Rebecca Ashton

World Book Day – St Andrew’s School


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



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


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

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…
Click HERE for more

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World Book Day – A Week of Dance!


World Book Day is today, Thursday 3rd March 2016, but we’ve been celebrating all week and will continue tomorrow as well! World Book Day is a festival of the imagination and aims to get children reading more. There are books available to buy for just a pound and almost every school in England celebrates with things like dressing up as book characters!

IMG-20160229-WA0011The TRS Teachers have been working in four schools this week with the specific aim of celebrating World Book Day. St Mary’s Primary School have linked dance styles from around the world, as well as out of this world, to their books. Greenvale Infant’s School used Roald Dahl as their chosen author and each year group had a different book to explore.


At St Andrew’s School each year group also had a different book to explore and they included The Three Little Pigs, Kensuke’s Kingdom and Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. At Singlewell Primary School books included my favourite, Harry Potter and some fantastic movement based books, Giraffes Can’t Dance and We’re Going On a Bear Hunt!


We really enjoy our work, but knowing that people around the country are also celebrating World Book Day makes this week even more exciting. The cross-curricular dance classes are part of our ‘Educating Dance’ programme and make the dance classes we teach even more valuable to pupils, teachers and schools. The books will be explored in a fantastic new way and the pupils will be physically active and having fun learning. Personally, I’m most looking forward to hearing about the Harry Potter sessions. They are my favourite books!

I was going to write one blog post about the entire week, but there is so much to say, so many photos and so many quotes that instead we’ve separated them. Click below to be taken to the posts that the TRS Teachers have written.

Greenvale Infants School
St Andrew’s School
St Mary’s School

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In The Paper – The Supporting Role


Props In The Car!


By Steph Vezmar, Schools Dance Co-ordinator, Level Two TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

An insight into what you can find in a TRS teachers car

‘I had tinsel in the back of my car for all of December, I’m sure people thought I’d decorated the car for Christmas!’ Rebecca Ashton, Programme Director

It occurred to me recently that every time I offered someone a lift in my car, I was actually asking them to subconsciously take part in one of my dance sessions.  To give you an idea of what you are likely to face if you travel in the back of one of the TRS teachers cars, you will probably intertwine yourself with a few hula hoops (eager passengers have even have a go at hula hooping before getting in!), you’ll need to put the giant teddy bear on your lap in an effort not to squish him, you can rest your feet on the pile of bean bags in the footwell and if you are chilly then you can wrap yourself up in some of the soft ‘liquid gold’ material.  Whilst you are surrounded by various props and teaching aids, you can also enjoy the ever changing music that may pop up on the iPod shuffle, it could be anything from Glenn Miller to One Direction, to Nursery Rhymes….you name it, we have taught a dance to it!


‘Folders, scarfs, parachutes, hula hoops you name it I had it in my boot and the back of my car’ Alix Godden, TRS Teacher


So why are these props invaluable to our classes? Regardless of age, props are an exciting addition to a dance class, particularly during creative sessions.  Props bring colour and new dynamics to a session and help to encourage participants to move in a different way.  In Active Armchairs classes I often use feathers for creative tasks and many participants find the colours and texture brings a new element to their dance experience.


‘I love the feathers.  I love their colours and the challenge of trying to lift them high so they can float down to the floor.’ Active Armchairs Class Participant 2016


Stephs PropsThere is no better place to store our teaching aids than in our cars.  Only last week I was called upon to cover an Active Armchairs session last minute due to sickness, having been teaching in a primary school I wasn’t prepared for this.  However, with my office (my car!) nearby I knew I had all the teaching aids I needed to adapt quickly!  Our cars are our office.  They get us from A to B…and then onto C, D and E throughout the day.  Without time to pop home to grab props for the next class, everything we could possibly need to teach ages 2 to 102 are at our disposal.   Many of the TRS teachers are always on the go, replying to emails and eating lunch whilst parked outside the next venue…a mobile office!

All in the name of dance!

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Stress Free Freelancer – Mountain Management


Stress Free Freelancer
Busy people with many different hats… We work at strange times and we travel to multiple places every day. No wonder being a freelance dance practitioner can feel like climbing a mountain of never-ending things to do!

There are ways to control it though.The Know Your Limits blog post gave tips for controlling the build up of things to do, but once you have the to do list there you need ways to keep track of everything and, possibly most importantly, ways to make yourself reach your targets!

Manageable Goals
You’ll never feel like you’ve achieved anything if you set yourself impossible goals. Try breaking large tasks down into smaller chunks and take things on a bit at a time.

Once you have your manageable goals you have more opportunities to tick things off and that’s often the feel good factor you need to carry on to the next task. You can also distribute other carrots along the way. If you really enjoy lesson planning and choreography, decide that you can do that once you’ve finished a more arduous task first.

Catch up Time
We tend to have less teaching during the school holidays so this is a great time for a catch up. Especially if there are some big tasks to do that are difficult to fit into small slots here and there throughout the term.

Step by Step
Try not to leave things until the last-minute or until you have time to do everything in one go. You will carry the stress of knowing you’ve not done it yet and by doing a little at a time it feels like the work load is reduced.

Dancers are visual people so we need to make list management visually appealing. It’s always best to find a system that works well for you, but you could try a few different things. Colour coding could mean a code to show the length of time tasks will take, the importance of task or even the more appealing to least appealing tasks. Writing tasks into a diary on the day they need to be done is a visual way to meet deadlines and see tasks in manageable chunks. Even a little square next to each task makes things more interesting. Tick the box when you’re done!

Set Your Boundaries
This is really key to Managing your Mountain so have a peak at the Stress Free Freelance – Boundaries blog post for some more tips.

And remember, being stress free doesn’t mean you don’t care. It means you will put systems in place to allow you to get on with things, safe in the knowledge that you will be happy, on schedule and within your limits.

Good luck!

The Solar System


20160203_141406This term at Miers Court Primary School, I worked with Year 5. They had been inspired by Tim Peake’s trip to The International Space Station so the theme was The Solar System. I worked with this group last year and I knew they were very creative and talented dancers so I decided to make things a little bit more difficult for them.


20160203_133025Rather than just asking them to choreograph using the theme, I taught them about Chance Dance. Made famous by Merce Cunningham, Chance Dance produces the unexpected.

We used a dice for our dance. Working firstly in a large, whole class group, and then in smaller groups, we used the various elements of The Solar System to inspire movements. The movements were given a number (1-6 like on the dice) and then we threw the dice to find out the order. The Dice Decides!

We also used The Asteroid Belt as inspiration for a line of gestures. Each dancer took it in turns to repeat the movement of the person before them and then do their own. 20160203_150444

In week 5 we used the dice to decide the order of the whole dance. This time numbering the motifs and travelling movements (Space Walk, Asteroid Belt, Orbit and Rocket), throwing the dice and letting the dice decide the order.

The dancers did a fantastic job with the difficult task I set them. Here’s a video of the Week 5 rehearsal!

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What is Franchising?


A question I’ve been asked a lot recently!

I looked for an official definition for the word franchise and they are all quite complicated for what I believe is a simple premise. Here are some of the best…

  • An authorization granted by a government or company to an individual or group enabling them to carry out specified commercial activities, for example acting as an agent for a company’s products.
  • Franchising is a system of marketing goods and/or services and/or technology, which is based upon a close and ongoing collaboration between legally and financially separate and independent undertakings, the franchisor and its individual franchisees. The franchisor grants its individual franchisees the right, and imposes the obligation, to conduct a business in accordance with the franchisor’s concept.
  • A right to sell a company’s products in a particular area using the company’s name.

crop2YoungOldHands-1024x682To Me

For me, I think I’m using franchising as a means to an end… Dance For All. To me, franchising is…

  • A way for people to start a business quickly without having to experiment like I have for years.
  • The next step in providing career progression for Community Dance Practitioners.
  • An opportunity for me to share what I have learnt.
  • A way method to expand the company and provide more dance opportunities.

To The UK as a whole
The British Franchise Association (BFA) promotes and accredits excellence within the franchise industry. Once TRS Franchise has been running a while we aim to be part of the BFA. We already strive towards their high standards and ideals, but need our first set of franchisees to make it official.

The BFA do extensive industry research and their statistics show what the franchise industry means to The UK.

  • Annual Turnover of the franchise industry: £15.1 billion
  • Number of franchise brands in the UK: 901
  • Number of people employed by franchising: 621,000

The industry is still growing.

Hopefully that outlines what franchising is in general. To find out more about the TRS Franchise opportunities specifically our website is and it will be available to view from our launch date, Wednesday 27th January.

Look After Your Feet!


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!

Wash, dry, moisturiseIMG_4165

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…

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.

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,


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

My Week at TRS


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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