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Young dancers get networked!

9th July 2010

Photography by Benedict Johnson. Performance image of Brighton and Hove Youth Dance Company at U.Dance south east.

In 2007, Brighton and Hove Youth Dance Company took part in Hampshire Dance’s Insight project, which involved the company members delivering dance workshops in schools. The workshops were so successful that the company decided to develop this work and incorporate it into their regular programme. In 2009, the company received funding from the South East Youth Dance Network hubs to deliver workshops in schools in Brighton and Hove.

The opportunity for company members to deliver workshops both helped to develop their skills, and those of the school children participating. It was also a good way to raise the profile of dance within local secondary schools.

The company worked for two terms developing a piece with professional choreographer Yael Flexer. They had a final session with Yael to work on transforming the dance piece into an educational package. Yael explained to the company the process of picking out certain parts to teach, and involved the company fully in the creative process.

Jane Woolley, Artistic Director of the Company, then delivered a training day for company members focussing on professional conduct, planning, time management, team work and communications.

The company worked in groups of four delivering workshops to Key Stages 3 and 4 (age 11- 16) in four local secondary schools. Mixing the company members into different groups was an excellent bonding experience and helped them to develop their team working skills. The workshops consisted of a warm up session, demonstration of the company’s repertoire, and then detailed teaching of the material followed by a creative session.

Not only did the company members enjoy the workshops, but they received excellent feedback from the school children involved, all of whom said that they would like to take part in other dance workshops in the future. The school children found it inspiring to be taught by other young people and said that being helped by the company members on a one-to-one basis was very beneficial.

Jane Woolley said “I saw the confidence of the company members grow, and I was extremely impressed with the professional way that they conducted themselves. You have to know the material really well to teach it, which helped develop their technical understanding of the material and develop as performers. It was really a consolidation and growth experience for them.”

Jane added “I think the project was also important to the company members in increasing their awareness of the dance sector and the need to have portfolio careers. Many people pursing a career in dance will become involved in teaching as well as performing. It is important to develop a range of skills, and the earlier the young people develop these skills the better.”

Many of the company members have gone on to apply for dance schools and university training, and all those that went to interviews were asked about their experience teaching the workshops in schools.

The Company is planning to develop their workshop activity in schools in the future. This hub funded project is an excellent example of good practice in encouraging young dancers to use their skills to engage other young people.

Comments from the Brighton and Hove Youth Dance Company members involved:

'Really enjoyed teaching, something I've never done before - especially working creatively with them, I would definitely do this again'

'I would definitely do this again- great experience!'

'Teaching is a new experience for me and I really enjoyed taking part in the workshops'

'We all had our own part of the workshop to teach, and had opportunities to teach how you want'

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