I was a keen little dancer as a kid – ballet, tap, stage dancing. A precocious little ball of energy, clad in pink lycra with hair in a tight, tight bun and face caked in blue eyeshadow on the stage of Aldridge Youth Theatre. I loved it, and always get a tingle when I see others experiencing the liberation of leaping about, the point when they are given permission to let go of inhibitions and discover how joyous dance can be.
So how wonderful was it to document a project that encourages dance in the middle of lessons? Yes, that’s right. Dance in English. Dance in Maths. Dance in French! And for that to be coupled with seeing professional dancers perform in the middle of your classroom? To have the opportunity to go on a trip to see a live contemporary dance show? Tingly.
‘Discover Dance’, a project developed by DanceXchange and Dance4, brings live professional dance to the classroom and uses dance to engage pupils in learning key subjects in a creative, exciting way. It’s hard to visualise how dance can be relevant to learning about algebra, but as you can see from the film, this works. Pupils use their bodies to explore concepts and ideas that may not make so much sense on paper. It’s fun, and so, so liberating to push the desks to one side. Pupils also have the opportunity to attend a live dance performance, to make connections between what they have learnt in school and the world of professional dance performance in professional venues. Inspiring stuff.
I’ve been documenting the pilot project in two schools. The short documentary is now doing the rounds of schools to encourage other schools to participate in developing the project further and bring this wonderful scheme to others. I think it’s a great idea. See for yourself.
I’ve worked with the fabulous staff at DanceXchange before – their creativity, vision and commitment to advocate for dance as an art form is wonderful to be around. Jane Ralls, DanceXchange’s Dance Development Director also provided me with this wonderful reference.
“Rachel Gillies is a wonderful community film-maker, demonstrating real ability to make people feel at ease with her presence and obtain exciting and relevant footage. As the film-maker for our Discover Dance project in 2013, she had a warm and friendly manner and was exceptionally flexible in approach. She did a excellent job of editing the material that she captured to create a snappy advocacy film for us to promote the project – and its already been used on numerous occasions. She would be a real asset to any education/community project – either to help document and evaluate work or to help with promotion.”
If you are a teacher and want to learn more then do contact DanceXchange (in the West Midlands) or Dance4 (in the East Midlands). Teachers and pupils were raving about the project – I’m excited to see how it develops!