Tag Archives: creativity

Improvisation

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The TRS Teachers are always excited by new ideas and trying new things. We recently had our sharing days and the TRS Teachers met for the All Hands Meeting on Monday too so this has been even more apparent.
 
Improvisation is the term used for spontaneously moving. The movement isn’t choreographed, it is usually very creative and it almost always leads to an unexpected and exciting outcome.

Why Use Improvisation?

Improvisation can be used just for fun. In our Educating Dance and creative dance classes we often use improvisation to help find movements around a theme that can be used later in choreography. We can also use improvisation or brain health.
 
It has been proven in both recent and quite old studies that dance is great for brain health. I think the first time I realised just how good dance is for the brain was when I read ‘Use it or Lose it: Dance Makes you Smarter’ by Richard Powers. A fascinating article about a major study that found dance questioned whether physical and/or cognitive recreational activities were affective in protecting against dementia. The only physical activity that proved affective was dance.

The article (read it here: http://socialdance.stanford.edu/syllabi/smarter.htm) goes into greater depth and there is a lot to be said on this subject, but for the purpose of this blog post I will focus on one element… I believe that one of the reasons for the protection dance offers against dementia is the fact that improvisation often plays a key role in dance. Thinking on your feet whilst also taking part in physical activity and, therefore, with the respiratory system working harder seems to have great benefits. Quick thinking, random thinking and making decisions that are not carefully planned whilst the body is also physically moving seems to be excellent for the brain and neural pathways.

The Different Types of Improvisation

In our training for school staff we teach how to give ownership of the movement to the participants. By ensuring they know there is no wrong outcome because they are being creative, the dancers can choreograph themselves and can achieve extraordinary outcomes when supported in the right way. Improvisation to explore a theme and experiment with movement is a great way to do this. Teachers can support students in free improvisation that is often very personal and always open ended or in closed improvisation that has a much more specific aim. 

Ideas for Improvisation

Improvisation Journies are great fun and very exploratory. The teacher has a pre-planned and very simple journey Just a few lines with lots of description ideas. The journey could take place in multiple settings such as for an around the world theme (home to hot air balloon with words such as high, free and clouds, to jungle with words like trees, vines, logs to go under and over or animals. Back to the hot air balloon with the same or different adjectives and onto the desert with ideas such as hot sand under foot, quick skittish lizards and sand dunes and so on.) 
 
If the journey takes place in one setting you can go into more detail. This is great for a topic like Habitats. For a jungle theme the teacher can describe the habitat in much more detail. There are tall trees with branches that spread wide. Vines from the branches for monkeys to swing on. The playful monkeys are jumping, climbing, swinging and picking flies from each other. The flies move from giant plant to plant. There are some fallen trees and you have to go over some and under others.
 
The teacher has the option to be as specific or vague as they like and can alter their words each time they do the journey depending on how the group are responding or if they have done it before. 
 
Improvisation stories are a great way to include the class topic in a cross-curricular dance class and we use it a lot in Educating Dance. In our training, Dance: A Cross-curricular Approach, one of the first journies Sophie (our first ever TRS Teacher) and I did was Water’s Journey. The improvisation can be undertaken as a whole class moving as particles (as one, slowly and quickly etc. depending on the water’s current state), as an individual moving as the water moves through a story that can begin at any point (basically ice to sea to river to water system to tap etc. but this can and should be expanded upon) and can even include a staff member or guest as the sunshine (we always had Sunshine Sophie!) or within small groups with each group having previously been given the water state they will move as. It is a hugely diverse topic!
 
Story improvisation can become a great game for exploring a theme (such as Dinosaur Excavation), as a way to close a session (line up as a…) or as a cool down (Astronaut Suits). It could also be used within the school day if the story is appropriate. Please see my ‘Dancing Day’ blog post for more on that.
 
The first ever story improv I wrote was one I use just for fun as a game in dance clubs, but that is also great for gross motor skills development… I invented Pumpkin Soup whilst sitting on a train because there was a cafe at the station that had a similar name. Whilst the teacher says the story (and hopefully moves a little themselves as well) the children improvise. It’s quite a closed improvisation and due to that can be done with a whole class. I will create a full download for the story and instructions soon (in our new section of the website), but for now suffice to say that there’s a bowl of soup, a sudden mess and some sliding, tip toeing and sticky feet followed by a big clean up operation.
 
Carnival Dance is a wonderful way to inject colour and excitment into a class and works especially well within Active Armchairs. It can also be easily adapted for different themes. This is basically when the whole group moves, everyone is moving individually, but is occasionally inspired by someone else in the room. For carnival dance we would all have colourful feathers or scarves to dance with. When the facilitator sees something they particularly like they can commend the person who created it and incorporate it into their own movements. This also means that those who are shy, new to improvisation or struggle to improvise can still join in because ‘copying’ is welcomed and encouraged. An extension to this is when the facilitator begins to pick some of the movements and sequences them to choreograph a motif (small section of dance).
 
Although this is called carnival dance, the theme doesn’t have to be carnival. At Christmas I’ve used tinsle, jingle bells or silly hat voguing for a similar affect. 
 
Strike a Pose is a way to introduce a moment of improvisation into lots of different aspects of the dance class or school day in general. They could strike a pose at the end of a dance or exercise (you could give warning or spring it upon them depending on the group) or and the start before the music begins (this is a great way to get a group of young children to stay still!). 

It is an important part of travel / stop games (where the teacher shouts travel and then, after a while, stop and the participants move within a theme). It can also be done when improvising with props. It is very exciting when done with a giant elastic! 
 
 

Partner Improvisation is great for relationship building. Of course it can be done in schools and is brilliant for PSHE themed dance lessons, but my two favourite examples of partner improv are found in Active Armchairs, the dance together (holding hands as the participant leads the facilitator) and the Floating Material (a person at each end of a long piece of material wafting it in various ways). 

 

The photo on the left is of spontaneous improvisation with a participant who asked me to dance during Active Armchairs. We were supposed to be copying Georgie (leading her warm up in the background), but this particular lady became so excited by the class that she just got up and went for it! She led me and I had to follow. This is the best type of improvisation, when some one lets go and just goes for it. 

 
Improvisation is clearly a subject that excites me and I could go on and on about things we can do, but my biggest tip is to just give it a try. You’ll never guess what the group will come up with and in the highly unlikely event that they don’t know what to do, you can always move to the next bit more quickly or change tact slightly so the theme changes.

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A Year in The Life

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Steph, Level Three TRS Teacher, Level Two Active Armchairs Facilitator and Educating Dance Teacher (what a mouthful, she’s reached the highest levels possible at TRS!) was voted TRS Teacher of the year 2017 by TRS staff in November last year. As we are coming up to this year’s vote I asked her to write about her year and I’m pleased to say it’s really varied and has been very exciting!

This is how young dancers in Steph’s classes put their hand up to talk… in any funky position!

A Year in The Life of Steph…

One of my favourite things about my work with The Right Step Dance Company is the variety it brings each day. The past year has been no exception to this. Teaching all over Kent and Medway, I’ve covered thousands of miles, planned hundreds of classes and had a wonderful time sharing my love of dance and movement with hundreds of class participants for another year. 

Flicking through my diary, I’ve been reminded of some of the new schools and care homes I’ve visited this year amongst my regular classes. I’ve been teaching for The Right Step Dance Company for over 5 years, and whilst there are new classes and ‘one off’ sessions happening all the time, I have some brilliant regular classes too.  One of my longest running classes is the Friday afternoon Dance Club at Byron Primary School. I wrote a blog post (read it HERE) about their Dance club earlier in the year after their fantastic Summer Term. Often we get to see the development and enjoyment children have in their dance classes, but there isn’t always a show or opportunity to share the brilliant work the children have achieved. To overcome this, we decided to film the last class of term so they could share their achievements and experiences. I was so pleased to have been able to put this video together for the Dance Club participants at Byron Primary.

Another filming day, and definite highlight of my year, would have to be the BBC Filming Day at Hale Place Care Home. We were honoured and utterly thrilled to have been asked to be part of the filming as one of the home’s favourite activities. We continually see the positive impacts of Active Armchairs, but when others can really see and feel the benefits of the classes too and wave the Active Armchairs flag of joy it’s a brilliant feeling! Myself and Rebecca had a wonderful morning with the residents and carers, and I think its fair to say we both left that morning with big smiles on our faces!  Hale Place was a relatively new class for me at the time, and has now become one of my regular weekly classes. I have loved getting to know the residents even better over the past year, and look forward to another year of dancing and singing with everyone.

There have been great team moments throughout the year too, with our twice yearly All Hands Meetings and training sessions. We usually find ourselves teaching alone, so having the opportunity to meet with others teachers on the team at All Hands meetings means we can share experiences and advice. It’s also just a lovely opportunity to have a good catch up over a cup of tea and some biscuits!  We often have training within these meetings, and in our most recent one we had a session with confidence coach Andrea Barker.  The session was not only a great team bonding experience, but also enabled us to take strategies away to implement into our practice.  Catch us striking our power pose below!

I really enjoy the opportunity to work with other TRS teachers, and as a Level 3 TRS Teacher, I had the opportunity to mentor one of our newer teachers to the team this year.  When teachers join me in my classes for training, I love to share experiences and tips so it’s been great to be able to focus this into a mentoring process.  I know myself I find it very beneficial to be observed, and to share teaching practices with other teachers, so combing this with my experiences as a freelancer made for a great first mentoring experience.

As I reflect upon the year, It’s very hard to pin point a few favourite moments, as in all honesty every day and every class brings something magic. I mentioned the notion of ‘Magic Moments’ and how we capture them in classes in an All Hands meeting a few years ago and it has since become a wonderful way to share these little snippets of joy with everyone.  There are plenty of Magic Moment quotes to be found on TRS social media; Whether it’s a comment about the participants class experience, a child that expresses their enjoyment and pride at learning a new dance step, the older adult that taps along to the music for the first time or feedback from a teacher/carer about how a participants response is a breakthrough….we are so lucky to be a part of so much magical! Here are two of my most recent Magic Moments. 

“Year 5 at Singlewell Primary School have been learning Bhangra Dance this term and will be showing some of their moves in their assembly this week. They were looking fantastic in their dance class earlier in the week and we can’t wait to hear how it went!”
Steph

“Singing in the rain is my tune of the day today!! We had a great sing along at Fort Horsted and reminisced about the great Gene Kelly and his wonderful dancing in the rain and swinging around the lamppost!”
Steph

As the final school term of the year approaches, and I begin to think about Christmas classes and plans for the new terms in 2019 (!) I find myself feeling very grateful for having another great year of classes and experiences with the Company.  This year especially seems to have flown by…but maybe that’s because I’ve just been having too much fun dancing!

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Proprioception and Vestibular Sense

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Proprioception is the body’s unconscious ability to sense the position, location and movement of the body and it’s parts. In dance this is often referred to as spatial awareness. In ‘Every Child a Mover’, Jan White describes it as “An awareness of the body, knowing where our limbs and ‘edges’ are and where our body is in space.”
 
The Vestibular Sense refers to the body’s vestibular sensory system that monitors and adjusts it’s sense of balance and orientation to the world. This sense is what keeps the us upright while standing, sitting or walking and it is primarily located in the inner ear.
 
Together proprioception and the vestibular sense allow us to move purpose, grace and without knocking into things (sometimes!), but as with all our senses and most bodily functions, we have to learn how to use them and they can be developed and improved slightly throughout life. Babies and toddlers, have to develop these skills from scratch and they are still developing through primary school. Young people, teenagers through adolescence, often suffer temporary loss or impairment of proprioception and the vestibular sense.
 
In general, for young children developing these areas of body awareness is achieved by doing as many different movements in as many different ways as possible. This blog post will explore some specific ways in which we can support these areas of development and changing needs within our dance classes. This blog post does not refer to when there is a medical need for improvement. For these times professional medical advice should be sought. This blog post is designed to support those who work with children and young people.

Mariinsky’s Swan Lake The corps de ballet must be keenly aware of where their bodies are in space.

Balancing
Balance is associated with the vestibular system as well as the motor and visual systems more so than with proprioception, but they still work in tandem.
 

Travel stop is a good game to improve balance. The participants move around the room in a way that relates to the class theme or using a travelling movement such as a gallop. When the teacher shouts stop and/or holds up a sign to signify stop, the participants hold a still position in a similar way to musical statues. The next stage of this game is to call out a position for participants to get into. For example, in an opposites theme you might ask them to make a low shape and the next time a high shape. This is where the balance comes in, state that they need to be on one leg or show them the balance position you want them to do.

You can use balance to bring everyone back to focus anytime during the school day or at the end of a cool down as a calming item. Just ask the group to stand with their feet slightly apart (in ‘place’) and the  slowly rise up onto the balls of their feet. They could hold their arms out to the side or on the hips to help them. Closing eyes emphasises the affect on their balance development  as well as their focus.
 
Another fun balance game is sitting on a ball. This works with balls of lots of different sizes, but they can’t be spongey because then they squash flat. Ask the children to pick a ball and take it to their space. The aim is to sit on the ball for the duration of the song. If they find it easy the task can be developed for body parts or types of balance. This is great for a creative dance class where balls are used as a prop or for one of our ball skills classes (all sorts of ball props and creative dance coming together! Imagine soft squishy snowballs, shakey cat bells and giant balloon balls all in one very fun class for under 5s!).
 
Bare feet!
Have you ever wondered why babies prefer to be in bare feet? My daughter spends a great deal of time removing shoes and socks and she was one of the reasons I began learning more about the vestibular sense and proprioception because refereed to a lot when researching physical development in babies.
 

Going barefoot helps to map the body and, although many dance styles require shoes to be worn in class, tap, character and street come to mind, we can help children in their development by encouraging them to move barefoot in creative dance or for sections of a dance class.
 
 
Part of a creative dance class could explore different ways the feet come into contact with the floor… stamping, jumping, sliding, tip toes, feet edges (being extra careful!), light taps and stronger taps etc. Barefoot races with different forms of travelling such as running, hopping, galloping or slime slid
es (when the floor is covered in slime and you have to get through it but sometimes it’s slippery and then suddenly it’s sticky and then it’s back to slippery again).
 
Going barefoot can also apply to our Active Armchairs sessions with older adults, many of whom spend most of their lives in slippers or shoes. Perhaps we could organise a barefoot class with sensory boxes for the feet (sand or tiny fluffy pom poms), a giant elastic to signify the edge of the sea for dipping toes in and a ball to try and keep under the foot.
 
For a little bit more about Barefoot Babies you can read Dr Kacie Flegal’s article: 
http://www.naturalchildmagazine.com/1210/barefoot-babies.htm
 

Body pressure

This involves stimulating the receptors in the skin and is great for developing an inner ‘map’ of the body. Movements like rolling, crawling like a baby or a bear, army crawling, crab walking or being a worm or snake are great. All you need is an empty space like a dance studio or school hall!

Props can also help. Games with lycra such as when the group holds the lycra and an individual makes shapes underneath or all sitting around the lycra pushing the feet and hands up to make shapes.
 

 
Move With Others
As well as moving by themselves, children develop their vestibular sense by being moved by others. This includes everything from being thrown in the air by a fun uncle to giving and / or receiving a great big bear hug! This links in with body pressure (above).
 
Some rhymes and games can be done with a friend or as a group and these make a great brain break during the school day or a quick, related or unrelated section in a dance class. Some to try include Row, Row,Row Your Boat, Ring a Roses, In and Out The Dusky Bluebells and many of the songs that involve horses, but performed with a partner or sitting on an adults lap (perfect for our TRS Tots classes!). Try Mother, Father and Uncle John, This is the Way The Lady Rides or Horsey Horsey. 
 
Be Creative
In our school staff training programme, Dance: A Cross-curricular Approach, we teach staff how to give ownership of the movement to their pupils. Although this does make it a lot easier and more enjoyable for school staff who are teaching dance as a subject, it is also very beneficial for the pupils. It has been established that children learn through play and at their own pace. When developing body awareness, children have to go through a process in their own time.  A creative dance class supports this order of development because it both gives young children the opportunity to move in the way their body needs to move on that day and also includes sections of taught movement that provide examples of other things they could do.
 
 
 

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Partnership

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Written by Georgie Tedora, owner of The Right Step, South Kent, TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator.

For the past 2 weeks we have been celebrating the Age of Creativity Festival. We know what this is, but perhaps you don’t? To give you a better idea here’s what Age UK said:

“The Age of Creativity provides leadership, profile, advocacy and infrastructure development for everyone who believes in the value of creativity for older people. Established in 2012 with funding from the Baring Foundation, the project aims to support professionals working in arts, health, culture, social care, academia, voluntary and community sectors to enable more older people to take part creative activities and enjoy improved health, wellbeing and quality of life.”

This year’s festival theme is partnership, TRS already do so much involving this, but we thought we’d go even further in celebration of the festival! More about what we did during the festival later. 

So, let’s start off with the basics….

What is partnership? To different people this can mean different things. It could be a spouse, it could be business partner, or even your ‘partner in crime’. To us partnership is one of the key aspects of The Right Step Dance Company. Just by going through some testimonials from participants, teachers and observers I have picked out so many words which all relate to partnership:

The Right Step Dance Company states in it’s executive summary that TRS “links companies, dance artists and participants, taking on administration and building relationships with those who love dance.” We are always looking to create new partnerships within our company. Creating these links allows this to happen. This has even passed onto our TRS teachers. When asked what partnership means to them here’s what some had to say:

“Working, thinking and creating together” – Georgia

“Partnership is working and communicating with one another or others in the community. This could be local, global or international.” – Becca G

“Working together to create opportunities together. Partnership is key in all aspects of life!” Georgie

Like I said, TRS use partnership on a daily basis, ever since the start. Here are some blasts from the Past that give some great examples of partnership in action!

Hale Place Care Solutions, Active Armchairs with Steph on BBC Filiming day

Age UK Folkestone, Active Armchairs with Alice on the very first day of classes for The Right Step South Kent

Montgomery Court, Social Dance with Georgie, John and Doff enjoying themselves

And here’s another great example of encouraging partnership within our classes:

“My favourite story is one you’ve all heard before… when a participant joined the circle at Valley View because I used the giant elastic. It was the first time she left her table to join the circle for me!” Rebecca Ashton, Company Director talking to TRS Teachers

TRS have always been able to understand the importance of partners within our Active Armchairs classes, avoiding the social isolation that can sadly occur for older adults. This is why we encourage all participants to join in our sessions, and for those who would prefer one-to-one within their own space, we offer that too. One to one still involves the contact and social aspects just on a smaller scale. Partnerships can be and are created anywhere and everywhere. Which is where the next part of the blog comes in…

For the past two weeks the TRS Teachers have been focusing on the theme of Partnership, and it’s even spread onto our schools classes too:

With partnership in mind, I’ve been tying my scarves together in Active Armchairs this week. It unites the group as we shake and wiggle and makes a for a great game of tug of war! Steph

“At Durland House we I asked the participants what partnership meant to them, and almost at the same time they all said ‘togetherness!’ We then had a fun game of the egg and spoon, encouraging team work, balance and focus. They were so good I thought I’d make it a little harder by using plastic balls too!’’ Georgie

“I am working on partnership with my reception class this week. They are very young and new to a dance class environment so I thought something simple like mirroring our partners movements and traveling across the space together in different ways would be a good idea to get them comfortable in the space and with each other.” Georgia at Burham Primary School

“At Hoo Primary we discussed partnership and what the word meant to the children. We also explored how people would work in partnership in a Circus (as that’s this terms theme). The two keywords that came up were Trust and Team Work. So we experimented with ways to use these two themes with the circus in mind and had lots of supportive movements and balances on the tight rope! We also had some very funny clowns who were working well as a team to make sure that no one dropped their imaginary juggling balls! We’ve added these into our Greatest Showman Dance” Steph

“We often finish a session with a mini meditation as part of our cool down to help centre ourselves and calm down from all of the excitement of dance so we can go home calmly and safely. Yesterday we did it holding hands to help calm each other. Wrotham Road” Alice

“Our theme at Hoo this term has been superheroes! We have been working in partners and the children had to pick a superhero each and create movements that fit the superheroes character. We then joined 2 partners up with each other to create longer dances and bigger teams together!” Becca G

“At Mereworth we have been doing street dance this term. We end the sessions with a team huddle up and shout ‘’Street Crew!’’ We have also worked on some secret handshakes (which aren’t so secret) to coincide with the partnership them which turned out so good that we added them onto our routine!” Georgie

Age of creativity festival has really allowed us to explore and expand our partnerships even further. We are looking forward to next year’s festival to see what that theme brings to our team!

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Magic Moments! Sept 2018

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This year we have had so many Magic Moments from all our classes we thought we’d share them altogether for you to see. Whether it’s a small toe tap from an older adult participant who usually struggles or a standing ovation from a performance at the end of term, TRS have so many magic moments and we love to share them!

“I just wanted to say how lovely it was at Lulworth House today. Aga (the activities coordinator) was there and encouraging everyone to join in. She had made a point of encouraging people who wanted to take part to come into the room and so many people joined in, it was fantastic. What a difference. I thanked her for being so helpful.”
Clare

“I have just done my first taster at Friston house and it was amazing!! Rebecca and I both stood back and had a moment when they were all doing “it’s raining men” with their pompoms swinging them around their head. They were all having the best time and smiles all round. I have come out feeling buzzing!”
Shanice

“Year 5 at Singlewell Primary School have been learning Bhangra Dance this term and will be showing some of their moves in their assembly this week. They were looking fantastic in their dance class earlier in the week and we can’t wait to hear how it went!”
Steph

“I was so proud of my class at Burham last term. When it came to the performance they did so well that they even got a standing ovation from the audience!”
Georgia

“I went along to St William of Perth to cover a class. They had been learning a dance with Abi and couldn’t wait to show me! I was so Impressed they managed to remember the whole thing! I gave them a huge round of applause.”
Georgie

“A lady, Rose looked a little emotional at one point when we were dancing to “You are my sunshine” she said ‘My dad taught me this song… such happy memories. Thank you!”
Clare

“I played wonderful world last week at Gillingham Age UK and one lady in front of me was really expressing the words with her face. She was singing the words and doing the movements with so much emotion, closing her eyes singing and shaking her head. It was clear she must have been remembering a special moment, was lovely to watch and made me smile!”
Alix

“I just had my last class at Burham Primary School before the summer holidays and they had their performance. They went full out with make-up and costumes and the parents loved it! It was bittersweet as 6 of these as moving up to secondary school next year, so I had to get a photo!”
Shanice

“Singing in the rain is my tune of the day today!! We had a great sing along at Fort Horsted and reminisced about the great Gene Kelly and his wonderful dancing in the rain and swinging around the lamppost!”
Steph

“I was doing an around the world theme in my Active Armchairs classes recently. One lady is normally tired when I come in to do my sessions, but when I played ‘Tell me ma’ for my Irish Jig her feet went crazy! It looked like she was doing traditional Irish dancing, and everyone was so impressed!”
Georgie

“I heard a lady talk to another lady at Gillingham Age UK, and all I heard was ” if you’re happy, you have everything” and that just made me really smile today!”
Alix

“I was at Victory Care Home on Friday. There was a lady at the back occasionally joining in. My next part was doing a bit of one to one with egg shakers and the participants. When I come around and got to her she asked me if she could stand up and dance with me. I said yes and we had a lovely dance together.”
Becca G

“Last time I was at The Grove, we were talking about different dance styles that we enjoyed and perhaps did or wanted to do when we were younger. One was ballet and I mentioned about teaching and still taking lessons in ballet. This week I brought in my pointe shoes to show them all and we had a discussion about how you go on them, what age you should be before starting and where your weight is. I also gave them a cheeky little demo and they loved it and were very impressed and full of praise! Happy dancers and happy teacher (with a slightly Inflated ego).”
Alice

“When I was at Stoke on the last day of term, the school said that this was the busiest the clubs have ever been! It made me feel really proud and each term almost every child returns!”
Shanice

“I was at the Gillingham Age UK dementia class and this lovely lady Marie and I ended up having a one to one dance, as she said she felt comfortable being around me and loved dancing with me! Which was lovely!”
Abi

“I heard a lady talk to another lady at Gillingham Age UK, and all I heard was ” if you’re happy, you have everything” and that just made me really smile today!”
Alix

“We had a new lady Reenie, who initially seemed very distressed and kept calling out. However, I found that all she wanted was for someone to hold her hand or engage her visually. She literally stopped every time I held her hand and seemed to relax… if I caught her eye she also stopped calling out in distress too and would try to copy whatever I was doing.”
Clare

“Hi mini magic moment today, I covered Lulworth this morning and the residents were so welcoming, one even danced with me, full jive moves! He was impressed I could keep up! Another (who had been glaring at me the whole time but still joined in) made sure I had everything before I left and was telling me to make sure I stayed safe on my way to my next care home!”
Alice

Hearing about the TRS Teachers’ Magic Moments is one of the best things about our job so I’m sure we’ll have more to share soon!

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The Dancing Day

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Government guidelines say schools need to get pupils moving more. Here are some tips to include dance through out the day. They aren’t going to make pupils sweat, but they make movement fun.

1_green-svgMorning Shake Up 
Wake up the body and the mind with anything from a few quick movements to a 30 minute Fun Fizz session on the carpet, in the hall or on the playground.

IMG-20150710-WA0021cropYou could try ‘the rub’, something we use as a warm up in a lot of our classes… start by rubbing the hands together, work your way up your arms, perhaps up to the head, rub tummies and, therefore, breakfast, go down the legs and tickle feet if you can reach. You can make the rub as long or short as you wish by extending the time on each body part or by using more or less body parts. You could also adapt this by circling the joints instead or by changing the rub into a sweeping action to get imaginary sand, water or sequins etc. off the body. It’s a great way to learn about body parts too.

The rub is just one idea, we offer Fun Fizz training for school staff and you can find out more HERE.

number-2-clipart-dc6aeamc9Sky Writing
This is drawing giant, imaginary letters and words in the air in front of you. It helps to develop the muscles, balance and co-ordination needed to write in a fun way and can be done in any part of the day. Once you’ve introduced a little sky writing you can quickly bring it into other lessons. Perhaps numbers in maths or sky writing key words in science. In the extreme you could do a whole dance lesson about sky writing! Try a free improvised warm up around the room where children spell their names or other key words. They can make up their own motifs using key words and the teacher could choreograph a ‘chorus’ to go between each group’s word motif. The possibilities are endless!

At The Right Step we believe that every move counts. This mostly applies to our Active Armchairs classes, but when it comes to writing and developing the skills and muscles needed to earn a pen licence, it is also relevant! Find out more about how gross motor skills and core strength affect writing HERE.

number-3-clip-art-at-clker-com-vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-j2uq8g-clipartThe Boring Queue
Turn queuing into a learning opportunity.
‘I would like everyone to stand like a penguin when we line up and then we will waddle to the classroom.’
IMG-20160302-WA0006‘I would like everyone to do their favorite stretch and reach as we move back to the classroom.’
‘We are going to move back to the classroom as if we were solid particles (stucktogether and moving as one) / liquid particles (slightly faster and more random than solid) / as gas particles (possibly only useful for a short distance where you won’t crash into anyone coming the other way!)
‘We are going to do the step together, step sequence we learnt in our Tudor dance class all the way back to the classroom.’

number_4_orange_tA Dance Mnemonic
Mnemonic make difficult things such as sequences of planets or the number of days in a moment easier to remember. A lot of children would benefit from movement mnemonics. These could accompany common mnemonics or you could make something up.

For example, when spelling biscuit, you can support children to remember the ‘cu’ part of biscuit by thinking about ‘a cup of tea and a biscuit’. Dancing the drinking from the cup and the eating of the biscuit could emphasise the point.

5Dance Out The Door
At the end of the day, give your class a theme and ask them to dance out the door. You could do this to improve vocabulary and, for example, ask them to dance joyfully out the door. You can use this as a learning opportunity within your current topic and ask them to dance out the door in the way they think something or someone would move. They could move like a predator, a rain forest animal or a Victorian in their historic clothing. You could bring science in and ask them to move like some one on the moon or as though they were moving through chocolate, sand or water. They might do this individually, in small groups, as a guessing game or in one go, whatever is appropriate for your class.
Hopefully these ideas give you a starting point for what could be a much more energetic and exciting way of learning and working. It’s not always possible to move and learn, but it should be possible to fit something extra in at least once a day.

Further information that could be useful… I wrote a blog about the Government’s guidelines with regards to movement in schools earlier in 2018. You can read it here: http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/2018/03/14/government-funding/ 

 

 

 

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School’s Summer Shows!

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We have lots to celebrate because last year we had some wonderful performances at the end of term. Here’s what some of the TRS said about their clubs and shows before the summer holidays:

Georgia:
My two end of year shows at St Andrew’s Pre-school and Burham Primary were incredible and really were an amazing way to end the year.

20180705_171954At Burham Primary I teach Creative Dance to KS1 and we had a great term discovering opposites. We performed a dance to Upside Down! The children had to work in small groups and were tasked to start close together and find ways to spring apart and move in the opposite way to their partners. Our second dance was based on the circus and we performed a dance to a song from The Greatest Showman! They started with hoops and then performed their own movements with colourful ribbons and beanbags. The dancers performed with confidence and all of the practicing meant the students really knew the movements. The audience was so impressed, we had a standing ovation and the audience were clapping and whooping to congratulate the children. I have never been so proud and I cannot wait to work with this group again next year!

At St Andrew’s Pre-school I teacher ballet to very young children. Some are just 2 when they start! As this was our last show at St Andrew’s, we worked really hard on our dances and learning our ballet words. We worked hard on a skipping and our arm positions this term, and enjoyed performing these movements. The children loved performing to their adults and dancing with their butterfly props. We were all very proud.

Katie:
P1070818Having waited all year for this day, with copious amounts of: ’when are we doing the show?’, the Balfour Infants School dancers certainly made the show worth waiting for! The year two group started preparing for their performance in January, when summer was a distant thought, and we let our imagination grow, with the theme of flying being the starting point for the dance. Later in the term, they welcomed the year ones into their team, and they quickly and impressively learnt the moves and injected their energy straight into the rehearsals.

 

In the end, the dance was nearly six minutes long, and the children managed to remember it all off by heart (including the lyrics)! They performed to a mega mix of five songs, P1070815culminating in the all time favourite of ‘Can’t stop the feeling’, which seemed a fitting way to say goodbye to the year twos as they leave Balfour Infants, and also to express the hard work and fun that they’ve all had leading up to this day. The year twos will definitely be missed but they have certainly inspired some budding performers in the year one children!

 

Abi:
I go to St William of Perth Primary School for before school dance club. The creative morning classes with this kids last term was great! The last few weeks we went back on some of our old routines, which were songs from The Lion King and Aladdin! The kids absolutely loved going back over the dances and even performed them all to me on the last class of term! Very proud teacher moment 😊.
Shanice:
At Burham Primary School I teach a fitness class called “Clubbercise” where I teach KS2 kids. We have been working up too our performance to their adults for the whole of the July term.

I did a Clubbercise routine with them all together to “Power” from Lil Mix which was one of girls favourite tracks. They did so well picking up the routine and we even managed to get it all clean and tidy before performing it.

Photo 10-07-2018, 16 46 02The second part of the performance was the creative part. The girls had learnt loads of different Clubbercise moves throughout the time I have had them so I let them take it In their own stride and come up with a routine. Both groups agreed on the theme of Micheal Jackson and picked the song “Thriller” and they took it very very seriously, in a good way. They did make up , hair and outfits and really really thought about the story and routine in what it was showing.

I’m really am proud of each and every one of them, and it was such a great performance and parents seemed that they loved it. It was also an emotional time as many of them are moving onto their next chapter in secondary school so it was a great high to finish on.

 

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Dance in The Dockyard

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Dancing in The Dockyard was a fantastic event from the way the diverse programme came together to the fact we were tremendously lucky with the weather on the day and I’m very pleased that Luci from the Arts Development Team, Medway Council asked us to be involved with it and would like to say thank you for funding and supporting yet another great Medway dance event!

IMG_1099My favourite part of Dancing in the Dockyard is that so many people who don’t usually see dance were part of the audience and that they enjoyed it!! We aimed for a varied programme and the groups of Medway provided it. Medway Dance Network helped this along in the early stages of planning and it seemed to come together almost organically. For the, mostly unsuspecting, audience this meant something for everyone. Although I didn’t get to see all of the performances as I was rushing about, I’ve only heard good things and this is testament to the performers. Once again, well done Medway!

My least favourite part of the event is that it’s truely a one off, although this is quite exciting too! As The Historic Dockyard is celebrating their 400th birthday this year we certainly won’t be able to join the celebration of something so exciting again (unless we wait another hundred years perhaps!), but this helped to make the event special. I wish them luck with the rest of their celebrations and I’d like to share that, if you would like to find out what they’re up to this year, you can use the hashtag, #400moments to do so!

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I’d also like to mention the team behind it all. We did have a lovely day, but it was a busy one and the team worked very hard! The hard work began before the event, of course. Luci was on top of things every step of the way, Clare, our social media guru, was joined by Georgie, Hayley supported me and Georgia helped hold everything together on the day. In amongst all this we also had workshops led by Georgia and Georgie, but due to the sheer size of the audience, we all supported them so that more people could participate.

The TRS members of the team have written their own accounts of the event to give you a bit more of an insight. Enjoy!

 

Clare
As the Social Media organiser for the event, my work started well ahead of the day, although not quite as early as all the wonderful choreographers creating their fantastic snippets of dance.

Early doors, I was working on building an audience for our event and thanks to the brilliant Georgie at the Right Step Dance Company, I had help along the way. In return for giving her a little more insight into the wonderful worldwide web of Social Media, she gave her time to assist me with the creation of our audience both on and off-line. In any event like this, we have to bear in mind that we want to see real live people there on the day, as well as, through the magic of the internet, bringing the performance to those unable to attend. We also have the chance afterwards to remind people of the fabulous day they enjoyed through our sharing of a gallery and some video clips taken at the time.

IMG_1148In the weeks ahead of Dance in the Dockyard, we scoured the internet for inspiring dance oriented articles, some of which had an aquatic theme, as well as creating our own count down to the event. We were also able to introduce our audience to the performers ahead of the production.

On the day, we had the best job of all, to document and share the performances with our wider audience. So we got to see everything, in detail, several times over, what a luxury.

Well I think our work went well, as there were so many people from all walks of life there in the audience, we had children and adults participating with enthusiasm as well as scores of people sitting in the audience watching. We had dancers of all abilities and people of all capabilities too, which was wonderful to think that we were able to open dance up to everyone who attended. I particularly loved the lady with her own collection of toy meerkats who joined in with pretty much every single number and workshop.

I think we need to shout a big thank you out to our sound team, as the music could be heard across the festival, drawing people towards the music and dance that was occurring.

IMG_1102The highlight of my day had to be watching all the participants getting so engrossed with the many dance workshops that were put on that day. I loved the fact that the workshops were all nautically themed, which was so in keeping with our historic location. And I learned something, albeit something sombre… The Daisy Farris Dance Collective performed their “Great Thames Disaster”, opening my eyes to this really tragic event that happened on our capital’s river, cutting short the lives of so many, so unexpectedly.

On a lighter note, I learned something else too… how to use Facebook live video. And it was really popular! People unable to attend were able to be a part of our event live through the powers of Facebook. What a brilliant innovation.

When the day was wound up, I also really liked the fact that one of our most popular social media posts was our team selfie. Here’s to the team.

Georgia
It is always helpful for my development to be part of these events as they are always inspiring and enjoyable, and always present learning opportunities for me. These are public events so you never know how they are going to go or what challenges you will face as a team so it is always good to have the experience of being part of the planning. Effective planning can always reduce risks and can give possible solutions to problems that may come up. As with all of these kinds of events that I have attended, this was an amazing event organised by a great team in Medway Arts Team and The Right Step Dance Company and any eventuality was planned for.

IMG_1107There was such a great buzz around the whole event and the performances had lots of audience members watching and commenting on them. I was concerned the event may not capture a big audience due to having to register but the Dockyard did a great job in making the registration free and easy to do and did a great job in marketing the event and we had a great footfall.

I spoke to a family that loved the workshops and hadn’t been to an event like this before and wanted to find out about the classes available. I personally think this is a great success for the companies and dance schools there but also for the promotion of health and wellbeing in Medway.

I had a conversation with a teenage boy that came up to me and ask what kind of dance style it was when Loop were performing. This gave me the opportunity to talk to him about contemporary dance and the ideas behind Ports That Pass. We spoke about possible dance schools that offer this style.

I really liked how inclusive this event was and many people with mixed disabilities joined in the workshops.

Watching people have the chance to network with each other for collaboration opportunities and to promote their companies and dance schools to the public was really great to see.

IMG_1134I really enjoyed delivering the workshop based on boats and the dockyard and was thrilled at the amount of people that were joining in. We had 30-40 people including children, adults, families, people with mixed disabilities and abilities, carers and people from different cultural backgrounds joining in and this really made the event for me. I loved seeing all performances and the range of dance styles and age groups really showcased what Medway can do and what we have to offer! Dancing on the Pier, Dancing in the Dockyard… I can’t wait to see where we will be dancing next time!

Hayley
Dancing in the Dockyard was an absolute pleasure to be a part of. I volunteered my time to help organise the event by attending meetings and collating information via email. I decided that this would be a great opportunity to get involved and see what goes on behind the scenes. I have always been a performer in events like this, meaning I had no idea about the hard work it involves creating such a successful event. This is why I jumped at the chance to have the opportunity to be a part of it. I was able to have firsthand experience on the day dealing with performers, participants, audience members, technicians and Chatham Dockyard coordinators. I was able to talk to the general public and explain what we had to offer on the day, encouraging them to have a look and take part (particularly little ones). I was thrilled to hear how enthusiastic the majority of people were when approached. I heard many lovely comments and received lots of positive feedback through the questionnaires.

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I had people wait to talk to me and receive a leaflet about Dancing in the Dockyard, a young lady and father explaining how she loved to dance and also she is good at it because she practices at school and with her friends. I also had some young boys show me that they can floss when I spoke to them about the event. Later in the day they appeared again and joined in with Georgia’s creative dance. I had an elderly couple approach me asking about what was happening which I explained, they were thrilled to hear and asked for front row seats. I believe they sat through the majority of the first half of performances.

It was brilliant to see how smoothly the day went, particularly when we had the situation with GDPR consent forms. I was overwhelmed at how understanding people were when I explained the importance of the form; many came looking for me to sign the form once Luci explained over the speaker. That worked really well in the end, I think to improve that particular situation in the future we should have a particular spot. This way the parents can come straight to us, rather than we hunt around in the crowd for them. Overall I had a wonderful experience and a great day and the pleasure to work with such a lovely team.

Thank you so for having me!!

Georgie
Wow! What a fantastic event. I was really excited in the build up to dance at the dockyard, being in the office and speaking to Clare about social media posts meant I got a sneak preview of what was going to happen. I could see we had a lovely variety of performers, plus workshops too. I thought I was quite prepared for the event, as I had been to a couple of them before… But I definitely was not IMG_1150prepared for the turn out we had! The crowd was huge, I ended up doing the biggest active armchairs session on record which was amazing! I felt such a buzz from the crowd. even though half of the children were too young to know the songs, they were still really enjoying it. All of the companies involved were so talented and to have such a variety was really great.

I must admit I did have one of the best jobs, taking the photos for social media meant I got a front row seat! I was so excited, I got a little trigger happy with my camera and took over 500 photos! The support from everyone involved, the team and of course the audience really made the event one I will remember!

You can definitely sign me up for next time!

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Spring Time, Show Time!

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We had a lovely start to the year with our school clubs, and to celebrate at the end of the term some of the schools put on a show for fellow students and parents. Here are some of the TRS teachers telling us about their shows this term:

Abi, Level One TRS Teacher at St William of Perth Primary School
“This term I’ve been teaching at St William of Perth Primary School, teaching creative dance. This term I decided to go along the Disney theme of The Lion King. The kids have absolutely loved it, from showing me their loudest roars to knowing all the choreography. One girl even said to me this morning, ‘Abi I’ve been practising The Lion King dance over and over in the week to show you!’ That comment really made my morning and I can’t wait to teach them something different next term!”

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Alix, Level two TRS Teacher at Balfour Juniors school
“Balfour put on a mini performance this term. The parents enjoyed the performance and we did a mix of themes and styles:

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The students performed a circus theme dance, where the children had the chance to act out different performers eg: clowns , tightrope walkers, gymnastics, puppets and more. They performed amazingly, not only remembering the dance moves but performing in their faces and getting in to character was amazing. They really enjoyed the theme! One of our dancers also learnt how to cartwheel just so she could do the gymnastic section of the dance!

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Next they performed ‘Singing in the rain’ where one dancer had a solo. This dance was street dance. They also had chance to choreograph their own group dances. Each group had to choreograph a short routine based on the tempo of the music when it was their time to perform.

 

The last dance was a simple pop routine which they all enjoyed performing and it was a nice routine to finish the performance.

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We had also been looking at electricity – Circuits, batteries, negative and positive. We looked at their relationships and how a circuit works. Our routine had group work in as well as solo sections and partner work. They decided they didn’t want to perform this one.

I look forward to the next show :)”

 

 

Georgia, Level 2 TRS Teacher
Towards the end of term I had two great shows in two schools, St Andrew’s Pre School and Burham Primary School.

St Andrew’s Pre School
The children had been working really hard in their ballet sessions throughout the term to remember the dances, exercises and ballet words. Our first exercise to share was with a hula hoop! While I held the hoop low to the floor, the children pointed their toes through the hoop, ran through the hoop and then did a beautiful turn once on the other side of the hoop. We then performed a dance to ‘Mary, Mary quite contrary’ and this dance was based on us picking flowers. The Ballerinas held a colourful flowers throughout the dance and we reached up high to pick them from the trees and plied to pick them from the grass. We gathered our flowers together as a group and took a deep breath to smelled them before spinning with them and blowing the petals! Our last dance was performed in pairs to ‘Walking on Sunshine’ and was about us being very happy that the sunshine was on its way so we could play with our friends. In partners, we skipped, turned, galloped and gave high-tens! We showed our partners our ballet moves such as First/ Second Position, Tendus, Plies and Jetes. I had a wonderful time with the Ballerinas and I was very proud of them. The parents clapped and told me how wonderful the show was.

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Burham Primary School
Throughout the term, we had been learning a dance to ‘Sun Comes Up’ that was based on street dance moves we had created about rising and falling. Throughout the term we had also completed lots of creative tasks based on the idea of superheroes. For our show, I wanted to share two dances, our street dance one and one that the group would choreograph themselves. I chose three pieces of music and the group had to decide between them which one they would like to use. I then assisted the group to piece together their superhero dance. They started off with two groups at the side of the room and ran towards each other in slow motion before meeting their partner and showing their best superhero moves such as cat girl hand gestures and shooting spider web from their wrists! They finished their dance by running forwards towards the audience and then performing their signature move in canon before ending on the floor in true dramatic superhero style! It was amazing to be able to tell the parents that the first dance was created by the dance group and the students were incredibly proud of themselves. At the end of the show, the audience clapped and cheered and even asked to see it again!

I really enjoyed the shows this year and cannot wait for the term to start so that we can start all over again and prepare and create for our summer shows!

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Clubbercise Club

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Burham Primary have a weekly Clubbercise after school club with Shanice. Shanice was so impressed with their dancing that she filmed them to show them what they’d learnt. Here’s what Shanice had to say.

We did this dance as they where performing in their assembly as we needed the class to get a bit busier. When the school asked us to do this we only had 2 weeks to learn a routine and make it perfect. The girls worked really hard in both those lessons to perfect the routine and to make sure they would remember it. I really loved how they really enjoyed working on it and I was really proud so I videoed and wanted to share it with Rebecca. I didn’t manage to actually see them perform as it was in school time but the following week after the performance I asked all the girls how it went and they said they loved it and it went well. We also got 2 new recruits which was great!

Here’s the video!

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