Dancing Through the Curriculum

Another course developed by our Edau, partner network in North Wales, Dancing Through the Curriculum is lead by two dancers with huge experience in bringing dance activities in to an educational setting.

Jamie Jenkins in the Dance Producer for National Youth Dance Wales and an advisor to Welsh Government for the Expressive Arts area of learning experience in the new Curriculum for Wales. Angharad Jones is the Dance Associate of Creative Engagement at Theatr Clwyd.

The first thing that strikes us entering the dance studio at Dance Blast is the amount and variety of objects that Jamie and Angharad had collected for the course. But as we learn through the day they are all cheap and with a bit of creativity many other virtually free props could be used to inspire movement.

After a discussion about what dance is, how it might benefit our practice and what are the barriers to binging dance into our schools, we go straight into a warm up during which we are asked among other things to turn ourselves into a chicken wrap. The discussion was aimed at finding out what might be your preconceptions to dance and how these might put us off teaching it in school, a series of preconceptions that Jamie and Angharad set about breaking down throughout the day.

During a series or activities meant to loosen us up and get us moving freely without being self-conscious we learned just how simple and cheap dance props can be. We are each given a feather and told to keep it in the air through movement, in pairs we hold coffee stirrers between each others fingers and slowly move around, we walk on and throw around foam bricks. In pairs one person is blindfolded while the other gently leads them around the space, and later again with a blindfolded partner we use soft touches to guide the persons movement.

Jamie breaks down our preconceptions about the difficulty in creating good choreography, in pairs we start taking turns to count one, two, three, then Jamie screams out “oh no! we’ve lost one” and we are asked to replace one with a simple movement. Following this we replace two and then three with different movements, then add movements for four and five and we already have a simple choreography that could be performed.

Inspired by techniques form Mantle of the Expert, we explore using themes and stories to inspire our choreographies. Using the book The Lost Words, we see how images and poetry can inspire choreography. One group work with the word dandelion.

Dazzle me, little sun-of-the-grass!
And spin me tiny-time-machine!
(tick-tock, sun clock, thistle & dock)

We pick out the words that describe movements and use those along with the picture to make a dance which we perform for the group who all feed back before Jamie changes the music and asks us to perform again.

The course is led by the incredibly enthusiastic facilitators who got even the most self-conscious and stiff of us moving. Thank you for a fantastic experience and enabling us to break down barriers for learners at school. Angela Morgan gave thanks “for a fantastic experience and enabling us to break down barriers for learners at school”, Emily Duggan said she feels “much more confident to train other staff and teach dance more regularly” and Kerry McDonald said that the “energy and enthusiasm from coaches was infectious.”

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