Rebecca Ashton

Balfour Infants – SUMMER SHOW!

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Year 2 have been taking part in dance club at Balfour Infants School for two years. They have been a pleasure to teach, a group of kind, fun and caring dancers. We’ve choreographed dances about all sorts of things including Dr Who Aliens, Creatures from Under The Sea, Castles of all types, Magical Creatures and much much more.

In Spring 2016 we began work on their summer show. The dancers picked some of their favorite dances and warm up games and together we decided which would go into the dance. Of course Frozen, our ice themed dance, and the dinosaur dance were included as well as many others. I then mixed the music together to create one, very very long piece of music.

The next term was spent straining memories, deciphering my notes, choreographing transitions between dances and changing formations to make everything look just right. The dancers did so well that the dance was looking really good at the start of the summer term.

It was looking so good that I thought they could learn an extra dance. I added it to the music and this time choreographed the whole thing myself. Usually the group have a lot of input so learning complicated formations requiring a lot of team work and a very fast paced chorus with exact timing was a challenge for them. We also ended up with two strange lessons without many dancers in one or me in the other so it was a mixed up term, but they were brilliant, as usual, and they did it!  Best Song Ever became a firm favourite with the group and I know they did a lot of practicing at home to remember it all so thank you parents for your patience!

Show day came and we finished the dance by adding the bow. It was now ten and a half minutes long! We did two full run throughs before 9am followed by the two performances. I was very impressed with their stamina and they stayed smiling throughout.

As the audience members know, this was my last show at Balfour Infants. I’ve been teaching their morning dance club for six years and have loved every minute. I felt so welcome in the school that I also became a School Governor. I will be moving home soon and can now announce that I’m expecting a baby. These changes mean that I won’t be able to continue the classes myself, but I leave the sessions in great hands. Katie, one of The Right Step’s wonderful TRS Teachers will be taking over from September. I’ll still be around though, I’ll come to visit!

As always, I’ve produced a video of the show. I’m sure they agree that they did a spectacular job. Especially as these dancers are only in Year 2!

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Querns All4Fun!

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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!!  

Thank you for having me Querns! 

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Balfour Juniors – SHOW!

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Written by TRS Teacher, Alix Godden

Balfour Juniors performed a variety of dances to their families this term, and they were fantastic!

Three dances were performed : Star Wars, and the songs ‘7 Years’ and ‘Light It Up’. They performed these without any help from me and worked well together to make sure they kept in time with the music as we worked on this in our class time!

For the last 2 terms we have worked on learning choreography to Light It Up and creative tasks based on partner Puppet work and the Star Wars theme!

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Light It Up:
A fast paced street dance that included floor work. The dancers worked hard to remember the movements and transitions in this dance . They had fun learning new ‘freezes’ and street based moves.

7 Years:
The dancers had loads of fun choreographing their own duets using ‘puppets’ as their stimulus. We also looked at the words of the song to help convey the story of the song. They loved learning a new lift in the dance and sharing their ideas with each other. The dance had a start, middle and an end. The puppets  showed their masters controlling them at the beginning and then showed them dance independently to finish. In the dance off they reunited with their masters and reversed their original puppet dances to finish in the starting positions .

Star Wars:
The children absolutely loved doing this theme! We started sharing ideas about Star Wars and thinking about some of the moves you would do with a light sabre. From the corner they had a creative task to travel to the light sabre in a ‘Star Wars’ way and then create shapes with the light sabre . Each dancer had a turn and used some of the moves in the dance.  The children then got in groups to connect their moves. Slowly we built up our own ‘Star Wars’ story ending with Cree winning the sabre and freezing all the other dancers!


Balfour dancers loved learning all the different styles we covered and were really excited to perform. I was very proud of the dancers and am sad to see two of them leave this year to go to secondary school. They have been with me since year 3, but I wish them all the best and hope they keep dancing! Now I’m looking forward to next term and to meeting all our new TRS dancers!IMG-20160713-WA0000

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Journey to the Island

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The Whale

 

This term the Reception children at Miers Court Primary School learnt about journeys, the sea side, transport and under the sea animals this term. They also used their best imaginative skills to choreograph their own dance about all the wacky things on their island! We were also joined by TRS Teacher, Bex.

 

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Who has the tallest sandcastle?

 

The first week I taught the children a warm up dance to Beside the Seaside and we talked about the things we need to do to prepare for the sun shine and a visit to the beach. They also learnt movements for each of the under the sea animals and we put them in order to make another under the sea warm up.

 

 

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The Rocket and The Train

 

One of the highlights for me this term was seeing how the children created their own forms of transport in small groups. They began with a freeze frame and then gave it little movements to make it even more interesting. They all took on this challenge really well and Bex and I were very impressed.

 

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The Walking Shark

 

The main choreographic task involved stretching our imagination. The Island that we journeyed to could have absolutely anything on it. At first we had normal things such as animals and plants, but then things got wacky and we included a walking shark, a game of hide and seek and a gigantic fish tank full of sea creatures.

 

The dance performance was their first at Miers Court Primary and the dancers did really well. At the beginning of term we didn’t expect them to remember everything, but they impressed us by ‘thinking what’s next’ whilst they danced. I’m looking forward to being back in class with them in the years to come.

Practicing the ‘Dancing Smile’!

20160706_13564820160706_144147This is the automatically created video of photos and video footage from one of our rehearsals, the outdoor rehearsal!

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Predator Vs. Prey

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20160518_140324Year 3 have been learning about food chains, how predators have developed to catch prey and how prey protects itself from being eaten. They’ve learnt key words like habitat, producer and consumer and have discovered that there is a lot more to animals than cute fluffyness! We brought the theme into dance class and have had a fantastic time exploring food chains from four different habitats, Dessert, Woodland, Seashore and Ocean.

“I’ve had lots of fun learning how to dance. I liked that it was about our topic.”

Toby Hopkins, Year 3 pupil at Miers Court Primary School

Warm up explored how prey protects itself. There were movements about spikes (year 3 even saw a porcupine when they went to the zoo!), hiding, fleeing, shells and threatening behaviour (such as the skunk wiggle!). Cool down was about Predators with lots of reaching, stretching, creeping and, right at the end, pouncing!

“We have really enjoyed seeing Rebecca teach the dance lessons to our classes. She has some fantastic ideas and is brilliant with the children. The end result has brought out the children’s creative ability and really enhanced their understanding of our topic of food chains.”

Miss Lewis and Mrs White (class teachers)

20160518_141934We worked towards the end of term performance, choreographing in the first 4 weeks, focusing on movement quality in the 5th week and rehearsing and performing in the final lesson. For each of the first 4 weeks there was a different habitat and food chain. I set tasks that the dancers had to interpret in their own way or as a group. Here are some examples…

20160518_140138The Cactus: This was the very first Producer we looked at. It was in the Dessert food chain and it is a plant. The cactus protects itself with its spikes so the group made spiky movements. This was also the very first movement in the dance so they stayed absolutely still at the beginning and then changed to movements that were quick, jerky, jagged and small.

The Eagle, Owl and Seagull: These are predators and they all appeared at the end of our food chains. The dancers were doing really well and I knew they were up for a challenge because I worked with them last year on Tudor Dances so I use the three birds to teach the groups a little about motif development. They choreographed three movements for the eagle. In the next lesson we developed these into movements on the spot for the owl and, in the third lesson, the group moved as one around the room to be the sea gull. 20160518_140548The Killer Whale: This was the very last item in our dance and it became the ending position. It was a shape rather than a movement, but the dancers did have to work on their transition from seal to killer whale. I said the them, “We’re going to make a giant killer whale using everyone in the class. It’s tail will be here and it’s head will be here. What other body parts do we need?” Each group had different ideas, but we ended up with two whole class shapes containing eyes, ribs, fins, teeth and other parts.

“It has been really fun to learn how to be animals without making a sound. I liked showing people different animals using movement.”

Isabelle Pearson, Year 3 pupil at Miers Court Primary School

In the last lesson before performance we focused on movement quality and the dancers learnt the difference between describing what the movement looks like and describing its quality and how it feels. By the end of the sessions they had really got the hang of it and both groups performed to camera spectacularly. One dancer said to me “It’s better than normal dancing because I can feel how the animal feels.” They completely embodied the food chairs and worked amazingly well as a team, flowing through the dance and moving seemlessly between the producers, consumers and Predators.

The dancers have been great fun to work with and have performed beautifully through out. I hope they’re really proud of themselves and their class team. I hope I get to do this theme again one day as it’s been a really good one!

Here’s the Auto Awesome video, enjoy!

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Stress Free Freelancer – Mind and Body

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Stress Free Freelancer

I’ve had the pleasure of working more closely with the TRS Teachers the past few weeks and I’ve been finding out what they do to keep their minds and bodies happy. It’s clear that to be stress free you must have a happy mind, but the body is just as important.

 

 

Some need to spend more time keeping body and mind happy than others and the approaches are varied. The activities aren’t necessarily all completely separate to work either; there are mixed areas, as you might expect from people who have turned their hobby into their job.

Coffee and cake
Indulging alone whilst thinking and people watching. Being mindful and calm as you think through your current situation.

CPD
Continued Professional Development is being used, not only to further careers or point them into new directions, but as a recognised avenue to a happy mind, and often, body.

Training sessions are incredibly useful, inspiring and fun! Sharing ideas and gaining reassurance throughout our practice helps us to grow and develop constantly.
Stephanie Vezmar, Schools Dance Co-ordinator, TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

Massage
Often a necessity for a dancer’s body, but when used as a regular or preventative measure, massage can become relaxing. A time for contemplation with the underlying satisfaction that the dancer’s body is benefiting.

Pilates or Yoga
Popular amongst dance teachers, this is an opportunity for the body and mind to work together. An often gentle workout and a time to be alone with thoughts. Once they have the basics, this isn’t always completed in a class, but often alone at home.

Read a Book
When we were young, school asked us to read everyday. Do we still do that? Finding the time can be a challenge, but if you carry the book around short 10 minutes count.

Just a short list of the things discussed recently. Why are these things needed though? Some reasons are negative, reasons such as stop pain, needing time to get away or to reduce crackley muscles and joints. Other reasons are more positive, enjoyment of being active, extension of the mind or body’s limits or trying something new.

There is one key reason that applies to all of these things (including some CPD), relaxation.

How often do you relax?

A big thank you to all the TRS Teachers who’s brains I have picked for this post. The list above will make it quite obvious to some that I’ve stolen your ideas!

Dino Dancing

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This term’s Educating Dance classes at Miers Court Primary were ‘big’ in so many ways. From the fact we were studying Dinosaurs (some are very big!) to the number of activities and length of the finished dance, it was all fantastic and I really enjoyed myself.

I was immediately surprised by the number of dinosaurs the group could name. Our starter activity was a quick fire name the dinosaur game. Each class had to name as many as they could in just 1 minute. The first time we averaged 8. By the end of term we reached 14 in a minute. Most could even say Confuciousornis and Ornithomimids by the end!

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Warm up was all about the role of a Paleontologist. In cool down we nursed eggs. I showed the groups a photo of what a dinosaur nest could look like and we pretended the liquid gold looked just like it.

 

20160330_140207In between the dancers choreographed movements about dinosaurs. Three movements each for six dinosaurs meant a huge amount to remember, but they did it!

We also played Dinopposites. I showed the groups pictures of tall, short, heavy, light, fast and slow dinosaurs and, in pairs, they choreographed their own movements to represent the dinosaurs. We learnt how, in creative dance, everyone in the room can have a different idea though each pair knew their own movements and did the same week by week.

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I think this has been one of my favourite themes to work into a cross-curricular dance class. I didn’t know much about dinosaurs before I started and had to do a lot of research. Then I had plenty of ideas and the children seemed to enjoy it all.

I’d also like to thank the Year 1 adults who have helped throughout the term. They have excellent memories for dance and were a tremendous help when it came to filming! I hope they are just as proud of their classes as I am!

Some of the video footage and photos were made into a short ‘movie’ by Google Auto Awesome and it can be viewed below and on YouTube.

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Stress Free Freelancer – Calm Those Nerves

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Stress Free Freelancer
Nervousness is something that dancers are familiar with. The chances are that every dance teacher has experienced nervousness just before a performance. Back stage, sweaty palms, forgetting the first move, needing the loo when you only just went. Everyone experiences it differently and most dance teachers have learnt how to manage stage fright.

 

Nervousness as a community dance practitioner can be a very different thing. It might happen just before class or a new exercise (“oh no, what comes next!?”) It might be that the mountain of admin is the scary bit so it gets put aside (see Mountain Management). It might be driving nerves or what if? nerves. Whatever the cause there are things that can be done and I’ve put a few ideas here. I suffer from nervousness in a big way because I always think too much. These things have helped me, but it’s important to find what works for you as well.

The Deep Breath
Yes, we’ve heard it before. Take a deep breath before moving on. It works though. Last Thursday I sat at lunch with some other business owners. It was clear we were all having a stressful week for one reason or another and that meant everyone was a bit tense. I called upon my dance training, we sat up straight and lifted our arms as we took a deep breath in. As we slowly lowered and breathed out I noticed that my (very cooperative) colleagues were quite surprised. Conversation flowed more easily after that. The breathing moment made us happier.

Solve The Problem
Often we worry for a reason that can be solved. Perhaps you’re putting something off or think you have too much to do? Solve the problem and the nerves will go. You might feel proud of yourself too. If you feel there’s too much to do you could solve the problem with a list. Wonderful things that often show you there’s less to do than you think!

Distraction Technique
Do something different for a few moments. Perhaps you’re nervous because you’re thinking too much or because you have wound yourself up? A couple of minutes of distraction won’t hurt your schedule as much as dwelling on the nerves will so find the distraction technique that works for you. Some ideas…

Dancing!!
A few yoga poses
Laugh
Phone a friend (or fellow dance teacher)
Walk (not even out of the house, just to a different room will do!)

Get Some Sleep
Lack of sleep can cause a vicious circle of nerves and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. A really fantastic trick, one with scientific underpinning and that I believe in, is the 4-7-8. This can also help if you have a late evening class and find it difficult to wind down. Among other things the 4-7-8 slows your heart rate, clears your mind and relaxes you. Breath in for 4, hold it for 7 and breath out again for 8. Count slowly though! It’s tempting to breath more quickly than this, but don’t and you will be rewarded with sleep. There’s lots more information a quick Google away so have a read before you try it.

Whatever the cause of your nervousness it’s so important to choose a solution that fits you and your situation. And if nothing seems to work you can always embrace the nerves and use them to your advantage somehow. One things for sure, nerves tend to scare you into working harder and producing better results!

The final thing I’ve learnt… a lot of the time anxiety is formed from a combination of thinking to much and an over active imagination. With this knowledge it becomes (slightly) easier to reduce the nerves.

So next time you’re feeling anxious about something find something that works for you and try to combat it.

Good luck!

Cheerleading – Go Byron Go

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Written by Stephanie Vezmar, Schools Dance Co-ordinator, Level Two TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

“The Right Step… So it’s like my next step into learning to dance.”
Participant at Byron Primary

Byron Primary have a fantastic Friday afternoon set up whereby every child can select two different clubs where they can acquire new skills, build new relationships and discover hidden talents.  The Right Step have previously offered Street Dance and Creative Dance sessions to their club list, but this term we were asked to provide a cheerleading club….and what fun we’ve had!

The children have enthusiastically responded to their cheerleading sessions, often eagerly telling me their stories of how they have been practicing the steps throughout the week in anticipation of their next class.

The T

We begin each class with a structured warm up helping the children to raise their heart rates, stretch their bodies and strengthen muscles.  Following this we then set to work on learning some of the basic cheerleading motions.  The children have learnt motions such as ‘T’ and ‘High V’. Over a period of 12 weeks the Cheerleaders have developed these basic motions into a fantastic routine combining cheer steps, group formations, travelling patterns and of course a lot of pom pom shaking!  We even have our own Byron school cheerleading chant!

As the children have developed in confidence throughout the term we have also started to learn some basic stunting focussing on team work, supporting each other and maintaining strength and balance.  It has been wonderful to see the children grow throughout the term and this has been demonstrated in their own choreography.  In small groups, the children have been able to structure their own cheerleading routines, using cheer motions and group formations to demonstrate not only their acquired knowledge but also their creative talents.

What a fantastically fun term we’ve had! #GoByronGo

If you are interested in holding a cheerleading workshop or series of classes then contact Stephanie at stephanie.vezmar@therightstepdc.co.uk and we will be more than happy to help.

Hand Made Props

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IMAG6836Props add value to our dance classes. They make our classes colourful, more exciting, noisy… The list goes on. They can be used with people of all ages and abilities and props can help TRS Teachers adapt dances to the needs of the class.

The Right Step has a collection of props available for the TRS Teachers to borrow, but some of the best props are the ones the TRS Teachers have made themselves. I’ve collected a few of the teacher’s ideas here…

“Well that brightened up our morning” Joan, a participant at Rochester Care Home, December 2015

Stretchy Strips and Flying Fish
The Active Armchairs facilitators know all about Clare’s stretchy strips. Made from bits of trousers, they are used like ribbons, but they are stretchy. She also cut up squares of colourful material to make ‘fish’. By far some of the most colourful props, they are also great for the imagination.

IMGP9500The River
I made this prop a long time ago for Changes in The Current, a FUSE Festival commission, but it’s still going strong. Sophie found lots of blue material. I cut it up and sewed it together to make a 3m by 1m piece of material. There was blue thread all over the house while I was making it, but it was worth it. It still gets used even now. Steph took it to her Kensuke’s Kingdom workshop and used it as the sea at St Andrew’s Primary a few weeks ago.

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Tights
Technically not made, but definitely re purposed… Sophie brought the tights to our Active Armchairs sharing day and we a great time. It felt silly and fun and brought lots of colour to the room. Thankfully we were using the office after hours so the other office users didn’t wonder what was going on. Cheap and fun, key when making your own props.

 

20160105_124644Tights also came up quite a long time ago, I’d had an idea after the edna project and working with Wendy Daws. They still don’t have a name, but the other facilitators helped me make them. Rings, circles, tights things, shadow makers. Who knows what they should be called!

 

Stephs EggsSteph’s Eggs
These are one of Steph’s favourite props. Really versatile and friendly to all different types of hands. Steph filled the eggs with rice and stuck colourful tap around to keep them together. They’re great for rhythms in a sound themed cross-curricular class or at Active Armchairs to give those who don’t want to dance something to do.

 

Sticks
I spent a lot of time and great care making my sticks! I wanted them to be smooth so that they didn’t hurt people and I wanted them to be versatile so that I could use them with various things. Some of the participants in my Active Armchairs classes, particularly the men, like to hear about how they were made and then talk about the things they’ve made in the past.

“We had a really in depth study of the care you had taken to make your jingle sticks at Montgomery Court the other week! They were all very impressed with the fact that there were no snags and that the bells had been carefully tied on with elastic, so that they could be removed if needed. Your ears must have been burning! In a good way :D” Clare, TRS Teacher

How were they made? I got some dowel, cut it into lengths, spent a long time sanding them down individually, washed them, varnished them (twice!) and then tie ribbons or bells to them. They are great for rhythms in Sound themed classes or as Jingle bells at Christmas!

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Ribbon Sticks
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Sensory Sticks cropped

Georgia made her Sensory Stick props so that they were all different. Each one contains a garden stick and is covered in cotton wool and material, but they have their own personalities! One has buttons, one is furry, one has bells and one has plastic underneath the material so that it crunches!

 

That was just a small selection of the home made props. There are many more!

 

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