Rebecca Ashton

A World of Dance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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TRS Teacher Of The Year Awards – The Winner!

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Towards the end of 2014 the TRS Teachers had a lovely Christmas meal to celebrate their brilliant year. The meal was made even more fantastic because I was able to announce the winner of TRS Teacher of The Year 2014!

Georgia and I choose the four nominees back in November and since they were announced the TRS Teachers have been getting their votes in. Click HERE for a list of the nominees.

The Winner of TRS Teacher Of The Year 2014 is…

Clare Wilders_Winner

  • Clare has been on the TRS team less than a year, but has already done so much!
  • She receives and tells us about lots of participant feedback. It’s always fantastic!
  • Clare always stays in touch, emails back promptly and lets us know what’s going on.
  • Clare put herself forward to help with our social media presence and since then has been our social media genius! She’s put so much into it, not only time, but also new ideas and she even led a TRS Training session for us.
  • Clare’s been involved with so many extra events, she really gets stuck in. To name a few… The Sirens of Cetham, The Rats Bay Shindig, Big Dance (in the photo), All Hands, Christmas dinner, Croquis and the list goes on and on!

 

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Santa Fun Run 2014

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TRS Teachers with Santa (the real one)

Today was the 2014 Santa Fun Run and we were there to warm the Santas up before their run down Rochester High Street.

Each year The Rotary Club of Medway organise The Santa Fun Run to raise money for Demelza and Chyps, two very deserving charities. Money raised allows them to give the holiday of a live time, a trip to Disneyland, to disabled children and their families.

 

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Kayleigh leading the warm up

The day was great fun. KM FM were there with a fantastic playlist. They were also very helpful and played our music for us. There were warm drinks served by the Rotary club and there was even entertainment; this year provided by the Distinction Twirlers dressed in pink Santa outfits and Twirley Shirley (their panda mascot).

 

TRS Teacher, Kayleigh led the warmup this year. She was joined by Rebecca, Gemma and Sophie as well as Two members of the KM FM team. It really is amazing when that many Santas get together to warm up!

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The Santa Fun Run Medal

 

After the warm up we went to the finishing line to cheer the Santas back in. They all received a beautiful medal, a running Santa. Well done to all involved!

Last year there were 500 Santas, this year 1000. Let’s see if we can get to the 2000 mark next year!

 

 

Here’s the Auto Awesome video of our visit to The Santa Fun Run!

Croquis Events Taster Sessions

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November 2014 was the month to try out Croquis!

With Richard Squarecube, we held three taster sessions at Sun Pier House. There were different dancers to sketch each week, lovely refreshments and plenty of arts materials every week. We thought it might be nice to blog in photos as that’s really going to give you more of an idea of what Croquis is…

Taster One, ‘An Introduction to Croquis Events’
The very basics, it was really about everyone learning how to relax into it!IMG_7192 IMAG5211 (Medium)

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‘It’s wonderful to have such a vigorous energetic session. It makes us respond without thinking too much about it. You can draw instinctivly then. It’s an instinctive reaction. ‘
Jenny, Artist

Taster Session Two, ‘Explore Croquis in your Own Way’
Artists who now understood Croquis a bit more brought their own materials to use, Richard bought us all a Croquis badge, we added a prop and did a dance focusing just on hands to add interest.

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‘In situ, you have to go with very broad strokes in order to capture the essence of what’s going on, but the lack of time cuts out self censure and you end up with images that you’d never draw if you had more time. I love it, it’s unlocked something in me that I never even knew was there.’
Ray, Artist

Auto Awesome Video of Croquis Events Taster Two…

 

We were in the paper!
http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/2014/11/28/in-the-paper-croquis-events/

Taster Event Three, ‘What Can We Do With This?’

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The Wednesday Squad

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Written by Sophie Fuller, Level Two TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

A Project with Young People Exploring Choreography and Performance

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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.

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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’.

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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!’

IMAG4567 (Small)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!

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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.

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Everybody Active, Every Day

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An evidence-based approach for national and local action to address the physical inactivity epidemic from Public Health England.

An epidemic? Is it that extreme? According to this research it really is and I think dance is part of the answer, of course I do!

 

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Did you know children and young people should engage in 60 minutes to several hours of physical activity everyday. For adults, only 21/2 hours a week. And for older adults it’s the same (more Active Armchairs please!)

What can we do to help?

– Could dance clubs at schools for children and adults be the answer?
– Should there be more physical activities available to fit into a busy work day, perhaps at lunchtime?
– What about YouTube videos you can dance without leaving the house, perhaps dancing as a family??

 

What ideas do you have?

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I’m especially interested in physical activity for older adults. Many of the Active Armchairs Facilitators are also trained in other forms of exercise for older adults such as Chair Based Exercise and Circle Dance. These are the findings about older adults…

 

For older adults (65-plus years):

  • Older adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits, including maintenance of good physical and cognitive function.
  • Some physical activity is better than none, and more physical activity provides greater health benefits.
  • Older adults should aim to be active daily. Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of ten minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least five days a week.
  • For those who are already regularly active at moderate intensity, comparable benefits can be achieved through 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity spread across the week or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
  • Older adults should also undertake physical activity to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week.
  • Older adults at risk of falls should incorporate physical activity to improve balance and coordination on at least two days a week.
  • All older adults should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary (sitting) for extended periods.

The document calls for organisations to lead by example and we plan to do so. Where shall we start, any ideas?

For more about Everybody Active, Everyday please click here…
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/everybody-active-every-day-a-framework-to-embed-physical-activity-into-daily-life

Medieval Castles

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This term I’ve been working with Year 2 at Miers Court Primary. Their topic for the term is Medieval Castles and, in dance, I chose to focus on parts of the castle and a Medieval style sequence dance that the pupils could perform at a special event at the end of term (more on that later).

Castle Parts
Battlements, towers, buttresses, draw bridges and moats, every part of the castle had a movement or shape in warm up and a different movement or shape for cool down. There were also bows to “THE KING” and Jester jigs. I was pleased to hear from Miss Baldock, one of the year 2 teachers, that whilst in the classroom learning about jobs in the castle, the children were able to tell her what the Jester’s job was.

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I taught some sequence dances, The Pavanne, The Circle and The Chain that I adapted so they could be performed as one dance. At the end of term there will be a medieval style Banquet held for the Year 2 classes. Entertainment will be the dances they’ve learnt and choreographed with me.

Photo: Ready for the Pavanne

Freeze Frames
In groups, The Great Hall, the draw bridge, the ramparts and the portcullis were turned into freeze frames. Year 2 learnt that to make a good freeze frame you need to use different levels, facial expressions and interesting hands and feet. Then they added linking movements to turn their shapes into a motif.

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I’ve had a fantastic time working with Year 2. I think they’ve learnt a lot about medieval castles as well as dance. They’ve come a really long way. The first week they found it hard to do the step together in The Pavanne. By the end they had a whole dance of step togethers! They should be very proud of themselves.

The photos are in our gallery (http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/gallery-2/medieval-castles/) and here’s an automatically created video, an Auto Awesome, about the project.

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