Rebecca Ashton

Halling’s New Frock?

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In 2016 we launched a Christmas Facebook Competition for schools to have the chance to win half a day of Educating Dance classes. Halling Primary School won and chose to hold their free sessions during Book Week! Georgie went along to deliver the classes.

Written by Georgie, Level Two TRS Teacher, Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator and Educating Dance Teacher

Hallings new Frock?

51gT8Mcf0-L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Today I went to teach two dance classes for year 3 and 4 at Halling Primary School. As it was Book Week, I decided to focus on a book the year 3 class had been reading; Bill’s New Frock by Anne Fine (1980’s).
It’s a story about a boy who is your typical boy – loves football and doesn’t like girls, but one day he wakes up and he is a girl! He has to wear a pink frock and he learns throughout the day what girls have to go through. I know, a bit bizarre! The children knew so much about it they helped me understand the story better!
I taught a short phrase which explained the story, so we started off asleep and woke up as normal Bill. We then went to school, played football and headed home. When we went back to sleep, and this time when we woke up we saw the dress, and we were horrified! The children had such great facial expression for this part. I then asked them to help me to correct extra movements which included; throwing our dress on the floor, mum telling us off, and sulking in our dress.
Next they got into groups, and I handed each group a pink scarf. They had to make up their own movements using the scarf. They could dress up in it, do some of my phrase with it etc. When we showed the dances, they were fantastic! Each group had such different ideas, and we had some fabulous frocks!
Even though year 4 hadn’t read the book, they really grasped the idea of it and fully got involved. Some of them even said they were going to go and read the book now!
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Halling Primary school and was so impressed with all their hard work.

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On The Wall!

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It’s always great to hear the good things said about our classes, but it’s even better to find out that a care home is so pleased with them they’re sharing photos of the sessions with residents, family and friends. This is what happened at Mayflower Care Home where Steph, Rebecca and Georgie have been delivering Active Armchairs, Circle Dance and Active Armchairs One to One. The photos below were found on the wall, but there are also some in the home’s brochure!

Active Armchairs in the main room. Steph is dancing with a resident as other watch. This is a great chance for the facilitator to get to know individuals!

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Active Armchairs One to One means that everyone has the chance to dance and interact with our facilitators. Here Steph has been invited to a resident’s room and works with an individual in one of the living areas as well. Such a rewarding time.

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Some more photos of One to One Active Armchairs sessions with Steph. This time there are some family members and friends present. Everyone is welcome to join in if they want to. There’s also a photo of some local school children doing cheerleading with residents. It’s great to see them dancing even when we aren’t there!

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And here are some of the things that have been said about our time there…

“That class was fantastic, all the residents enjoyed themselves, we cannot wait until next week.” Amy, Activities Co-ordinator, April 2016

“I found that, during the Circle Dance class, there was a story and I grew a bond with every resident. The circle and interaction are great for that and it gives the session a real feel good factor. One resident didn’t really fancy dancing at first, but after a particularly jolly piece of music that seemed to appeal to her she said “That was lovely. Thank you for coming. I like to dance and I can Cha Cha, you know!”. She grabbed my hands and was off. Another resident chose to stand to dance without her frame. The circle and supportive care staff allowed her to do this. I could tell how happy this made her. At the end of class she had to check with me that I would come back again soon. Introducing the Liquid Gold prop for cool down allowed staff and family members to dance with the residents. This always leads to beautiful moments. A son thanked his Mum for their dance. It was lovely to see.”
Rebecca Ashton, TRS Teacher after the first Circle Dance session, November 2016

It’s really nice to have so many things happening each week. We can build excellent relationships with the residents, staff and family members (some of whom regularly attend) and can tailor the sessions really well. We’re all looking forward to the sessions continuing for a long time.

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Street Detectives

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By Georgie Tedora, Level Two TRS Teacher and Educating Dance Teacher

This term I was working with Year 2 at Miers court Primary and I had already heard such great things about this school from Rebecca, no pressure taking over her wonderful work! Year 2 were looking at their local area and what they had around them and so we became street detectives!

We started with our warm up, ‘Inspector gadget’, where we incorporated some street dance moves. In the warm up we went on a journey to see what places we could find, we came across a; park, church, school, leisure centre, post office and finally a supermarket. Each place had a different action to it for example we stamped at the post office, and reached to the top shelf of the supermarket.

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We drew our own maps! After talking about the countryside (having squiggly lines!) and the town centre (having straight lines!) each group decided what map they would draw. They then created their dance by following their own maps. They used different levels to create movements from one road to another. Year 2 were very creative with this, we even had some frog jumps and army crawls!

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Our group piece was an element of surprise to us all. The children chose 4 places at random, and 2 modes of transport for our travel. We then choreographed our big routine using ideas from the previous dances but also some more movements of their own. We had a long supermarket line with one group and they were all scanning items at the checkout. The other group created a fantastic park, where some were the roundabout, some were swings, and even a climbing frame! The train popped up in both routines, but we also had a bicycle and a bus!

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We had so much material, when week 5 came along for our structuring lesson, the dance was around 10 minutes long each!

Show day came around so quickly and they were fantastic. Each group really performed, we had some great facial expressions when we were detectives! The children did so well to remember all their material and I am very proud of them!

It was such a pleasure teaching year 2, and I can’t wait to teach my next group at Miers court Primary.

Enjoy the video!

 

 

 

 

 

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Fitness Tips

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Steph and I have a bit of a fitness focus at the moment (we’ve been training teachers at Balfour Infants School!) so we thought we’d share our TOP FIVE TIPS AND IDEAS for getting fitness into the dance class.

1_green-svgExtend it bit by bit:

Teachers can add a little more onto the warm up each week to increase stamina and fitness levels. Perhaps doing an extra count of 8 each week or adding an extra stop in a Circuit Warm Up.

What’s the Circuit Warm Up??
A warm up that gives pupils ownership of their movement and encourages them to work as hard as they think they can.

  • Go around the room showing dancers the pictures / objects and the movement that relates to them.
  • Dancers are divided between the stops on the circuit.
  • When the music starts pupils do as expected for their stop.
  • Teacher signifies when to move to the next stop on the circuit.
  • Continue this process until everyone has been to every stop.
  • If time, ask pupils to choose their favourite stop and try to do even better than last time (competing against themselves)

Here’s our dinosaur example!
Diplodocus stretch, Iguanodon strength (plank), Confuciusornis flying jumps with wing arms, Eoraptor speedy run on the spot, Ankylosauras tail swing (laying on tummies swinging legs), Tyrannosauras partner balance using short arms (glueing elbows to tummies)

Or you could ask the pupils for movements instead!

The photo on the right is the Diploducus stretch!

 

number-2-clipart-dc6aeamc9Sneak in the Healthy Living Knowledge:

Teachers can talk about changes to the body after a particularly vigorous warm up and ask questions like, what do you notice about the heart beat?

If you’re extending the content each week (see number 1) noticing an increase in stamina would fit perfectly. What about food for a healthy dancer?

 

number-3-clip-art-at-clker-com-vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-j2uq8g-clipartThe Fitness Six…

There are so many warm ups, games and cool downs that require a selection of different movements. The Circuit Warm Up, Plates!, Travel/Stop, Sets of Eight and the list goes on. Next time you use one of these warm ups why not try using one of each of the following? It will force the movements to be varied and the dancers benefit from all the different areas of development.

Strengthening, Balance, Cardio, Agility, Stretch and Teamwork

imag4543What is Plates!??
This is an extremely versatile warm up that can also be done as a game or a section of warm up if the teacher prefers not to use all the warm up elements in it. The teacher will need to use paper plates with small pictures and a few words on them to represent each movement.

  • Go around the room with the dancers placing the plates in spaces and explaining the movements. The items on each plate must relate to the theme.
  • Dancers space out in the room, away from the plates.
  • When the music starts the dancers move around the room.
  • When the tea
    cher waves the tambourine or shouts ‘plates!’ dancers go to the nearest plate and follow its instructions.
  • The next time the teacher waves the tambourine or shouts ‘walk’ pupils go back to walking around the room and so on.

Our Animal Opposites (High and Low) example:
HIGH: Giraffe Tip Toe Balance, Flying Eagle, Frog Jumps
LOW: Wiggley Worms, Clawing Tiger, Spikey Crab

In the photo… Our Medieval Castles (Castle Parts):
Battlement Jumps, Butress Counter Balance, Drawbridge Press Ups (adapted for pupils’ level for safety), Swimming in The Moat, The Tower Stretch, Rampart Star Jumps

 

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Choreograph It In…
When it comes to the choreography section of a class or workshop, sometimes the pace can slow. To keep the fitness focus why not set tasks that encourage the dancers to include certain movements?

  • Ask the dancers to include at least one jumping movement.
  • You could use The Fitness Six of the 5 (or 6!) basic actions.
  • Give them a time limit for their choreography (see tip number 5)
  • Add an opposites theme such as fast/slow or high/low.

 

5Use Music to encourage fitness…

There are obviously some songs that lend themselves to being used in a fitness focused dance class (carnival songs, drumming, instrumental pop or hip hop songs), but there are also other ways to use music to increase fitness in the dance class.

  • Zorba the Greek is a song with a clear beat. It starts slowly and gets faster and faster. Even just using it in the background during choreography can make dancers work faster. Try putting a set of eight easy movements to this music. By the end it will be difficult, really silly and a lot of fun!
  • The Countdown Timer is a famous sound clip and you can get the 30 second long one.
    Why not set a task such as create the starting position, play the song and then move onto the next task straight away. This way the dancers have to work fast so choreography can be completed really quickly, but it also gets them excited! Dancers created the freeze frame on the right in 30 seconds and even included levels and thought about hands and heads!

 

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Pound Shop Christmas Props

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Why we love the pound shop!
by Clare Wilders, Level Two TRS Teacher and Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator.

As dance teachers we are always looking for innovative ways to spice up our dance classes. From using YouTube videos to show a piece of choreography, pictures so children can visualise the theme of our class, to props to give the actual dance element of the class more impact. In fact in our Active Armchairs classes, a prop is a compulsory element to the class, bringing an added element of interaction and assisting older people in maintaining their dexterity.

In an ideal world we would have an unlimited budget to use for our props, however as self employed teachers, we have books to balance, so a little creativity goes a long way.

Many an hour can be whiled away shuffling through bargains in the toy department, or as I was this morning, wandering up and down the Christmas aisle of the pound shop looking for potential Christmas props for my Active Armchairs classes next week.

I found some items with potential. I nearly bought a whole bundle of Christmassy cat teasers… with feathers, santas and little bells on each, only to find that they tangled up really easily just hanging up. Imagine the delay to my class trying to drag them out of my dance bag after they had turned into the inevitable spaghetti of strings and santas!

Finally I settled on a few random items showing potential:

In previous classes I have borrowed the TRS “Jingle sticks” with great success, and these are inspired by those, but a little different. Using a pool noodle, we could have a softer “stick” element so they could easily be patted against a hand or leg.

So far so good:

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I also found some wreath hangers that bore great gold bells… so of course the Cat got little curious:

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Things were looking jingly. A touch of gift ribbon, and the results are below. I can’t wait to try them out to “Jingle Bells” next week.

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Moon Zoom

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20161123_150650This term I worked with Year 1 at Miers Court Primary School. Moon Zoom was our theme and we used their class book, ‘Man on the Moon’ by Simon Bartram as inspiration for some of the motifs.

The dancers began by doing a warm up about Bob’s commute to the moon and some Rocket jumps. They did leaps, feet together jumps, hops and many more. Their jumping improved as the term went on, as did their stamina!

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We did some moon walking. They moon walked on a difficult pathway, but got the hang of it. They impressed me even more when we had to change the pathway on the day of the performance because there was staging out in the hall!

 

20161124_1334450Each class made a giant rocket with their bodies and they choreographed Alien Motifs in small groups. They did really well as this is the first time they’d ever choreographed a dance sequence in small groups. Some of the movements were hilarious. We had aliens that couldn’t control their tongues, aliens with many legs and some had ‘random wiggly bits’.

20161124_145430In the 5th lesson we put everything together to make one, very long dance. It wasn’t meant to be 10 minutes long, but they really got the hang of slow floaty moon walking so it just took longer!!

The performance was fantastic. They were very brave, remembered to smile and did really well to remember the movements as, for the first time, they didn’t have an adult performing with them.

As always at Miers Court Primary, I had a fantastic term, but this one was extra special and moving. This was my last before maternity leave. Level Two TRS Teacher and Educating Dance Teacher, Georgia Tedora will be taking over from January. I’m sure she’ll have a wonderful time!

Here’s the Moon Zoom video!

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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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We’re a Healthy Business!!

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On Monday 23rd November 2015 the TRS Teachers sat down to an unusual All Hands Meeting (the six monthly get together, celebrate and plan the future meeting). It was the start of a year long journey to become a healthy business and complete the criteria in the Workplace Wellbeing Charter.

workplace-wellbeing-charterThe TRS staff were asked to fill in a questionnaire about their health and wellbeing. Answering questions such as approximately how much physical activity do you do in a week (a lot!) and do you feel stressed in your job role (yes!)? The Medway Council Healthy Business Team, who supported us throughout the process, put the information into their computer and we received a document that showed us where we could improve and what we were already doing well (notably celebrating our staff and their achievements).

I got straight onto it.

I gave the policies a huge overall and all of the TRS staff gave feedback and started to work with the new policy and procedure documents throughout their TRS classes. We had to implement Absence Management from scratch, we improved our Healthy Eating policy and we worked hard to put procedure in place for when TRS Teachers have to be away from work. I’m very proud of the policies now, they are much better than before and I feel they work for us and the people we work with.

Stress was identified as an issue for TRS Teachers. Although they all agreed they love their jobs and that the stress isn’t down to the job itself, they felt they could do with some support. Many staff members felt the stress was due to putting pressure on themselves, it wasn’t actually an outside pressure and often wasn’t something that should worry them at all. I started to gather ideas for reducing stress and wrote the ‘Stress Free Freelancer’ blog posts. Bex, our volunteer administrator created a Health and Wellbeing Folder that’s available for all TRS staff and is full of information. We also had a stress focused All Hands Meeting in May and Steph, our Schools Dance Co-ordinator, shared some practical strategies to deal with stress.

The Charter has three levels and we were aiming for the first, commitment, level as we are a very small business compared to some involved (entire councils and hospital trusts!). We were so pleased that by the end of the process we had gone much further than expected and have reached the second tier, achievement in almost all areas and even got to the third tier, excellence in two areas (smoking and physical activity). Perhaps we’ll be back to pick up an excellence award in a few year’s time!!

Aworkplace-wellbeing-charter-commitmentlmost a year on we had managed to get our evidence folder in order and it was presented to the Medway Healthy Business Team to check it through. Georgia, Steph and Bex were interviewed to check that we were actually doing as we said we were and we waited to see if we had reached our commitment goal! 20161117_213833_001

On Thursday 17th November 2016 (almost a year since we started the process), Georgia, Steph and I attended the Healthy Business Awards and had a fantastic evening. Businesses were from Kent as well as Medway and there was a lot of great work to celebrate. We heard of potato competitions, an office dog that staff can take for a walk around the block instead of going for a smoke and a group of staff from one firm who have turned their lives around and now run for charity. 20161117_213538

20161117_210349I would like to thank Michelle Saunders from Medway Council, who helped us throughout the process and all of the TRS staff members for their support and patience. It can’t be easy when you’re given new policy and procedure documents to follow (there was a lot to read!). I do hope they’ve felt a positive affect as a result of this process and I look forward to continuing to develop the company with our wonderful staff in mind.

 

 

For now though, let’s celebrate with our brand new trophy!!

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Gods and Goddesses

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This term Miers Court Primary welcomed back the school year with a Gods and Goddesses theme. Georgie and I had the pleasure of teaching Year 3 and we’ve really enjoyed ourselves. This was their third show so they knew what was expected and they totally stepped up to the mark.

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The six weeks have flown by, but we’ve gotten so much done! The first thing the classes learnt was their warm up. I taught them a warm up dance to Zero to Hero and we had a lot of laughs being strong and powerful. We talked about the differences between a hero and a God and then moved onto our God Motifs.

 

Each group had a different God or Goddess to teach the rest of the class about. They had to use the facts to choreograph movements and, once finished, they showed their motifs to the rest of the class and told them about their God or Goddess. Everyone worked really hard and there were some fantastic ideas. Favorites included Poseidon’s dolphins and the lightening of Zeus.

At the end of the first lesson both classes learnt about Mount Olympus (home of the Gods and Goddesses) and made a giant class shape to represent it. There were high, middle and low-level shapes and everyone had a different position to remember. For a bit of fun in the next five lessons, they had to rush into their Mount Olympus shape as they arrived. I only gave them one minute to co
me in, shoes and socks off, then into place. They somehow managed it every time!

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The final three sessions before the show were devoted to myths. The whole class wrote a myth all together. There were pot luck cards to choose from so that each class had a setting, two characters and something extra. It turned out they both had Hera’s peacock as the something extra and for some reason both peacocks were quite mischievous! Other than that, both Myth Motifs were very different.

We spent one lesson rehearsing and bringing all the motifs together to form a long dance. It was a huge amount to remember, but both classes rose to the challenge and, as the audience saw in the final lesson, they did really well. Not only did they remember the dance, but they remembered to use different facial expressions to show when they were being the strong hero, Hercules, and made energy flow throughout their bodies, even to the tips of their fingers.

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I’ve really enjoyed working with these dancers again. I see an improvement every year they come back and it is great fun. Here’s the auto awesome video, an automatically created video of photos and video footage from one of the rehearsals.

 

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