Categotry Archives: TRS Projects and Events

Enhance – Active Armchairs Sessions

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Written by Steph, Level 3 TRS Teacher and Level 2 Active Armchairs Facilitator.

It’s been a long time in the planning but the Enhance classes have arrived, and we are now already a few weeks into teaching our first classes! 

Together, myself, Rebecca and Katie planned each of the sessions before any classes began. Group planning ensured that we are all covering the same content in our classes and allowed each of us to have a creative input into the sessions. It’s always great to chat to other teachers about activities, dances etc that they might have used in other classes so sitting down together and sharing our ideas has ensured that we’ve brought all of our best bits together. 

In terms of the class content and approach to teaching the research project classes, we have exactly the same approach we do to every single Active Armchairs class. Nothing differs in the research project classes to ensure our work is authentic as possible. Participants still have the choice to join in, we make adaptations to suit the group (regardless if that takes us off piste from the plan), we make adaptations for the weather (very important for our recent heatwave!) and ultimately our participants at the centre of everything we do. 

We decided to start our block of tested classes with a few of our Active Armchairs classics. These are generally the songs and dances that we would use for a taster session because of their popularity and sing along worthiness! Thus our first theme was aptly named ‘Golden Records’.  The theme features songs such as ‘Delilah’, ‘Shake Rattle and Roll’ and ‘I love to Boogie’. Delilah in particular is a great sing along song, and during my first class whilst I was teaching the movements to the dance the whole class erupted in song acapella! This was shortly followed by an excited participant expressing their love for the song! “Oh we love that song!” Shake, Rattle and Roll is another popular song, and a personal favourite of mine. We use brightly coloured shakers for this dance, creating different rhythms and sounds before breaking out into song and choreographed movements for the chorus.  The shakers not only bring lots of colour and different sounds into the room, they also encourage more prolonged movement. The effect of this was certainly clear in one of my classes when a participant expressed how the movement made their body feel…”Ooooo my arms, they’re having a great workout. We were all having so much fun shaking and singing we didn’t realise our arms and muscles were busy working!”

It is always exciting to take Active Armchairs classes to new venues and participants. And the classes so far haven’t been without numerous magic moments, brightening everyone’s days, including ours! Seeing participants enjoy themselves in the moment is truly special, but knowing they are eager to get going again the following week is equally as rewarding… “When are you coming again, make sure you come back…we want more of that!”

As we have now completed our first theme, ‘Golden Records’, we are now onto our next exciting theme, ‘Summer Garden’. Watch this space for the next installment of Enhance classes, celebrating all things wonderful in the Summertime! 

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Enhance – The Story So Far

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For those of you who are new to the TRS blog, welcome. To those who visit regularly,  I’m so excited to have this new strand for you!!

We have officially announced our brand new and exciting project, Enhance, although it’s been in the planning stages for over a year now. The team and I will be writing blogs throughout the project and I thought I’d start with an intro about what we’ve been doing so far. It’s been a journey with many twists and surprising turns that have lead us to something that Alice and I never expected when she first said to me, “I’ll do some Active Armchairs research.”

The very first step on this journey was to speak to the TRS Teachers. Alice and I chose the All Hands Meeting for this and we all mind mapped, drew, talked and got enthusiastic. The most important thing to come from this was that the participants should always be considered first because their well being is at the centre of everything we do. We talked about what is important to participants of Active Armchairs and ways in which we could carry out tests that would be most appropriate to them.

As I had a lot of experience with dance and project management, but little with research, I felt it would be a good idea to speak to some experts. I also went along to some events to find out more. Places and people who have influenced the project along the way include Medway Healthy Weight Summit 2018, Scott Elliot (Head of Medway Health and Wellbeing Services), Patricia Vella-Burrows (Pricipal Research Fellow, Sidney De Hann Research Centre), various staff members at University of Kent, Medway Dance Network and Medway and Kent Dance, Arts, Culture Health and Wellbeing Symposium. Without all of this input the project wouldn’t be what it is today.
 
Alongside this, Alice and I set about working out exactly what we wanted to ask. We settled upon the following questions.
 

I also decided to make the study as ‘robust’ as possible. I’ve become very used to the word, robust, as researchers use it a lot when they’re doing high quality research! It is important. The NESTA standards of evidence were recommended to me and I thought this was a great way to ensure people could trust the outcomes of the project. I’m hoping we will reach the very highest standard.

It also became apparent that there is a surprising amount of dance research out there, but it isn’t easy to find. I want the outcomes of the project to be easily found, understood and utilised, and I have some ideas in mind. As well as the report being available to all, we are also going to have a training day for Active Armchairs facilitators. This will be an unusual opportunity for everyone to get together, discuss, develop ideas and share practice. Alice and I will also be sharing how the results will influence Active Armchairs.

Somewhere in amongst all of this I met with Ian Farr, PhD Student at University of Kent. His work allies beautifully with our research aims and this was when the project began to swell and strengthen. Ian has an academic interest in the health and well being of older adults and how psychosocial factors may influence physical performance. His research will be completely independent of anything The Right Step do to ensure objectivity and to avoid bias. Simply put, we run classes and he does research about it. I won’t be there when he carries out any aspect of the study and he won’t be attending any classes.
 
After this we needed to find suitable care homes. They had to meet a few different criteria, but long story short, the chosen 5, who are kindly giving time and energy to make this happen are Ashley Gardens, Barton Court, Little Court, Warwick House and Woodstock. I’m sure their staff and residents will love the 20 Active Armchairs sessions we have planned for them!

We also have 3 facilitators, Steph, Becca G and I will be visiting on a weekly basis, except on testing weeks, and we can’t wait to get started. We’ll be planning sessions together and adapting them to the group each week.

We have a detailed plan,  we have the right people and we have the places. Next we will start the project. Research has just begun and sessions begin soon. We’ll keep you up dated, but do let us know what aspects of the project you want to hear about.

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2018 Roundup

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We have been busy bees in the office in the run up to Christmas. As well as celebrations taking place, we’ve had newsletters and Christmas cards to design, print and send. We’re feeling very Christmassy already and can’t wait for Christmas jumper day on Monday (look out for the photos!)

Our newsletter has been going out in all of our classes recently and is also found in the many Christmas cards that Becca and I sent on Monday. We hope everyone who has had the chance has enjoyed reading it, but I’m sure there are others out there who don’t have one so… we have included a copy below for everyone can have a read. Enjoy! Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

 

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Querns All 4 Fun Dance Workshop

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

All For Fun’ is a summer holliday activity club for young people aged between 5 – 18years. They run Monday – Wednesdays for three weeks and provide activities such as arts and crafts, football and the week TRS went; dance.

I (Sophie) went in on Monday morning 27th July to liven the club up with some cheerleading! The children were a bit apprehensive at first and were reluctant to join in but once we had warmed up and the glittery pom poms were handed out there was no stopping them… or the staff!

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Arms!

We learnt the basic arm positions which is key to any cheerleading routine and to help us remember them we played a game. Now the ice was broken we could start to get funky and we learnt a routine to the chart hit ‘Bills’.

After a quick refreshment break and a game to get everybody back together we learnt another key aspect to cheerleading which proved to be a lot of fun; assisted jumps and lifts. With all the staff involved we could send the children flying into the air and added this element into our routine.

During lunch, word got round how fun cheerleading was and the last session we had double the number of cheerleaders! We started with a quick, fun warm up, taught a routine to verse and chorus to the ever popular ‘Uptown Funk’ then it was time to get creative! In small groups they worked to create their own cheerleading routine that had to include everything they had learnt today – arm positions, formations, assisted jumps and lifts. The results were fantastic! Each group performed one at a time to show off their routine and each one was unique, lively and exciting! To finish the session we cooled down with some stretches and I left the centre with the children excited for tomorrow’s Street Dance workshop with Shanice.

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Streety Cheer

I couldn’t wait to get back to Querns on Wednesday 29th July and see what they were up to with Shanice on Tuesday and collaborate Cheerleading and Street Dance. And what a day we had! It was brilliant fun from start to finish! Shanice started the session with a top to toe warm up to get everybody moving. Then we started to watch each other and follow various leaders around the room to wake up our brains. As there were quite few new faces there I hadn’t met on Monday we handed out the pom poms and used them for Name and Shape as an ice breaker and to refresh my memory of who’s who! Once we were all thoroughly warmed up we explained the main aim today. This was to create a dance piece that we can perform at the end of the session. We had chosen ‘Shake it Off’ by Taylor Swift which came from a suggestion by Jessica on Monday.

We started off by teaching a cheerleading phrase for the verse, using the pom poms and arm positions. Then street dance came in and for the chorus we learnt a street dance phrase. After practicing and putting the two very different sections together we moved on by incorporating a formation change which cheerleading is known for together with street moves. Shanice and I as leaders had great fun playing with this idea and the dancers were brilliant at doing anything we asked!

We decided on a cannon arm phrase with the dancers in lines, going in different directions so we didn’t make it easy for them! However, the next section they were in charge! In small groups we asked them to come up with a short routine using street dance and cheerleading actions. Everybody got stuck in and worked together in their group to again produce something fun and creative. In fact they were all too good to have perform at the same time in the final piece so we decided they should take centre stage a group at a time to really show off their work!

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Showtime!

After lunch it was show time! everybody who hadn’t been involved with the workshop gathered at the front and the dancers took to their starting positions. we gave a short speech about what we had been up to and introduced the Street Dance and Cheerleading collaborative piece. Each dancer put 100% into their performance and smiled as they did so, especially when it came to their group to perform. At the end they received a big round of applause and cheer for their hard work and a participation certificate from the centre.

I would like to say thank you to all the staff for being really enthusiastic and participating to help encourage the children. I really enjoyed working with you all and meeting the brilliant young people.

The Sirens Photographed

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Nikki Price Photography received a private performance from The Sirens of Cetham Team when she came to photograph them before their River Festival and Big Dance performances in July 2014. We’re so pleased she braved the weather because her photos, as always, are fantastic.

This album contains just a few of her photos, these are The Faces of TSOC. Keep your eye out as we will post more in the near future.

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Three Events, One Exciting Day

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In 2014 Big Dance, The River Festival and Medway Open Studios all fell on the same day, Saturday 12th July. As a result we joined so many other people for a spectacular Saturday.

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Our first part in this special day was a performance by Ginny and Maude. This time they were at the seaside for a hilarious adventure involving indecision, ice cream, Charleston dance and lots more! The Mayor was present and was amused to receive one of the very special comics drawn by Richard Squarecube. Richard is an artist based at Sun Pier House and, as well as his comic, his Ginny and Maude painting was hung on the pier and his Sirens of Cetham water colour could be found in the Big Dance green room. I’m so pleased our dance performances have inspired him so much!

ActiveArmchairsNext for us were dance workshops. I had just enough time to squeeze in an Active Armchairs workshop that I co-facilitated with Georgia. Active Armchairs in the sunshine, on the pier, beautiful! Georgia also lead a very popular Creative Dance workshop and fellow TRS Teacher, Alix was there with her dance company, AMG Dance, so she lead a workshop too!

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As if that wasn’t enough, we then entered The River Festival’s domain for a spectacular performance of The Sirens of Cetham. The promenade between Big Dance and The River Festival was long. The sirens and musicians got tired in the hot sun, but it was well worth it as they collected the audience up with their haunting sounds and intriguing presence.

The performance at The River Festival had a huge audience. I was pleased to hear that one mum said, “My son is normally all over the place, but he sat still and watched captivated. When I asked if he wanted to see something else he said no and he stayed for the whole piece. Fantastic.”

Then I walked back as the promenade went back to Sun Pier and Big Dance for yet another performance. This time the audience had been warmed up by The Big Sing. 12 minutes later, and the final performance was over. Luci Napleton who organised Big Dance 2014 in Medway thanked everyone for coming. I would like to thank Luci for doing such a brilliant job and for including us in so many different ways.

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Throughout the day I did get a few chances to see other things that were going on. The water displays were especially exciting. A jets ski flipping record attempt and a man doing dolphin dives with water shooting out of his boots and propelling him into the air. There were boats and barges everywhere. The tea room in Sun Pier House was packed. The Artists of Sun Pier House had multiple displays of their work as part of Medway Open Studios. In the Sun Pier House Gallery Kent Association for the Blind (KAB) and edna had an exhibition of art and photography. So much to see and do!

I took lots of photos and video footage during the day and was pleased that my phone made an Auto Awesome, a video automatically made of randomly selected photos and video, very clever! So many people, organisations and mythical creatures featured, Big Dance, The River Festival, The Edith May, Silversmith Dance Theatre, Ginny and Maude, Richard Squarecube, Sun Pier House, Jacob Bride, Sophie Wophie, KAB, Active Armchairs, The Dance Community, Luci Napleton, AMG Dance, Medway Open Studios, edna, Dementia Friends, The Sirens of Cetham, Jet Stream Tours, The Big Sing and many more!

 

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Sirens Emerging from the Mists

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I think our Sirens’ storm conjuring was just a little too successful, having created a whole pile of grey clouds for our dress rehearsal yesterday!

It was a cold and sorry group that walked the promenade, with drizzle threatening, for our final run through in full costume and make up.

And our final practice storm calling must have been even more successful as later in the day, thunder rolled around Rochester with snaps of lightning splitting the sky. Oops… sorry chaps.

This morning we woke to mist! A hazy blanket had wrapped around us through the night, so we crossed our fingers and hoped that the July sun was strong enough to steam it all away for our actual performance.

Sirens SelfieWe Sirens gathered in our home for the day (The Right Step offices) and proceeded to warm ourselves up and prepare for the performance ahead. Below us by the pier, the River Festival was starting to take shape; guys on jet skis looped the loop, ships fired out great blasts of water and an amazing chap was defying gravity with an incredible water jet pack system allowing him to fly like Iron Man using water for propulsion.

We saw the little AMG Funky Ballet dancers performing their hearts out on the pier itself as part of the Big Dance weekend as well as Ginny and Maude taking their delightfully quaint trip to the seaside. A true medley of dance genres unfolding beneath us.

Meanwhile we were being transformed from mere mortal dancers with the usual aches and pains into our mythical alter egos… the Sirens. With every layer of lace, every brush of make up we were venturing deeper into our characters.

Finally, transformation completed, it was time for our promenade… we were being marched to our rock… where we were to be banished for eternity. With the heavy drums and mournful singing from our leaders, it was time to walk. And amazingly, the sun had started to creep through the grey… perfect timing.

The performance tells the tale, how we emerge, seduce, call the storm and then recover the next day only to realise that this is it, we are to repeat the story over and over! We are stranded forever, never to love again, never to feel again… banished to our rock. A tragic tale indeed. And true to the story, we repeated it all again back on Sun Pier for our second performance of the day.

Sirens in the Storm

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Rehearsal

Our final rehearsal with the sirens was in their favourite type of weather, rain!

We were lucky enough to be joined by our musicians, Jacob Bride and Jamie Godfrey, and to have vocals from the lovely Sue Coxon. They promenade with the sirens from Sun Pier House all the way to the grass under The Mayor’s Lawn.

Jacob Bride also composed the music and with Jamie’s help they played the many instruments and produced it too! A multi talented pair!

Our fantastic costume developer, Rosie was with us, making sure the sirens’s kept their jewels in the right places and don’t squirrel them away, we know they like to do that!

Siren EyesNikki Price, the siren’s favourite photographer, was present to capture it all. We are very thankful to Nikki for the fantastic photos she took last year, I’m sure you’ve seen them, and can’t wait to see this year’s photos too. I’m sure they will be quite a contrast, one set in beautiful sunshine and the next in cloudy weather!

Even with the weather, the rehearsal went really well and I’m looking forward to everything taking place at The River Festival and Big Dance on Saturday.

See you there!

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Conjuring up the Clouds

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So for someone who lived in the Sinai desert, you would have thought that I would know how to protect myself from the sun’s rays. But… no… after our first day’s rehearsals in yesterday’s glorious sunshine, there was a distinctive glow to my face and shoulders by evening.

So… day two saw us all slathered with sunscreen!

Of course the clouds knew this, so decided to fill the sky for us… haha one surplus bottle of factor 20 now sitting in my bag. Hmmm… me thinks we may have been a little too successful with our conjuring up of the clouds yesterday.

Day two saw us finishing the last two chunks of choreography. Sophie had her spritely, child-like section to work on and I my emotional realisation of our plight. Jacob’s dramatic music combined with Lorraine’s insightful words and my over-active imagination resulted in me genuinely feeling quite choked.

All ready for the dress-run tomorrow!

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Sounding the Siren

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Day one of our rehearsals for the Big Dance Sirens of Cetham event at the weekend and we were fittingly, by the water.

The Sirens and our lovely choreographer Lorraine gathered on the grass by the Mayor’s lawn to begin the creative process. Gathering our thoughts on our terrible situation… banished at sea to a lonely rock from which we are to lure unsuspecting sailors to their death for eternity.

SirensSo we worked our bodies into seductive mode, “singing” the siren’s song through dance… me the matriarch and probably the one most aware and devastated by our current situation together with my fellow sirens, the spritely, young, blue siren and the ultra seductive, red siren.

Moved by the dramatic music created by Jacob Bride we breathed our breath and worked our bodies into the movements… early days yet… more to come tomorrow.

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