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July 7, 2019by Olivia0

We were invited back for the second year running to Berrow Primary school in Somerset, to teach a performance to the whole school.

They had been planning a festival for months to happen on Friday the 14th of June after school. They were running loads of stalls and invited local people as well as all the parents who were coming along to support the school.

All the classes were doing individual performances (music, songs or dance) which they had been working hard at during the term. But they wanted one dance for the school school to take part in – that’s where we came in.

The theme they had all been working towards was Fire and Ice! All the teachers dress up for their festival day, so we couldn’t let the side down. So we got crafty and created a costume to fit the theme, sewing symbols onto a dress we already had. See the pics below from creation, to the final dress…

We had around an hour with each group of 60 children, with two year groups joining in learning the same dance. It was intense getting everything taught and remembered so they could perform it later in the day.

We got our thinking caps on to come up with some music to fit the theme… and we came up with these ideas:

  • Nursery + Reception ‘Le Carnival Des Animaux’ by Nicholas Walker

This was an instrumental track which sounds really twinkly and atmospheric. We created a dance based on animals which live in icy environments. We had Penguins and Polar Bears and it was really sweet watching the youngest ones in the school getting into the movement of the animals.

  • Years 1 + 2 ‘Call of the Champions’ by John Williams

This was a classical track used for the Winter Olympics a few years back. We did a dance based on sports like Ice Skating and Bobsleighs, there was a section of the children being the excited audience watching it, and we had a medal ceremony at the end where three children were awarded medals of bronze, silver and gold.

  • Years 3 + 4 ‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry lee Lewis

This was a really upbeat and fun 50’s inspired dance to the popular song, with lots of partner work!

  • Years 5 + 6 ‘Firestarter’ by The Prodigy

This was more of a Contemporary dance and each person had a scarf to use in it, in a bright red, orange or yellow, to represent fire. It was a really fast and physical dance and pretty technical, which the oldest years did really well with.

  • Whole School ‘Ice Ice Baby’ by Vanilla Ice

The whole school ran onto the stage at the end of the dance to do the finale all together. They danced to this very familiar pop song from the 90’s, and we kept the choreography simple for all years. All the parents in the audience were singing along and it was a great ending to the dance!

We had a fantastic day and look forward to going back next year for a different theme…..

 



May 31, 2019by Olivia0

The Rise Up Festival (put on by The Lumen Learning Trust), invited us back for a second year running to put on loads of Street dance workshops.

There were around 200 children attending the three day event, from schools all around South West England. The kids and teachers were camping in the woods for two nights (sleep – what’s that?) and doing loads of activities during the days. No camping for us as we went home each night to a warm bed and came back refreshed in the morning haha.

Some of their most popular workshops that were happening were the Forensic Workshops, Drumming Workshops, Assault Courses in the woods (extremely muddy kids at the end of this one!) and the Silent Disco at night sounded amazing – where they tried out some of our Street dance moves.

We ran loads of Street dance workshops to loads of groups each day. The groups were mixed with children from different schools in each workshop, so we played some dance games at the start to encourage everyone to get to know each other and form new friendships. Then we taught a cool dance routine to the song ‘Turn it up’ by Armin Van Burren which is a strong punchy songs which both the boys and girls loved.

Here’s a mini clip of the fun we had…

 



May 18, 2019by Olivia0

We were asked to participate in a yough project by a group in South London called ‘Between The Tracks’. They were putting on a community event as part of a fundraising project to raise money for the group.

They were running stalls and activities at the party, and also wanted to perform a dance piece at it, so they asked us to teach them a Street dance.

But we only had 2 rehearsals together, each lasting an hour, so not much at ALL to put together a piece to perform eeekkk!

We had a lovely group of young people attending – but not all the same people for each rehearsal (another eeekkk!) but there were keen and up for the challenge.

We chose a Street dance using a prop to make it more physical and interactive. They loved using the newspapers and really got into it, encorporating them into their mini solos during the dance.

It was lovely to see so many of their families and local people turn up for the party, and the dance was the highlight of the afternoon.

So here’s the video of them performing. It’s not as polished as we’d like, but in only 2hrs we think they did a fab job!

 



April 3, 2019by Olivia0

Widcombe Infants School in Bath had us in for their Arts Week. We have taught there for the last 10years for their themed weeks, and totally love going there and catching up with the teachers, who now feel like friends!

This year their theme was Julia Donaldon (which would be a great one for World Book Day too). She’s written so many amazing books – such as the Gruffalo her most famous children’s book, that it was hard to choose which one to base our dances on…

We went for Cave Baby for the two Reception classes, and a poem called ‘A Day in My Life’ for the year 1 and 2 classes.

Cave Baby is a story about a baby who gets told off by his parents for painting his cave when he is bored. He then gets taken in the night by a woolly mammoth, and they pass various animals along the way. At the Mammoth’s cave he encourages Cave Baby to paint the cave in his bright wild style before delivering cave Baby back home. At the end we are left wondering did it really happen, or was it all a dream?…

We used a piece of music which started creepy (as we were in a cave) and then went all frantic and upbeat for when were were doing the fast painting motifs, which the kids found really funny. We also did some animal dances based on the Mammoth, Hare, Bear, Hyena, Tiger that he encounters in the book.

Julia Donaldson poem

The second dance was based on the poem above. We used some of the literal words and actions to inspire and create the dance, and some of the rhythms that were in the poem, to give the movement some pace and different speeds. The end of the dance we got really imaginative and ended up in the bath (not literally) writing our inspirational poems to finish. (Read the poem and it will make more sense!).

We were going to read the poem out loud while we danced, but after trying it, we decided in the end to use a piece of jolly instrumental music and just represent the poem through the dance and not have it read out loud. This worked well and the children especially enjoyed the mentions of the popular books they recognised in the poem.

It was all great fun and I hope Julia will be happy that she has inspired a day of dance workshops!

 



March 19, 2019by Olivia0

We have been working with Sevenoaks Prep School for a month with a group of 40 Year 3 students. Every week we have run workshops for an hour and a half, with the challenge of  a different style of dance each week.

Chinese fan dance (it was Chinese Yew Year at the time so it fitted in nicely).

Bollywood dance

Scottish dance

African dance

They were working towards a performance to celebrate the Centenary of the school, as it’s been running from 1919 – 2019, so all classes were involved in a performance of some kind. Year 3 chose dance!

They were really hard working students and threw themselves into the new dance styles each week. They worked really well together as a team and really enjoyed it all, as did we – it’s really satisfying teaching young people who are keen to try something new, and make it look good too!

We taught around two minutes of a finished dance on each of the weeks, which were videoed at the end of the workshop so that everyone remembered them. The teachers had a challenge too… for the next week they were going to work with everyone to create a big dance. They were going to take one minute sections of each dance we taught, and put them together to make one whole dance, with different groups doing the different dance styles. This is what they are going to perform to the whole school, friends and family at the local theatre next week at their Centenary celebration night!

We can’t wait to see the end video from the night, and see how well they got on (and I hope to get a copy so I can share it with you blog readers).

So good luck to year 3, its been fab teaching you!



October 23, 2018by Olivia0

Diwali is one of our favourite times in the academic year, as we love teaching Indian dance workshops!

The Hindu Festival of Lights is a wonderful celebration, and has loads of different aspects that can be taught in classroom activities. As well as dance there is music, art and storytelling Рso much that can be linked to Diwali  time.

In our Indian dance workshops we start by telling the traditional story of Rama and Sita and talk about how it links with Diwali. We then show Diva Lamps that we bring in so that the students can see the patterns, shapes and colours of the different styles they can come in.

We then talk about what the Zest teachers is wearing (they always dress up when teaching the workshops) and the significance of their Indian clothing, jewellery and Bindis, and how it all relates to Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Next we get the students dressed up: in Bindis and Belly scarves for the girls, and our gold medal props for the boys. Everyone loves getting dressed up as it feels exciting and transports them to another country.

Then we let the school decide (in advance) which kind of dance workshop they would like us to teach.

Storytelling through dance:

In our storytelling workshops we create the Rama and Sita story through an epic dance routine, using the whole class to create the different characters in the story. It culminates with the whole class doing a Bollywood dance routine as a celebration, representing the end of the story when Rama and Sita follow the Diva lights and return home from the forest.

Bollywood dance:

In our Bollywood dance workshops we start by teaching different Mudras (traditional hand positions). Then we teach lots of Bhangra moves to get us really warmed up and get the blood pumping. Next we teach a Bollywood dance routine for the whole class to enjoy, incorporating lots of the Bhangra moves. It will be high energy, fun and always looks spectacular in the end.

Assembly:

We can also incorporate a Diwali themed assembly into the day. Either at the start of the day to introduce the themed to everyone in the school, or at the end of the day where we get each class to perform their Indian dance routine to everyone else!

For videos and more info on our Indian dance workshops take a look at our Bollywood dance workshop page.

So if you like the sound of things and would like one for your school to enjoy, you know what to do!



September 17, 2018by Olivia0

The bookings have started to come in thick and fast from schools wanting a workshop to tie in with their Black History Month in October.

Our African dance workshops use fantastic traditional music and songs to dance to, with high energy beats and interesting drumming rhythms.

We like to give some background history at the start of each workshop, so the students can get a better idea of the culture and history of Africa. There are 54 countries in the continent of Africa, and the dance styles can often be vastly different depending on their location. For example Egyptian dance is nothing like Gumboot dance from South Africa, which is again nothing like dance from Nigeria!

So the African dance that we teach tends to be from countries in East Africa like Kenya and Ethiopia, which has the traditional moves and feel of typical African dance.

So do let us know if there’s a specific country in African you’d like us to do the dancing from.

We bring in batik printed African material which we have made into belts. So that each student can get dressed up a bit at the start of the workshops.

The format of our African dance workshops goes like this:

  • Brief introduction into African dance and it’s history
  • Dance warm up
  • Teaching an African dance routine
  • The students may have time to work on and add on a bit of their choreography
  • Cool down and stretch

For something to compliment the African dance workshops, we also offer African drumming workshops too! We provide lots of drums to get your students playing African rhythms, making lots of noise, learning a new skill, having loads of fun.

 For more info on the dance or drumming workshops and a dance demo video so you get a flavour of the dance style, visit our African dance page

So please get in touch if you’d like us to bring a workshop to your school



September 3, 2018by Olivia0

No rest for the wicked eh! We have been teaching loads of workshops during the school holidays and having a whale of a time.

We have been to lots of different holiday clubs in and around London, providing dance workshops for a large number of children.

The styles we have been teaching mostly are: Street dance (always popular), Bollywood (children love dressing up in the costumes we provide), 1920’s (Gatsby is a big theme right now), Brazilian (perfect to feel the summer carnival vibes) and we even did a dance using hula hoops as prop (everyone’s abs were feeling it the next day!).

We also played loads of dance games to get everyone warmed up and working well together as often in holiday clubs the children don’t know everyone there. The games also work on their coordination, focus, and get’s their creative juices flowing which makes it easier to teach the dance routines.

We hope you have all had a fab summer too and are not too blue about the new term starting (sob)….



August 29, 2018by Olivia0

We have done two afternoon workshops at Joseph Clarke School in Walthemstow, and have enjoyed the challenge.

It is a school for pupils with visual impairment and some additional complex needs, so in terms of our dance workshops we needed to make sure they were inclusive for everyone to join in. We play lots of great music and always bring extra props or costumes to feel or wear, to make it very sensory for those children who want to join in but find the dance a bit tricky.

The first session we did there was Bollywood dance style, for a sports day they were having in a massive hall. It was a one hour session with all the children in the school dropping in and out with parents and teachers all having a go. It was a bit crazy and noisy but loads of fun. We bought belly scarves and bindis for everyone to dress up in which they loved.

The second workshop was a year later for their Centenary celebrations. They had loads of activities on that week including a visit from Princess Michael of Kent. They also had a town crier in on our day, and all the children took to him with his booming voice, and kept calling him a pirate!

We taught Brazilian dance outside in the sunshine which bought an extra mood of carnival. Our Zest teacher bought in lots of Carnival style masks with feathers, and gold costume necklaces for the children to look at and wear for the workshops.

It was fantastic to see the children working closely with their teachers to master moves which is really hard to do with little or no eyesight. They really are an inspiration and it’s a fantastic school for us to visit. We hope to go back again soon.



August 21, 2018by Olivia0

Zest has taught two fantastic sessions recently for Grapevine organisation in Essex. It’s a group for adults with learning difficulties to get involved in loads of different activities, either in the centre, or out on trips. The members either come with carers, or by themselves, and are encouraged to be independent while in the sessions.

If you are 18 years old or over you are welcome here, there is even a 70 yr old who attends! They have a strong core of 40 members who attend every week, and they are a great bunch of friends, (with some dramas also breaking out amongst them!). It has a really warm and friendly atmosphere there, with all the members wanting to chat to me and shake my hand which is really lovely.

The first session we did was African dance, and I bought lots of African belts for everyone to dress up in to get in the mood. It’s a 2hr workshop so everyone was exhausted by the end of it.

The second session was Street dance and it was on one of the hottest nights in June – we were all sweltering! It was great coming back again as I am getting to know the members and they were looking forward to seeing me again.

Zest has been invited back in October for a night of Bollywood, so we can’t wait to get back for that one!

http://www.grapevineessex.org.uk/index.html