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Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival: Professional Development Day

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

Teachers and dance artists came together on Wednesday 24th October to take part in two professional development sessions. The day is part of Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival's commitment to develop and strengthen dance provision in schools and wider community settings and is free of charge to schools and groups participating in the Festival.

John explains features of the 'Collage of Dance' to teachers and dance artists working in primary schools.

Morning: The Collage of Dance

The morning session was led by Dr John Connell and focused on dance delivery in primary settings. John spent many years working as a dance teacher and senior leader in secondary schools before moving on to the delivery and coordination of dance in education at several universities. He is now a Senior Lecturer at Leeds Beckett University.


John used the morning to go through some of the components of an integrated approach to dance delivery, which he has billed as the 'Collage of Dance'.


The Collage of Dance is built upon several core elements:

1. That there is no 'right' or 'wrong' within the lesson/workshop. The participants' creativity is paramount as is the teacher/facilitator's acceptance of their ideas.

2. That it is the teacher/facilitator's responsibility to guide participants through a process of choreographic development but the journey MUST be led by their ideas.

3. Safety is paramount - both physical and emotional. The dance studio or school hall must be a safe space in all senses.

4. A fundamental aim is to build participants' vocabulary of movement. Young people are empowered to go shopping for movement and to build their 'coat hanger' of movement vocabulary.

5. The Collage of Dance is about how children FEEL. There is no technical dance scaffold - depending on the confidence and experience of the group; these elements can be fed in as sessions progress but always at a pace that's right for the participants.

6. The starting point for dance can be anything relevant to the group or curriculum - photographs, poetry, themes or topics.


Collage of Dance in Action

An example stimulus for dance sessions with accompanying activities and guidance.

The morning was mainly practical with John delivering a lecture demonstration to both absorb participants in a creative exploration of various photographs and to highlight the particular approaches he employs.


The group initially explored a range of images individually before moving into pairs and then small groups to develop a short dance piece. Additional elements were introduced: Actions, Space, Dynamics, Relationships (ASDR) to further refine work before a final performance.


John very kindly made available a range of online resources for participants to use and adapt. An article about Collage of Dance and John's integrated approach to dance delivery, 'Teaching Dance – Just like getting dressed!' will soon be available from the Association for Physical Education (AfPE) in November in ”Physical Education Matters” journal.


Keith demonstrates some useful software and apps to capture rehearsal and performance.

The morning was rounded off with Keith Ritchie, Senior Learning Support Officer at Leeds Beckett University, introducing the group to software and apps (many of them free) that can be used to record both process and product to further refine the quality of work produced. Keith demonstrated how hardware that most schools and groups will have can be used without the need for expensive pieces of 'kit'.


Afternoon: Arts Award Adviser training

The afternoon was passed over to training colleagues from schools and community groups as Arts Award Discover & Explore Advisers. Managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England, Arts Award is a qualification that inspires young people to grow their arts and leadership talents. Arts Award can be achieved at five levels, four qualifications and an introductory award.


The group were taken through the framework for the Discover & Explore levels (which can be delivered with children and young people up to 25 years of age), explored how activities can be captured/evidenced in a range of creative ways and considered how children and young people might achieve the 3 assessment criteria: Art form knowledge, Creativity and Communication.


Safe to say, everyone achieved adviser status and is now able to deliver the Award as a complement to existing work.

Feedback on the day was really positive with everyone taking away ideas to use.

The YSDF18 Professional Development day is only made possible because of the support of our sponsors and partners. We are grateful to our 2018 sponsors Yorkshire Education, York College and the York & North Yorkshire Dance Hub> Thanks also to IVE for funding the Arts Award training and Leeds Beckett University for making John and Keith available.


The 2018 Yorkshire Schools Dance Festival will be staged across the weekends of the 17th/18th and 24th/25th November at Central Hall, the University of York. Over 1200 young dancers from schools, colleges and groups across the Yorkshire region. Tickets are on sale via the Festival website.

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