Pupils at Park Lane Primary School, Nuneaton, Warwickshire, part of Griffin Schools Trust (GST), are putting on their dancing shoes to celebrate UNESCO’s International Dance Day (IDD) tomorrow (April 29).
“Dance is an arts genre often overlooked in schools, with ballet more accessible to advantaged pupils. Park Lane’s aim, as ever, is to give our pupils experiences that will have a positive impact on their aspirations and will challenge stereotypes. The Royal Ballet shares a similar ethos and we are always thrilled to take part in Chance to Dance.” – Lara Ensor, Arts Enrichment Lead at Park Lane
The pupils will be exploring dance forms from African cultural dance to ballet and the whole school will be joining the #JerusalemaChallenge – the viral dance craze that has circled the globe – creating their own moves to the catchy South African beats from DJ Master KG.
IDD also marks the start of the eagerly awaited Chance to Dance programme, a collaboration between schools and The Royal Ballet.
Chance to Dance provides primary school children, especially those from areas of socio-economic disadvantage, without access to ballet, the opportunity to engage creatively with ballet and connect with inspirational choreographers and dancers from The Royal Ballet and associate artists from local dance schools.
Research shows that children’s career aspirations are unlikely to change between the ages of 7 and 17, with more than a third of children basing these early aspirations solely on those around them. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are usually surrounded by people working similar jobs, leading to their horizons becoming narrowed at a very early age. Research also reveals that experiences like these expand expectations and widen aspirations.
“Widening Horizons by providing our pupils with experiences outside of their expectations, and opportunities to meet and engage with professionals from all walks of life, is one of the foundations of GST. We aim to inspire our pupils, raise their aspirations and open their eyes to the vast array of possibilities and opportunities available to them.” – Alex Ladbury, Head of School
The Year 3 pupils will attend creative dance workshops lead by Associate Artist, Judith Vardy, and explore key themes from the classic ballet, Romeo and Juliet, before starting to create their own choreography inspired by the work. Their final performance will be filmed and shared virtually with the other pupils and parents.
The school is also part of a local and national network of teachers and theatre professionals making Shakespeare accessible and enjoyable for children and young people.
Every year teachers from Park Lane, attend the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) Associate Schools Programme – extensive training courses run by theatre education practitioners from the RSC and a network of regional theatres, providing them with practical approaches and ideas about ways to engage their pupils in drama and literature – this year’s classic text is ‘Hamlet’.
During the summer term, due to current restrictions, the pupils will share performances with other schools in a virtual Play Making Festival.
The festival is traditionally held at the Swan Theatre, Stratford on Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.