Hull and East Riding Dance Hub
Working in Collaboration (inclusive dance workshops)
at Ganton School
Stephanie Potter (2Blondes Dance Company)
Having lots of previous experience interacting with young people with special needs I was very keen to work on a dance project with these students, particularly students from Ganton as I did my very own first work experience at Ganton when i was just 14 years old.
From the moment I went in to meet the students who would be beginning the dance project with myself and Sam Lawrence, I instantly new that we were going to have fun! Trying to string some initial ideas together to help form the dance piece with the students we discussed topics such as the Simpsons, Katy Perry and the Power Rangers! It wasn’t until we began to discuss the idea of the performance at Bridlington Spa, which was at the seaside, did we realise that a piece based at the beach would be rich in playful choreography, fun costumes and props.
Myself and Sam bombarded the 7 students with all sorts of ideas and creative tasks and they took them all on board like pros. With a very tight timescale of just 6 sessions we soon began to piece the choreography together using surf boards, pirate flags and a very large rubber ring. Throughout the whole process myself and Sam was supported by Rachael Monday, a class teacher at Ganton. Her support and enthusiasm was greatly appreciated and without this I don’t think we would have achieved the level of performance that we did.
It’s always an interesting practice co-leading on a project and something that I recommend dance artists do regularly as it provides many benefits to your own professional practice and developments. I was lucky enough to work alongside Sam Lawrence who is very experienced within the field of inclusive dance. It was fantastic observing her demeanour with the young people and seeing how she broke down creative tasks to the students as this was something I was unsure of.
This project was a fantastic opportunity for both dance artists and the students at Ganton and I hope there are many more to come in the future. Finally, I feel like the project was a very good development from the inclusive practice professional development that we received in Hull from Candoco Dance Company as part of dance transports, as we could put many of our workshop ideas into practice.
Collaborating with Steph on this project reminded me of the huge benefits and joys of team teaching. On a very practical level…someone to DJ whilst the other is leading, someone dancing with the group to ‘model’, demonstrate and support whilst the other has more of an overview, someone to draw the leader’s attention to things they might have missed (eg a member of the group quietly struggling with something).
I think the young people enjoyed the extra energy having two of us brought and benefit from the different ways we work. Whilst on the first session they were probably a little unsure and intimidated by TWO DANCERS leaping about enthusiastically, this very soon turned into feeling safe and confident with the extra support we could give.
Choreographically I think we were more ambitious and confident as a pair and it was exciting to ‘meld’ together our different choreographic approaches.
It was great to develop a relationship with Steph and inspiring to observe her approaches. I found I was able to evaluate and reflect on each session and general progress much more effectively than when I’m on my own.
I felt it was really valuable, thanks for the opportunity!