Tag Archives: creativity

The Wednesday Squad

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

A Project with Young People Exploring Choreography and Performance

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The result of a one off session in the summer with the Wednesday Squad at Parkwood Youth Centre Gillingham, came a 4 week project that allowed the youth group to work together and create a dance piece for a final performance. The youth group used an AQA Unit Award Scheme for some of their activities enabling the participants to gain an accredited AQA certificate. For this project we completed the ‘Creating a Dance’ unit which focused on choreographing a dance to a chosen piece of music.

The Wednesday Squad provides activities and games for young people with learning disabilities and as soon I was walked through the door I was made to feel very welcome. As this is a fun, social club it is up to the attendees what they would like to do, so there was no pressure for everybody to participate, just those who wanted to come and give it a go. Therefore each week there were different people wanting to join in and they helped to contribute ideas to the creation of the piece. For all four weeks there were the same six choreographers and five of those performed the final dance. It was these six who gained their AQA accreditation.

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Week 1 consisted of a fun warm up using the idea of ‘street’ and being ‘cool’ and it was a good chance to show off their own moves to help generate ideas for the piece. We found different ways of saying hello by using high 5’s and adding on our own movement, I discovered that one dancer was a brilliant Irish dancer, another showed off some Chinese dancing he had done at college and the others just loved to dance!

 

With all these movement ideas we discussed what the dance should be about and what we want to convey to the audience. The dancers all agreed they wanted to have a go at a solo to show off their skills and we talked about how each person had something different to show and how this made us unique individuals. The dancers also asked to be taught a routine so we decided that I would teach them a phrase that they could perform altogether in unison and this would convey that they are a ‘crew’, group, ‘team’.

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Now we had the dance idea we got to work at structuring the piece and put together all the ideas that came up in week 1.

We had an introduction where we used the high 5 ideas and strutted on stage to meet a partner. From partners we would go into a formation and perform a unison phrase followed by a dance off which show cased everybody’s own talent and their own choice of music.

The final section consisted of using a baseball hat as a prop and we all put an action forward to create this final phrase of the dance and by performing it in unison it brought the performers back together as a group.

There was one more idea…to get the audience up and have a dance! Throughout the four weeks we tried to encourage all members of the Wednesday Squad to have a go so we thought this would be a perfect way and a way of including them in the final piece. So one dancer took it upon himself to put together and say a few words to ‘Get the Party Started!’

IMAG4567 (Small)The final week was the night of the performance! We invited families and carers to come along and see what we had been up to and the end product of their hard work. The dancers were very excited and showed no sign of nerves at all! We practiced and made sure all the transitions between sections were perfect!

We had to come up with a title so we all sat down and brainstormed words that we thought best described the piece. ‘Unique’, ‘stride’, ‘In-Sync’, ‘Own Style’, ‘Youth’, ‘street’ and we decided on ‘Uni – Sync’.

The audience were seated, the dancers were ready, the music started and we were off! The dancers performed with high energy and everything went as rehearsed! Even at the end of the performance everybody got off their chairs and joined us for a last dance!

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The performers loved it. One said ‘that was the best bit, I loved performing’, another said ‘that went really well’ and a third smiled throughout.

Reactions from the audience were great too, One Mum said ‘all his practicing has paid off’ and told us that her son’s practicing upstairs put a crack in the ceiling!! Other supporters were pleased to hear that their efforts are being recognised with an AQA accreditation.

I was sad to leave the Wednesday Squad that night as I have really enjoyed working with them all. They made my job easier as they were so enthusiastic and full of ideas every session but more importantly they worked well within a team listening to each other.

Well Done Wednesday Squad!

 

Here’s a video that was created automatically using some photos and videos from the performance night.

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Medieval Castles

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This term I’ve been working with Year 2 at Miers Court Primary. Their topic for the term is Medieval Castles and, in dance, I chose to focus on parts of the castle and a Medieval style sequence dance that the pupils could perform at a special event at the end of term (more on that later).

Castle Parts
Battlements, towers, buttresses, draw bridges and moats, every part of the castle had a movement or shape in warm up and a different movement or shape for cool down. There were also bows to “THE KING” and Jester jigs. I was pleased to hear from Miss Baldock, one of the year 2 teachers, that whilst in the classroom learning about jobs in the castle, the children were able to tell her what the Jester’s job was.

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I taught some sequence dances, The Pavanne, The Circle and The Chain that I adapted so they could be performed as one dance. At the end of term there will be a medieval style Banquet held for the Year 2 classes. Entertainment will be the dances they’ve learnt and choreographed with me.

Photo: Ready for the Pavanne

Freeze Frames
In groups, The Great Hall, the draw bridge, the ramparts and the portcullis were turned into freeze frames. Year 2 learnt that to make a good freeze frame you need to use different levels, facial expressions and interesting hands and feet. Then they added linking movements to turn their shapes into a motif.

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I’ve had a fantastic time working with Year 2. I think they’ve learnt a lot about medieval castles as well as dance. They’ve come a really long way. The first week they found it hard to do the step together in The Pavanne. By the end they had a whole dance of step togethers! They should be very proud of themselves.

The photos are in our gallery (http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/gallery-2/medieval-castles/) and here’s an automatically created video, an Auto Awesome, about the project.

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Croquis Event Promo

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Our Promo Croquis Event was a great success!

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Richard Squarecube of
Squarecube Artisans and I have been plotting Croquis Events for a while now. Having been unable to get them off the ground for one reason or another we are pleased to announce that, having joined forces with Sun Pier House, we now have three taster events planned for November and the official launch of monthly events will be January 2015, but more about that in a moment.

 

Yesterday evening we  were joined by a few invited artists and dancer, Clare Wilders (yes, the TRS Teacher who also blogs on our website!) for a promo session. The idea? To gain feedback, photos and video footage to make future Croquis Events excellent!

Croquis is a traditional French art form. It’s a little like life drawing, but the models move occasionally. Richard and I have taken this a step further by adding dancers. The artists have to sketch very quickly, capturing the shapes or movements they see.

There were a few nerves at first, but they were completely squashed during the first go. Artists stood ready, drawing implements in hand, someone pressed play on the iPod and Clare and I were off… very, very slowly!

“I enjoyed the taster and could have carried on for hours…it was really out of my comfort zone yet such a refreshing change to sketch quickly and with abandon, not worrying about the images being perfect nor the end result. I ended up experimenting and creating images unlike anything I have done before using unfamiliar materials (to me) such as charcoal and pastel.”
Sharon, artist

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The artists used various materials, including an iPad, to capture what they saw. Some used multiple pieces of paper, finishing each round with a floor covered in sketches, others draw movement upon movement and created a layered effect. Its was apparent everywhere that, whoever you are, whatever your experience, the event was inspiring.

From a dancer’s point of view Croquis Events are very self-indulgent. They are an opportunity to move however you feel like moving (slowly of course!), really getting into the moment and forgetting the stresses of the day.

As a Dancer how was the event for you?

“It was great actually, quite selfish, because it meant I could get involved in the music and express it how I felt at the time.”
Clare, Croquis Event Dancer

10698688_292632697595926_6178843446991554904_nI especially enjoyed the moments when artists moved into the space to dance. First I danced with Jo, an artist who, I’m told, will try anything. Jo’s influence made me move differently and she gave the surrounding artists further inspiration.

Isabella joined me towards the end and we focused on hand movements. It’s an unusual experience for a dancer to focus on the many ways our hands can move. We were told afterwards that, though our movements were intricate, varied and interesting, for an artists, they were a huge challenge. “Us artists don’t draw hands often, we really should” said Richard. Perhaps this is a challenge we focus on at some point!

Everyone asked when they can have another go so we’re pleased to have dates ready and set! To keep up to date and see some more photos and our video please like our brand new Facebook Page or see the Croquis Events web page.

The first three dates for your diary…
Sunday 16th November, 2-3.30pm ‘An Introduction to Croquis Events’
Sunday 23rd November, 2-3.30pm ‘Explore Croquis Your Own way’
Sunday 30th November, 2-3.30pm ‘What Can We Do With This?’

All held at Sun Pier House Gallery and Tea Room, Medway Street, Chatham, ME4 4HF

Just £15/session or £10/session if you bring your own materials.

Book one of the limited places now…
info@therightstepdc.co.uk

 

 

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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 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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Big Dance 2014

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This year Medway celebrates Big Dance with not one, but two big celebration days! One on July 6th at Medway Park in Gillingham, the second on July 12th on Sun Pier in Chatham. Of course, we couldn’t miss either event and this blog post (to be updated as the events progress) will tell you all about it.

 

IMAG3384Today was Big Dance at Medway Park. There was a fantastic mix of dance performances and workshops from new companies such as Vez Dance to the more experienced Loop Dance Company who were, this year, commissioned to create a new piece with Boy Blue Entertainment. We especially liked that there were dancers of all ages. From little Pop Dancers with AMG Dance to the ladies from Moving Memory Dance Company, showing that just because you look older doesn’t mean you dance like it.

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As well as things on the main stage there were lots of stalls. We shared The Right Step’s stall with Alix, one of the TRS Teachers, and her dance company, AMG Dance. We had a great time meeting the dancers who take part in her classes in various venues in Rainham/Gillingham. The stall next to us was another TRS Teacher, Gemma Quinnell, with her dance and fitness company. Just along the way was Georgia, our Adult Dance Coordinator and TRS Teacher. Georgia manned Loop Dance Company’s stall. What a good bunch!

IMAG3426The day was a great show of how integrated in the local dance and general community The Right Step has become in the past few years. I was proud to see so many of the TRS Teachers there as well as people we’ve worked with on various projects and in our regular work. They included Luci Napleton (organiser of the whole fantastic event) who works for Medway Council’s arts team and who also organised edna, an inspiring dance, arts and health project I was involved with last year.

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Heather Burgess from Sun Pier House had a stall all about Medway Open Studios and two artists were with her. I took a few minutes away from the stall and ‘Made a Face’ out of paper with them. Next week we will be on Sun Pier for Big Dance, right next to Sun Pier House. We are very thankful to them that we can use some space there as our Green Room, especially as Sun Pier House is playing host to Medway Open Studios at the moment!

As with many of these events, we made an Auto-Awesome, a clever app that takes a random selection of photos and video footage from the day and mixes it altogether. remember, it’s random so it doesn’t always make sense, but it is a fantastic overview of the day and we hope you enjoy watching it. Can you pick out all of the TRS Teachers!

 

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18 dancers, 12 minute dance, 3 shows, proud TRS

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Balfour Infants School’s Year 2 Dance Club have worked spectacularly hard this year to choreograph, tie together and rehearse for their Year 2 performance, a tradition at the school. The dancers have all been a pleasure to work with. They all performed beautifully and should be very proud of themselves.

The dance was choreographed by the dancers and myself over the past two years. They are a creative bunch, full of energy and ideas! The dancers chose their favourite bits and I mixed the songs together for them so we could perform them all! Four of the dancers joined us part way through this year and so didn’t know a lot of the material. They set their mind to it and, by the performance, you couldn’t tell the difference between them and any of the others so well done them!

This was the group’s second performance. The first was at The Rats Bay Shindig in April 2014. They performed ‘The Upside Down Dance’. Some of that dance was included in the final performance. The dancers were fantastic at the shindig as well. You can read more about that HERE.

I also teach a Year 1 Dance Club at Balfour Infants School. I asked the group what they thought of the performance and here are some comments I received from them.

‘The show was fantastic because the year 2s kept practising and they were really good at it.’
Willow

‘I liked the Happy dance that they did in it and they mixed it all together.’
Rubi

‘It was fantastic because it just was. My favourite bit was probably the bit when they looked like an egg at the start and then they grew into something.’
Ella

So, what you’ve been waiting for! Here’s the video…

‘The Upside Down Dance’, ‘Storm Vs. Sun’, ‘Lion King’, ‘The Oompa Loompa Dance’, ‘James Bond Warm Up’, ‘Happy!!’

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