Tag Archives: creativity

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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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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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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In The Paper – World Book Day

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Our World Book Day classes made it into the Medway Messenger twice and the articles are below! Thank you to all the schools involved in the World Book Day classes. The week was fantastic fun!

The blog post about World Book Day is here…http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/2016/03/03/world-book-day-a-week-of-dance/

Press Control on your keyboard and scroll your mouse to make the picture bigger!

Monday 4th March 2016

Medway Messenger Mon 7th Mar 2016

Friday 7th March 2016

Medway Messenger Fri 7th Mar 2016

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World Book Day – St Mary’s Primary

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This is our third year at St Mary’s Primary School. Their dance week is always fantastic and this year has been no different. The dance sessions are based on world dance styles or themes from the class room such as Weather or Aliens in Space! Steph, Sophie, Rebecca and Shanice have all been to St Mary’s this week. It’s been busy, but great fun. At the end of the week one group from each class will perform to the school, I’m sure the show will be brilliant.

Sophie said…
Country dancing with Year 2
Both classes had fun learning short sequences of traditional English Country dancing. They did very well as the complicated patterns and changing partners can get confusing! To start with, to
get warmed up, we learnt some steps in a circle that we put into the sequences later. Then to get heart rate up and laughter flowing we had a follow the leader the dance with the whole class. We skipped and clapped along to the music as the leader led us around the room and then stopped to make an arch. The line feeds through the arches and a new leader is formed to start over again.

Both classes then learnt ‘This Old Man’, a dance which is danced with partners in a circle or line and at the end of the sequence you swap partners as country dancing is a social dance so you dance with as many different dancers as possible. Once they mastered this the first class learnt ‘The Black Nag’ and the second the ‘Indian Queen’. They were both longer sequences and had more complicated steps and patterns. However, both classes did extremely well and when watched their peers perform. They had lots of praise for each other and could see the patterns made which they couldn’t see when dancing themselves.

I liked the arches and follow the leader dance.
I liked dancing in small groups, it was easier as had more space.
I liked crossing hands with my partner and turning around.
I liked the heel toe dance as I knew the music (This Old Man).

IMG-20160301-WA0004African Gumboot  with Year 4
African Gumboot is all about creating rhythms by stamping and making noise by hitting the sides of welly boots because the style comes from miners communicating with each other with secret rhythms as they weren’t allowed to talk. To start our workshop we walked in the space and, when I stopped, the class had to stop, listen to my rhythm and Echo it back to me. This really worked to get the class listening as I made the rhythms longer and complex.

“I think it’s good that the miners could do gumboot dancing when they were digging for gold because it’s really fun”

I then taught 4 phrases of Gumboot which had 4 different rhythms, we practiced and practiced so that the whole class had it and all you could hear was the rythm. The class then got creative! In small groups they chose one of the rhythms and made up there own. They had to think about making it look interesting so had to think of a formation to stand in. I was amazed at what they came up with! Brilliant ideas and most groups came up with a new way of making sounds. For example, sliding dragging foot along the floor. I wanted to use all their great ideas so we put an idea from each group to make a whole class dance to finish the workshop with a stamp!

I liked working with other people and coming up with own rhythm.
I liked learning about Gumboot dancing and the rhythms.
I liked putting it all together to make a whole group dance.
It was good to watch everybody’s dances.

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World Book Day – St Andrew’s School

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Steph went to St Andrew’s School and worked with Reception to Year 6. There stories were…

Year R – The Three Little Pigs
Year 1 – Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs
Year 2  – The Hedgehog
Year 3 – Bill’s New Frock
Year 4 – Charlotte’s Web
Year 5 – Kensuke’s Kingdom
Year 6 – The Railway Children

“We celebrate World Book Day every year and have a series of planned activities including dressing up, competitions and our Year 6 children prepare and share stories with our Pre-School and Infant classes. The themed dance sessions, linked to the books the children study in class, will provide cross-curricular links, bringing the books alive.”
Mrs Emma Steinmann Gilbert, St Andrew’s School Principal

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In Year 6 the dancers used hankies to support siblings as  they travelled to Yorkshire. Year 4 were welcomed into the room to find a giant spider web made of wool!

I went to see one of the Year 5 workshops, Kensuke’s Kingdom. Steph taught the class a phrase about waves and the pupils learnt how you can use a phrase lots of times in a dance, but tweak it each time to keep things interesting. They had blue material to use as the sea (I was reminded of Changes in the Current!)

For more about World Book Day click HERE.

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World Book Day – Greenvale Infant’s School

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TRS Teachers Sophie and Rebecca went to Greenvale Infant’s this week. I was lucky enough to visit on of the Year 2 BFG workshops. You can see the video of that below.

“It’s really nice to see the children do something different for World book week. All the children were really enthused about the story, and it was lovely to see how dance was used to look at the story without words or picture. It was great that every child was involved and dancing. When they went back to the class room, they were still moving like the monkey and crocodile.”
Mrs Whale, Head of English at Greenvale Infants School         

Sophie wrote…
I couldn’t wait to start planning for my sessions based on The BFG as this was one of my favourite books growing up and it still is! I decided there was no better way to start the session then sending the class into the actual story and put themselves in Sophies shoes! We lie asleep, trying not to make a sound and then the music starts with a crash and a bang! What’s that? We tip toe to the window to peer outside into the Witching Hour where we see the most horriblist and ugliest Giant of them all – The Fleshlumpeater! Children run and hide under their duvet (my parachute!), squealing with fright and excitement!

20160229_133908We then met the BFG and Sophie and came up with descriptive words for their characters, everything from what they look like down to their personality. As a class we put actions to each word and created a phrase for each character. The BFG had tall, big, bouncy movements while Sophie had tiny, creeping and delicate movements.

The favourite exercise of the session was undoubtedly The Dreamcatcher Game! In pairs, one dancer was The BFG and the other was a Dream. The BFG had to try and catch the dodging dream!

For group work we created a dream or a nightmare sequence, each group had to choose which one they wanted to create and from their starting position the rest of the group had to decide if they had created a lovely, floaty dream or a frightening nightmare! I felt this was a real success as each group used different qualities of movement to match their chosen dream and the rest of the class successfully guessed their creation.
Rebecca wrote…

I visited Greenvale Infants to teach them the wonderful themes of Roald Dahl stories through using creative dance. The stories danced were The Magic Finger , The Enormous Crocodile, The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me, and The BFG; to Nursery children up to Year 2. Not all the children had read the stories, which made it very exciting – as they really needed to use their imaginations to guess and use their movements to explore it’s themes.

The Magic finger
The nursery children focused mainly on the magic and transformation! By learning a short phrase using their own “magic fingers” to connect with their friends by touching their fingers together, then transforming by wiggling and shaking all over into either a low slinky cat with scratchy arms, like the teacher in the story, or grow wings to glide and flap arms like the Greggs. Or even a waddling duck, like the ones who take over the house in the story. What topped of the session was asking the children dance to “Hooked on a feeling”. Using their jazz hands and jumps to show what it felt like before the magic zapped out of their fingers, then travelling around the room touching fingers and transforming their friends, and copying each other.

IMG-20160301-WA0000The Enourmous Crocodile
The children walked into the room to find, much of their surprise,  an Enormous Crocodile taped out on the floor. The children had to describe what he looked like, from his teeth to his tail, and move like the word they used e.g. zig zag teeth and swishy tail. Then the children were introduced to each of the animals in the story and heard how the crocodile was tricky and sly, and sometimes bit the other characters. We explored how these animals might move in the story, such as Trunky would hop and use is trunk to reach in & out; Monkey would swing and jump from tree to tree; Roly Poly bird would fly and her feathers would drift and float in the wind. The children then learnt what tricks the Enourmous Crocodile used to try and capture children (like them!) to swallow them up. The Reception children did a fantastic job suggesting movements and remembering the dance at the very end that we made all together. Using lots of the words and phrases from the story and pictures of the characters, the dancers used so much imagination and were all transported into the jungle.

“My favorite thing of all was all of it!”

“I liked swinging like a monkey.”

“I liked being the crocodile and snapping.”

 

The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me
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This is one of my favourite stories when I was little, as I had loved that the story was about working together to achieve your dreams. For this story the children went on a journey to Grubbers (an empty shop) where we entered Billies dream of owning his own Sweet shop; we moved like the sweets by twisting like candy canes, popping like crackle candy, wiggling like strawberry laces, and by sticking and stretching like  chewy sweets.
IMG-20160302-WA0005Then we met the Windowless window cleaning company (Giraffe, Pelly & Monkey) and the children suggested ways we could  stretch and reach to show the Giraffes growing magical neck, climb and wipe in patters (circles/zig zags/ up & down), and lastly the scooping and flying of the Pelly using down & up motions. The class follow the story to a game of catching the cobra, where they had to take care and work with each other to stop the jewel thief! Since the main focus was on team work, the children formed trios using a shape (still as a picture in a book) and had to really listen and work together to create their very own dance using the characters movements to show them working as a team to clean all 677 windows of the dukes house.

The children did fantastically well, and really enjoyed using the Pelly and monkey movements to travel around the room. The children all managed to listen and work successfully in their groups, much like the Ladderless window cleaning company.

More about World Book Day…
Click HERE for more

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World Book Day – A Week of Dance!

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World Book Day is today, Thursday 3rd March 2016, but we’ve been celebrating all week and will continue tomorrow as well! World Book Day is a festival of the imagination and aims to get children reading more. There are books available to buy for just a pound and almost every school in England celebrates with things like dressing up as book characters!

IMG-20160229-WA0011The TRS Teachers have been working in four schools this week with the specific aim of celebrating World Book Day. St Mary’s Primary School have linked dance styles from around the world, as well as out of this world, to their books. Greenvale Infant’s School used Roald Dahl as their chosen author and each year group had a different book to explore.

 

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At St Andrew’s School each year group also had a different book to explore and they included The Three Little Pigs, Kensuke’s Kingdom and Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs. At Singlewell Primary School books included my favourite, Harry Potter and some fantastic movement based books, Giraffes Can’t Dance and We’re Going On a Bear Hunt!

 

We really enjoy our work, but knowing that people around the country are also celebrating World Book Day makes this week even more exciting. The cross-curricular dance classes are part of our ‘Educating Dance’ programme and make the dance classes we teach even more valuable to pupils, teachers and schools. The books will be explored in a fantastic new way and the pupils will be physically active and having fun learning. Personally, I’m most looking forward to hearing about the Harry Potter sessions. They are my favourite books!

I was going to write one blog post about the entire week, but there is so much to say, so many photos and so many quotes that instead we’ve separated them. Click below to be taken to the posts that the TRS Teachers have written.

Greenvale Infants School
St Andrew’s School
St Mary’s School

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In The Paper – The Supporting Role

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Props In The Car!

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By Steph Vezmar, Schools Dance Co-ordinator, Level Two TRS Teacher and Active Armchairs Facilitator

An insight into what you can find in a TRS teachers car

‘I had tinsel in the back of my car for all of December, I’m sure people thought I’d decorated the car for Christmas!’ Rebecca Ashton, Programme Director

It occurred to me recently that every time I offered someone a lift in my car, I was actually asking them to subconsciously take part in one of my dance sessions.  To give you an idea of what you are likely to face if you travel in the back of one of the TRS teachers cars, you will probably intertwine yourself with a few hula hoops (eager passengers have even have a go at hula hooping before getting in!), you’ll need to put the giant teddy bear on your lap in an effort not to squish him, you can rest your feet on the pile of bean bags in the footwell and if you are chilly then you can wrap yourself up in some of the soft ‘liquid gold’ material.  Whilst you are surrounded by various props and teaching aids, you can also enjoy the ever changing music that may pop up on the iPod shuffle, it could be anything from Glenn Miller to One Direction, to Nursery Rhymes….you name it, we have taught a dance to it!

 

‘Folders, scarfs, parachutes, hula hoops you name it I had it in my boot and the back of my car’ Alix Godden, TRS Teacher

 

So why are these props invaluable to our classes? Regardless of age, props are an exciting addition to a dance class, particularly during creative sessions.  Props bring colour and new dynamics to a session and help to encourage participants to move in a different way.  In Active Armchairs classes I often use feathers for creative tasks and many participants find the colours and texture brings a new element to their dance experience.

 

‘I love the feathers.  I love their colours and the challenge of trying to lift them high so they can float down to the floor.’ Active Armchairs Class Participant 2016

 

Stephs PropsThere is no better place to store our teaching aids than in our cars.  Only last week I was called upon to cover an Active Armchairs session last minute due to sickness, having been teaching in a primary school I wasn’t prepared for this.  However, with my office (my car!) nearby I knew I had all the teaching aids I needed to adapt quickly!  Our cars are our office.  They get us from A to B…and then onto C, D and E throughout the day.  Without time to pop home to grab props for the next class, everything we could possibly need to teach ages 2 to 102 are at our disposal.   Many of the TRS teachers are always on the go, replying to emails and eating lunch whilst parked outside the next venue…a mobile office!

All in the name of dance!

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