Rebecca Ashton

Look After Your Feet!

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Look After Your FeetYou may have noticed that there’s a theme running through The Right Step, there are feet everywhere. We have feet in our logo, feet on our marketing material. We even have a Pinterest board about FEET!

We believe in dance at any age, for any ability and that means our dancing feet come in so many different shapes and sizes, but they all have something in common… they need looking after!

Your feet go through a lot. For most people they carry the weight of your whole body. For dancers they can go through hell in Pointe shoes, twisting during a pirouette or sliding across floors. In schools dancers are often found in school halls, stamping on unsuitable, very hard floors. As we get older we have to deal with pains, bunions, arthritis and all sorts of other foot issues.

They are obviously a very important part of us, so here are some tips for looking after your feet!

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The simplest thing you can do to look after  your feet. Most people miss the second two though. This will prevent fungal growth, things like Athlete’s foot, stop odour and reduce hard skin.

Toe Nails
Cut them regularly, this is especially important to stop them getting caught in dance. Be careful not to cut them too short though as you may cause more harm than good.

Foot MOT
Yes, it’s a thing! The NHS advises that people aged over 60 have a professional foot MOT every 6 months to keep their feet happy and healthy. Also, Age UK have a toe nail cutting service in someparts of the country.
More about foot care for older people… http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Staywellover50/Pages/Foot%20care.aspx

Knuckling Under
That’s the pop, crack and snap you hear as you curl your toes under. Common for dancers, but now a good thing. There are mixed messages on clicking joints, but in feet it’s best to avoid knuckling under (curling the toes under your foot) to crack them.

Massage
A foot massage feels great and, if done before and after class, is really good for your feet. It helps to warm up, relax and loosen muscles and synovial fluid (in your joints). You can do this with your hands (although an arch roller feels nice if you have one). There are lots of tips about foot massage on the internet and there are many types, but I’ve found this one that seems to cover the basics, http://www.wikihow.com/Give-a-Foot-Massage

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Enjoy your massage and good luck keeping your feet in tip top condition!

My Week at TRS

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Written by Emma Godden

As a final year dance student at The University of Surrey, I knew it was time to venture into the big wide world and what better way to do this than by gaining experience of how a professional dance company works. There is nothing more nervous than starting a new job, but with the help of Programme Director, Rebecca Ashton, she made it more than welcoming. As I have never worked in a dance company, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The atmosphere throughout the office was very inviting, and whilst being introduced to other members in the office, I slowly became more relaxed and confident.

Once discovering the ins and outs of the company and what classes they teach, I helped Rebecca plan an Active Armchairs session, with the theme of 80 days around the world. Active Armchairs is a session based around seated dance classes, with all choreography specially designed for the participants. Later that day, I ventured out of the office to one of the many care homes TRS teach at within the Medway area, Heatherdale Nursing Home. Being the first Active Armchairs session I went to, I aimed to see how it was run. One key aspect that I picked up, was the positive attitude Steph (the class leader) had throughout the entire session, remaining calm, inviting and praised all the participants continuously. Observing her was a joy and has benefited me massively when discovering teaching styles.

The following day, after joining in at another Active Armchairs session at Winchester House, I went to Miers Court Primary School to meet Rebecca. Aimed at Year Five for this term, a Cross-Curricular class helps benefit the students by engaging them within dance and movement, whilst learning about a particular topic. For this term the topic is the solar system. Rebecca ran through her class structure, the outcomes for the term and the activities that will be undertaken throughout each class. Seeing how Rebecca planned ahead, and had the classes prepared and laid out, was a real eye-opener, as you don’t usually see what happens behind the scenes.

20160107_101850On Thursday, I had few hours spent in the office. I was set the task to arrange the endless amount of props within the company, by counting them, taking pictures and then placing the information into a spreadsheet. Having this list allows for the company to easily discover what
props they have and how many of each prop are available, before trying to find them.

If I was to sum up my week here at The Right Step Dance Company, I would firstly like to say that it has been a friendly welcome into the Company. All the staff, which I have had the pleasure of meeting, have opened up and taught me many aspects of the working life within the Company. It has been a pleasure to meet a range of people, and it has been such an eye opener to how a company works, whilst being fun and at times a good laugh. You never quite know how much work and effort it takes to run a Dance Company, let alone working within one, and therefore I am very grateful for Rebecca and the rest of the staff for allowing me to join for the week, with a positive and welcoming atmosphere.

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10 of The Best for 2015

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Stress Free Freelancer – Know Your Limits

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Stress Free FreelancerWe’ve all done it… We’ve said yes too many times and found ourselves swamped with work. I did it, took on a full time job in a shop because I needed to and then worked for dance companies in every spare hour because that was what I was interested in. I burnt out.

When I moved to Medway I made a pact with myself and set my rules (see my previous blog post). I also had a better idea about my limits. Here are some of the things you can do to stop yourself going over the top.

So here are my tips for avoiding the burnt out, over tired feelings…

Stick to the things you enjoy
It will make you happy and will help you keep your work load down. Plus, work is less tiring and you’re enthusiastic about it.

Leave time to plan
If you know when you’re going to do your planning you don’t have to worry about it and ideas might just spring into mind in the meantime. Plus, if you plan well you’ll be proud of your lessons and that will make you feel good.

Learn to say sorry, no
If it doesn’t fit, say no. It’s fine to do that. You can always recommend someone else. No one person can do everything!

Don’t under sell yourself
Dance teachers deserve an hourly rate they can live on. It sounds obvious, but we’re so often asked to work for so little. If you earn a good amount of money you can work less hours. The Right Step fights for this, it can be done!

Variety is important
Don’t teach all of the time, it requires a huge amount of energy. Admin is important too. Try teaching a few different types of classes to find the balance between planning lots and getting bored of teaching similar lessons all the time.

Saxons Vs. Vikings

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This term I worked with Year 4 at Miers Court Primary School and our theme was Saxons and Vikings! They were a fantastic group, but I knew that because I taught them last year as well.

We got stuck in straight away and in the first class the dancers choreographed motifs about Saxon job roles in small groups. They were surprised to learn that had they been growing up in a Saxon village they would have just a few years until they had to take on one of the jobs.

The second session focused on Saxons in the evenings… Story telling, the great fire for heat, cooking and light and the celebration.

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Then there was a battle. We used call a response to choreograph a motif across the hall.

In the final few lessons we focused on Viking Gods.Each group had a different God sheet and had to show that they were Gods by performing their movements in a strong, powerful way.

20151202_141436I knew these groups were great at choreography because I worked with them last year. They didn’t disappoint! I made things more difficult for them this year by giving them lots of contrasting themes and asking them to thing about how they performed each one. They also had to think about transitions and there were many fantastic ideas for this including giants from the stories, flying up to the Gods and walking through the mist (something they were also doing in drama).

20151202_141700 cropThe dances were a team effort, even the teachers got involved and, when I was filming, I noticed them doing the movements with the dancers out of the corner of my eye. Excellent work!

At the end of term parents, friends and siblings came to watch the dances and the performance was excellent. All I did was turn on the music and thank the parents for coming. The dancers knew exactly what they were doing and were fantastically professional about it all.

We did do some silly things in the lead up to Christmas though, you have to enjoy the end of term! We introduced the Saxons and Vikings to Christmas and the dancers wore silly hats to perform their dance for the cameras. The video made it into the Miers Court Primary School advent calendar (number 10) and here it is to view as well. If you like it, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Christmas Newsletter 2015!

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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.

Christmas Newsletter 2015

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Medway Dance Network – Winter Meeting

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MDN9… A busy meeting to hear about national big events as well as the usual networking discussions and, because it’s Christmas, mince pies! There will be discussions about U.Dance Medway and Big Dance 2016 and how you can encourage others to get involved. So please join us to have your say, find out more and hear how you can be a part of dance opportunities in Medway.

Tuesday 15th December, 1 – 3pm
At The Tea Room in Sun Pier House, ME4 4HF

If you would like to know more please email Rebecca info@therightstepdc.co.uk

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How To Press Release

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Press Releases
We can all use all the tips we can get our hands on when it comes to press releases. It’s really important for small businesses to get the word out in local papers, but what’s the best way to do it and how can we stop our press releases going in the bin?

Last year I took part in some press release training run by NKTS (North Kent Training Services). I found it extremely valuable and once I knew the tricks of the trade my press releases started working. The Right Step ended up in the Medway Messenger at least every other week. It was fantastic until I ran out of time and stopped writing them.
Fast forward to this year and Medway Dance Network (MDN) hosted a meeting with a talk from Emma Dewhurst, editor of WOW Kent Magazine. She gave us insight into what she likes to receive in a press release. Some things were different to those mentioned in the NKTS training, just personal preference, but there were many useful things running through both.

Heres are the top tips that came from both. Useful and realistic things that I hope will help.

Basic Structure
Send your press release within your email and also attached to it. Then post a copy on colourful paper too. Different people like to receive press releases in different ways and this covers the lot!

If you’re not sure what to write, this basic structure should help.

Press Release Number: Just in case you need a reference

First Sentence: This is NOT a headline, but do write it in bold. This should be a descriptive sentence that includes key words about things readers will want to read about. Some of the buzz words we use are community, school, older adults, arts.

Main story: Keep it factual and concise. Remember, they may copy it word for word so be careful about how you are writing.

Quotes: Always include something, even if it’s you saying it.

Photographs: At least one landscape and one portrait, don’t crop because they can do that and they have to be good quality (very few mobile phone cameras are good enough). Put them into your word document and attach them to your email.

Further Information: Say if theirs an opportunity for one of their photographers to visit and mention who they can contact for more information.

Facts: Provide some extra facts about your company such as started in… Or proudest moment. These might be printed next to your article or they might use them for something else at a later date.

The Personal Touch
Know who you are sending your press release to and name them in your email. If they recently printed an article from your press release thank them. They will be pleased you have read it and appreciate what they’ve done.

Timing
The Right Step usually has what some people might call fluff stories. Things the paper uses to fill the gaps between exclusive and big news. There’s nothing wrong with that, sometimes the community news is much nicer to read! It does give us a hint on when to send our press releases though. Our local paper, The Medway Messenger goes out on a Friday. This means I send press releases on a Friday. They’ve already finished the paper for that week and they are probably looking for fluff stories to full the paper before the big news comes in.

What shall I write?
I can’t tell you that exactly, but I do have a few dos and don’ts!

Don’t write the headline, that’s their job
Do be clear and concise
Try not to be biased, do be factual
Do give your press release a focus and try to think about what people are interested in.
Do check your press release for spelling and grammar mistakes

Most importantly though, you have to send something! If you don’t then, like me, your stories will stop being in the paper at all!

 

See some of the articles about us here…
http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/category/office-news/press/

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Medieval Castles, 2015!

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This term I’ve been working with Year 2 at Miers Court Primary Schools. The theme was Medieval Castles and I’m so proud of how hard both groups have worked, it’s been fantastic.

20151014_150020We began learning castle parts using our warm up and cool down. Each castle part (battlements, buttresses, ramparts, drawbridges, the moat and the great hall) had its own movement, stretch or shape and we even had a Jester dance move and bowed when The King arrived. We played a game to make freeze frames about different parts of the castle and used the countdown music to make it more exciting.

Soon we had plenty of movement material all about castles!

20151014_140701We did more than that though. Each lesson I taught the dancers a little section of Tudor themed dances. In the end we had The Pavanne, The Chain and The Circle. I showed them pictures of the clothes the Very Important People (VIPs) might wear to dance in the castle and they learnt how the clothes would affect their movements.

Towards the end of term we put everything together to create a dance. They’d worked so hard that it was a lot longer than I’d expected. We had a practice show which was filmed (the video is below!) and some school staff watched too. Miss Bulldock nearly cried because she was so proud of her class!

The last week was show week! We had a short rehearsal and then performed to adults and some younger brothers and sisters. Some school staff even crept in to watch. The performance was made extra special because the children had dressed up in Medieval costumes for the day. They’d had a banquet in the morning, made castles and then came to dance. A busy day!

I’m really proud of both classes. They worked really hard to choreograph and perform their dances brilliantly then they sat and  watched each other as though they were a perfect, grown up audience.

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Here’s the video of one of the rehearsals. It was automatically created using some of the photographs and footage from that day!

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Why Franchise?

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TRS Franchise LogoLast week I was told what my two passions were and this got me thinking about why I’m franchising The Right Step. It’s a big undertaking and a huge investment of time and money so what are my motivations? It soon became apparent that I have lots and lots of reasons and they all get me very excited!

So here, in no particular order, are the first ten.

  • It’s not as difficult as some people think so I want to teach people how they can run a business too.
  • I’m a workaholic and this is the next natural step.
  • I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far and I want more people to know about it.
  • I’d like to give other people the opportunity to progress their career. I’m lucky to not have to work every hour of every day if I don’t want to. The business model allows me to do that so I’m going to share it with other dance practitioners.
  • Someone said “I wish I could do what you do” three years ago and ever since then I’ve been formulating my plans!
  • I believe dance should be available for all. We’ve achieved this locally, it’s time to roll it our everywhere!
  • I’ve done a lot of work and I want more people to benefit from that.
  • I want to expand my company.
  • I’d like to make more work for more dance teachers.
  • I spent five years with the current team at The Right Step working hard through trial and error. It’s time to put our experience to better use and help out some others.

And the two passions in my life?
1. Everybody should have the opportunity to try dance because it makes people happy.
2. I want to give other dance artists the chance to progress their career as I have.

I think they were quite right!

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