faces, and so they should after all that hard work!

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Reception class at Miers Court Primary. They were an absolute pleasure!

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Kind Words from Mayflower

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Mayflower Care Home hold Active Armchairs, Circle Dance and Active Armchairs One to One sessions with TRS Teachers, Steph and Georgie. They enjoy the sessions so much that they wrote about them in their Winter 2016 Newsletter. They added lots of photos of Rebecca’s Circle Dance classes (currently delivered by Georgie) and described the dancing as a ‘great success’.

Keep up the great work Steph and Georgie!

To read the newsletter in more detail please click and zoom on the photo below…

Mayflower Winter Newsletter 2016

 

Phonics at All Hands

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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 cllettersoundsass 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!

20160229_133933Next 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.

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Magic Moments

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On Monday the TRS team met for November’s All Hands Meeting. We have two a year and use them as an opportunity for the team to get together and discuss the company and ideas for its future. We always go around the table to introduce ourselves because there’s often a new teacher or two and not everyone knows each other well. This time we each shared a Magic Moment from or thought about TRS classes. Here are just a few (the ones I could write down quick enough!)…

Steph
When at Fort Horsted I was talking to Edith about my honeymoon and she asked me to smuggle her in my suitcase and take her with me. When I went back again after honeymoon she had a giggle fit. She thought it was so funny that she had asked to be smuggled in a suitcase!

Alix
Going to Victory House on a Friday afternoons makes my week complete. I have such a good time. One lady comes in to visit her brother at the time I’m there every week and joins in too.

Bex
When I first started at TRS I visited Byron Lodge with Rebecca and Steph. I met Rose. Every time I went in she remembered me and said ‘Oh, you’re back’ and made me feel welcome. More recently, at Mersham Primary, where I’ve been teaching cross-curricular Samba and carnival dance classes, one of the dancers said ‘I don’t want you to go, I want you to stay forever!’

Georgia
At Warren Wood Academy we played a name game about what we did at the weekend and I told them about shopping for my sister’s wedding dress. After our break, the children had collected some leaves and threw them over me like confetti. I didn’t have the heart to explain it wasn’t my wedding, they were so sweet!

Abi
Last week I went to Winchester House with Steph. It was the first Active Armchairs session I’d seen and I’ve never been in a care home in my life. I was nervous and stood next to a nice lady most of the time. When Steph put on the song ‘Time of your life’, a resident, Mark, put his things aside and danced. He was so happy and it made my day.

Clare
Once I went to Montgomery Court and only Doff and Mary came to class. It was disappointing at first, they are such big characters that we giggled throughout the whole class. ‘Wonderful World’ is our signature song for cool down. I can’t get away without doing it. Doff now has a toy frog that sings the song. She brought it and it sung as we danced!

Georgie
I went for a taster session at The Vale. The first session was amazing so I looked forward to the second. Gwen always sits up straight and proper, but when she dances she really shows her character and enjoys herself. There are always residents walking in and out of the room there. By the end there were a lot of people in the room, but instead of sitting down, they stood in the middle and danced! It was like a big party in the end.

We enjoyed hearing the Magic Moments so much that we’ve decided to make a big thing of it. There will be lots of Magic Moments going out on our Facebook page and we hope to make them a permanent addition! Check them out here… https://www.facebook.com/therightstepdc/

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Stress Free Freelancer – Calm Those Nerves

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Stress Free Freelancer
Nervousness is something that dancers are familiar with. The chances are that every dance teacher has experienced nervousness just before a performance. Back stage, sweaty palms, forgetting the first move, needing the loo when you only just went. Everyone experiences it differently and most dance teachers have learnt how to manage stage fright.

 

Nervousness as a community dance practitioner can be a very different thing. It might happen just before class or a new exercise (“oh no, what comes next!?”) It might be that the mountain of admin is the scary bit so it gets put aside (see Mountain Management). It might be driving nerves or what if? nerves. Whatever the cause there are things that can be done and I’ve put a few ideas here. I suffer from nervousness in a big way because I always think too much. These things have helped me, but it’s important to find what works for you as well.

The Deep Breath
Yes, we’ve heard it before. Take a deep breath before moving on. It works though. Last Thursday I sat at lunch with some other business owners. It was clear we were all having a stressful week for one reason or another and that meant everyone was a bit tense. I called upon my dance training, we sat up straight and lifted our arms as we took a deep breath in. As we slowly lowered and breathed out I noticed that my (very cooperative) colleagues were quite surprised. Conversation flowed more easily after that. The breathing moment made us happier.

Solve The Problem
Often we worry for a reason that can be solved. Perhaps you’re putting something off or think you have too much to do? Solve the problem and the nerves will go. You might feel proud of yourself too. If you feel there’s too much to do you could solve the problem with a list. Wonderful things that often show you there’s less to do than you think!

Distraction Technique
Do something different for a few moments. Perhaps you’re nervous because you’re thinking too much or because you have wound yourself up? A couple of minutes of distraction won’t hurt your schedule as much as dwelling on the nerves will so find the distraction technique that works for you. Some ideas…

Dancing!!
A few yoga poses
Laugh
Phone a friend (or fellow dance teacher)
Walk (not even out of the house, just to a different room will do!)

Get Some Sleep
Lack of sleep can cause a vicious circle of nerves and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. A really fantastic trick, one with scientific underpinning and that I believe in, is the 4-7-8. This can also help if you have a late evening class and find it difficult to wind down. Among other things the 4-7-8 slows your heart rate, clears your mind and relaxes you. Breath in for 4, hold it for 7 and breath out again for 8. Count slowly though! It’s tempting to breath more quickly than this, but don’t and you will be rewarded with sleep. There’s lots more information a quick Google away so have a read before you try it.

Whatever the cause of your nervousness it’s so important to choose a solution that fits you and your situation. And if nothing seems to work you can always embrace the nerves and use them to your advantage somehow. One things for sure, nerves tend to scare you into working harder and producing better results!

The final thing I’ve learnt… a lot of the time anxiety is formed from a combination of thinking to much and an over active imagination. With this knowledge it becomes (slightly) easier to reduce the nerves.

So next time you’re feeling anxious about something find something that works for you and try to combat it.

Good luck!

World Book Day – St Andrew’s School

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Steph went to St Andrew’s School and worked with Reception to Year 6. There stories were…

Year R – The Three Little Pigs
Year 1 – Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs
Year 2  – The Hedgehog
Year 3 – Bill’s New Frock
Year 4 – Charlotte’s Web
Year 5 – Kensuke’s Kingdom
Year 6 – The Railway Children

“We celebrate World Book Day every year and have a series of planned activities including dressing up, competitions and our Year 6 children prepare and share stories with our Pre-School and Infant classes. The themed dance sessions, linked to the books the children study in class, will provide cross-curricular links, bringing the books alive.”
Mrs Emma Steinmann Gilbert, St Andrew’s School Principal

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In Year 6 the dancers used hankies to support siblings as  they travelled to Yorkshire. Year 4 were welcomed into the room to find a giant spider web made of wool!

I went to see one of the Year 5 workshops, Kensuke’s Kingdom. Steph taught the class a phrase about waves and the pupils learnt how you can use a phrase lots of times in a dance, but tweak it each time to keep things interesting. They had blue material to use as the sea (I was reminded of Changes in the Current!)

For more about World Book Day click HERE.

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World Book Day – Greenvale Infant’s School

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TRS Teachers Sophie and Rebecca went to Greenvale Infant’s this week. I was lucky enough to visit on of the Year 2 BFG workshops. You can see the video of that below.

“It’s really nice to see the children do something different for World book week. All the children were really enthused about the story, and it was lovely to see how dance was used to look at the story without words or picture. It was great that every child was involved and dancing. When they went back to the class room, they were still moving like the monkey and crocodile.”
Mrs Whale, Head of English at Greenvale Infants School         

Sophie wrote…
I couldn’t wait to start planning for my sessions based on The BFG as this was one of my favourite books growing up and it still is! I decided there was no better way to start the session then sending the class into the actual story and put themselves in Sophies shoes! We lie asleep, trying not to make a sound and then the music starts with a crash and a bang! What’s that? We tip toe to the window to peer outside into the Witching Hour where we see the most horriblist and ugliest Giant of them all – The Fleshlumpeater! Children run and hide under their duvet (my parachute!), squealing with fright and excitement!

20160229_133908We then met the BFG and Sophie and came up with descriptive words for their characters, everything from what they look like down to their personality. As a class we put actions to each word and created a phrase for each character. The BFG had tall, big, bouncy movements while Sophie had tiny, creeping and delicate movements.

The favourite exercise of the session was undoubtedly The Dreamcatcher Game! In pairs, one dancer was The BFG and the other was a Dream. The BFG had to try and catch the dodging dream!

For group work we created a dream or a nightmare sequence, each group had to choose which one they wanted to create and from their starting position the rest of the group had to decide if they had created a lovely, floaty dream or a frightening nightmare! I felt this was a real success as each group used different qualities of movement to match their chosen dream and the rest of the class successfully guessed their creation.
Rebecca wrote…

I visited Greenvale Infants to teach them the wonderful themes of Roald Dahl stories through using creative dance. The stories danced were The Magic Finger , The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me, and The BFG; to Nursery children up to Year 2. Not all the children had read the stories, which made it very exciting – as they really needed to use their imaginations to guess and use their movements to explore it’s themes.

The Magic finger
The nursery children focused mainly on the magic and transformation! By learning a short phrase using their own “magic fingers” to connect with their friends by touching their fingers together, then transforming by wiggling and shaking all over into either a low slinky cat with scratchy arms, like the teacher in the story, or grow wings to glide and flap arms like the Greggs. Or even a waddling duck, like the ones who take over the house in the story. What topped of the session was asking the children dance to “Hooked on a feeling”. Using their jazz hands and jumps to show what it felt like before the magic zapped out of their fingers, then travelling around the room touching fingers and transforming their friends, and copying each other.

IMG-20160301-WA0000The Enourmous Crocodile
The children walked into the room to find, much of their surprise,  an Enormous Crocodile taped out on the floor. The children had to describe what he looked like, from his teeth to his tail, and move like the word they used e.g. zig zag teeth and swishy tail. Then the children were introduced to each of the animals in the story and heard how the crocodile was tricky and sly, and sometimes bit the other characters. We explored how these animals might move in the story, such as Trunky would hop and use is trunk to reach in & out; Monkey would swing and jump from tree to tree; Roly Poly bird would fly and her feathers would drift and float in the wind. The children then learnt what tricks the Enourmous Crocodile used to try and capture children (like them!) to swallow them up. The Reception children did a fantastic job suggesting movements and remembering the dance at the very end that we made all together. Using lots of the words and phrases from the story and pictures of the characters, the dancers used so much imagination and were all transported into the jungle.

“My favorite thing of all was all of it!”

“I liked swinging like a monkey.”

“I liked being the crocodile and snapping.”

 

The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me
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This is one of my favourite stories when I was little, as I had loved that the story was about working together to achieve your dreams. For this story the children went on a journey to Grubbers (an empty shop) where we entered Billies dream of owning his own Sweet shop; we moved like the sweets by twisting like candy canes, popping like crackle candy, wiggling like strawberry laces, and by sticking and stretching like  chewy sweets.
IMG-20160302-WA0005Then we met the Windowless window cleaning company (Giraffe, Pelly & Monkey) and the children suggested ways we could  stretch and reach to show the Giraffes growing magical neck, climb and wipe in patters (circles/zig zags/ up & down), and lastly the scooping and flying of the Pelly using down & up motions. The class follow the story to a game of catching the cobra, where they had to take care and work with each other to stop the jewel thief! Since the main focus was on team work, the children formed trios using a shape (still as a picture in a book) and had to really listen and work together to create their very own dance using the characters movements to show them working as a team to clean all 677 windows of the dukes house.

The children did fantastically well, and really enjoyed using the Pelly and monkey movements to travel around the room. The children all managed to listen and work successfully in their groups, much like the Ladderless window cleaning company.

More about World Book Day…
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