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 Sophie, Level Two TRS Teacher and Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator
I had a great morning at Querns All4Fun Day. All the staff made me feel very welcome as I arrived and some of the children remembered me from last year. As we were waiting for everybody to arrive a few of the children were keen to show me their Charleston they learnt with Alice and their routine to Justin Timberlake that Alix had taught them.
I was there to give them a taste of Bollywood. Not many knew what it was so I introduced a few key moves in the warm up and we played a game which the group had to copy shapes and positions from pictures. All the dancers and the staff really got stuck in and one dancer said ‘you can’t help but wiggle to this music!’ We put the moves and shapes together and I taught them a routine. The cannon section looked great as they all had such good timing!
After a well deserved snack break we looked at hand gestures which are used in traditional Indian dance to tell a story. Everyone picked a hand gesture to try out from pictures and decided how to make it move, with this we choreographed a short routine together. The dancers seemed to enjoy having a chance to put their ideas forward so for the last 20 minutes before lunch we got into small groups and came up with our own Bollywood dances. We used colourful scraves as Bollywood is bright and vibrant.
Once the group had re-fuelled with lunch we tried out a bit of cheerleading. With pom poms I taught the arm positions and played a game to keep it fun. Then I taught how to jump being helped by a partner so you can jump even higher. This was good fun and we experimented with different types of jumps. To round-up the morning we put the arm positions and jumps into a routine to show what they had learnt.
Written by Alix, Level Two TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator
On Tuesday 2nd August i had the pleasure of teaching some lovely young people for the day at Querns Community Centre. I was welcomed by the friendly staff and welcoming children in the hall of their local school!
The dancers were simply fantastic and brilliant at picking up the routines that i had choreographed for them. We learnt Dances to ‘ Cant stop the feeling’, ‘ No money’, ‘ 7 years’, and ‘New Girl’! Yes, they learnt routines to ALL these songs, they also had tasks to make up their own dance moves as well!
We started the session by being creative and a little crazy with my ribbons , making ‘funky’ shapes to our names, we shared these moves with a friend and added our friend’s moves on as well. We kept adding everyone’s moves until we had a long crazy dance to warm our bodies up!
We then started learning basic street moves including Top rock, Baby freezes and other floor based moves which everyone loved. Once they had these moves we moved on to learning all the routines.
All the children picked them up so quickly that we managed to perform all the dances at the end to the staff one after the other like a performance! They were brilliant!
Everyone including myself had a fabulous time, smiles all round! I hope to see everyone again for another dance!!
We’ve had a fantastic year and couldn’t fit it all in, but we’ve had a good go. So here’s our Christmas newsletter! Try Ctrl scroll to be able to read it better. If that doesn’t work we’re happy to email or post you a copy.
Written by Sophie Fuller, Level Two TRS Teacher and and Active Armchairs Facilitator
All For Fun’ is a summer holliday activity club for young people aged between 5 – 18years. They run Monday – Wednesdays for three weeks and provide activities such as arts and crafts, football and the week TRS went; dance.
I (Sophie) went in on Monday morning 27th July to liven the club up with some cheerleading! The children were a bit apprehensive at first and were reluctant to join in but once we had warmed up and the glittery pom poms were handed out there was no stopping them… or the staff!
We learnt the basic arm positions which is key to any cheerleading routine and to help us remember them we played a game. Now the ice was broken we could start to get funky and we learnt a routine to the chart hit ‘Bills’.
After a quick refreshment break and a game to get everybody back together we learnt another key aspect to cheerleading which proved to be a lot of fun; assisted jumps and lifts. With all the staff involved we could send the children flying into the air and added this element into our routine.
During lunch, word got round how fun cheerleading was and the last session we had double the number of cheerleaders! We started with a quick, fun warm up, taught a routine to verse and chorus to the ever popular ‘Uptown Funk’ then it was time to get creative! In small groups they worked to create their own cheerleading routine that had to include everything they had learnt today – arm positions, formations, assisted jumps and lifts. The results were fantastic! Each group performed one at a time to show off their routine and each one was unique, lively and exciting! To finish the session we cooled down with some stretches and I left the centre with the children excited for tomorrow’s Street Dance workshop with Shanice.
I couldn’t wait to get back to Querns on Wednesday 29th July and see what they were up to with Shanice on Tuesday and collaborate Cheerleading and Street Dance. And what a day we had! It was brilliant fun from start to finish! Shanice started the session with a top to toe warm up to get everybody moving. Then we started to watch each other and follow various leaders around the room to wake up our brains. As there were quite few new faces there I hadn’t met on Monday we handed out the pom poms and used them for Name and Shape as an ice breaker and to refresh my memory of who’s who! Once we were all thoroughly warmed up we explained the main aim today. This was to create a dance piece that we can perform at the end of the session. We had chosen ‘Shake it Off’ by Taylor Swift which came from a suggestion by Jessica on Monday.
We started off by teaching a cheerleading phrase for the verse, using the pom poms and arm positions. Then street dance came in and for the chorus we learnt a street dance phrase. After practicing and putting the two very different sections together we moved on by incorporating a formation change which cheerleading is known for together with street moves. Shanice and I as leaders had great fun playing with this idea and the dancers were brilliant at doing anything we asked!
We decided on a cannon arm phrase with the dancers in lines, going in different directions so we didn’t make it easy for them! However, the next section they were in charge! In small groups we asked them to come up with a short routine using street dance and cheerleading actions. Everybody got stuck in and worked together in their group to again produce something fun and creative. In fact they were all too good to have perform at the same time in the final piece so we decided they should take centre stage a group at a time to really show off their work!
After lunch it was show time! everybody who hadn’t been involved with the workshop gathered at the front and the dancers took to their starting positions. we gave a short speech about what we had been up to and introduced the Street Dance and Cheerleading collaborative piece. Each dancer put 100% into their performance and smiled as they did so, especially when it came to their group to perform. At the end they received a big round of applause and cheer for their hard work and a participation certificate from the centre.
I would like to say thank you to all the staff for being really enthusiastic and participating to help encourage the children. I really enjoyed working with you all and meeting the brilliant young people.
Written by Sophie Fuller, Level Two TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator
A Project with Young People Exploring Choreography and Performance
The result of a one off session in the summer with the Wednesday Squad at Parkwood Youth Centre Gillingham, came a 4 week project that allowed the youth group to work together and create a dance piece for a final performance. The youth group used an AQA Unit Award Scheme for some of their activities enabling the participants to gain an accredited AQA certificate. For this project we completed the ‘Creating a Dance’ unit which focused on choreographing a dance to a chosen piece of music.
The Wednesday Squad provides activities and games for young people with learning disabilities and as soon I was walked through the door I was made to feel very welcome. As this is a fun, social club it is up to the attendees what they would like to do, so there was no pressure for everybody to participate, just those who wanted to come and give it a go. Therefore each week there were different people wanting to join in and they helped to contribute ideas to the creation of the piece. For all four weeks there were the same six choreographers and five of those performed the final dance. It was these six who gained their AQA accreditation.
Week 1 consisted of a fun warm up using the idea of ‘street’ and being ‘cool’ and it was a good chance to show off their own moves to help generate ideas for the piece. We found different ways of saying hello by using high 5’s and adding on our own movement, I discovered that one dancer was a brilliant Irish dancer, another showed off some Chinese dancing he had done at college and the others just loved to dance!
With all these movement ideas we discussed what the dance should be about and what we want to convey to the audience. The dancers all agreed they wanted to have a go at a solo to show off their skills and we talked about how each person had something different to show and how this made us unique individuals. The dancers also asked to be taught a routine so we decided that I would teach them a phrase that they could perform altogether in unison and this would convey that they are a ‘crew’, group, ‘team’.
Now we had the dance idea we got to work at structuring the piece and put together all the ideas that came up in week 1.
We had an introduction where we used the high 5 ideas and strutted on stage to meet a partner. From partners we would go into a formation and perform a unison phrase followed by a dance off which show cased everybody’s own talent and their own choice of music.
The final section consisted of using a baseball hat as a prop and we all put an action forward to create this final phrase of the dance and by performing it in unison it brought the performers back together as a group.
There was one more idea…to get the audience up and have a dance! Throughout the four weeks we tried to encourage all members of the Wednesday Squad to have a go so we thought this would be a perfect way and a way of including them in the final piece. So one dancer took it upon himself to put together and say a few words to ‘Get the Party Started!’
The final week was the night of the performance! We invited families and carers to come along and see what we had been up to and the end product of their hard work. The dancers were very excited and showed no sign of nerves at all! We practiced and made sure all the transitions between sections were perfect!
We had to come up with a title so we all sat down and brainstormed words that we thought best described the piece. ‘Unique’, ‘stride’, ‘In-Sync’, ‘Own Style’, ‘Youth’, ‘street’ and we decided on ‘Uni – Sync’.
The audience were seated, the dancers were ready, the music started and we were off! The dancers performed with high energy and everything went as rehearsed! Even at the end of the performance everybody got off their chairs and joined us for a last dance!
The performers loved it. One said ‘that was the best bit, I loved performing’, another said ‘that went really well’ and a third smiled throughout.
Reactions from the audience were great too, One Mum said ‘all his practicing has paid off’ and told us that her son’s practicing upstairs put a crack in the ceiling!! Other supporters were pleased to hear that their efforts are being recognised with an AQA accreditation.
I was sad to leave the Wednesday Squad that night as I have really enjoyed working with them all. They made my job easier as they were so enthusiastic and full of ideas every session but more importantly they worked well within a team listening to each other.
Well Done Wednesday Squad!
Here’s a video that was created automatically using some photos and videos from the performance night.