On Sunday 30th June I had the pleasure to lead the Whit Friday and Brass Band themed Dancestry Workshop at Greenfield St. Mary's Primary School. The Dancestry workshop is part of a series of sessions that are a continuation of Born and Bred's 'Dancestry' project, a project where dance was used to as an exploratory learning method for local children to gain knowledge of Saddleworth's rich heritage.
We began with a game of 'Granny's Footsteps'. Admittedly this has nothing to do with Saddleworth but rather it was a fun and simple way to bring the children together - an ice breaker, so that as a group everybody felt more at home and ready to dance and be creative.
We then went on to go through a series of dance technique exercises. I effectively taught a contemporary dance class but one that was child friendly both in terms of movement and music. I began by teaching a warm up phrase of roll downs and simple floor based movements, moving into leg swings, a foot warm up (tondus etc. you know what I mean!) before moving into travelling sequences with step ball changes and jumps. As I mentioned earlier, the music was really important to keep the class up beat and motivated. I also chucked in some brass band music for good measure, as its not widely used for dance and I thought this might help us later in the workshop when we began out creative work. As its turns out Knights Templar makes for particularly hilarious step ball changes!
After all this dancing we needed a break, so it was time for an indoor picnic! Funnily enough the apples, oranges and cereal bars were left untouched but the digestive biscuits seemed to disappear quite quickly and mysteriously...
After our break and lovely chat about secret sources of biscuits and sweets and finding Christmas presents early we moved on to some creative work. We had a look at the picture of brass instruments (see insert) and picked four of our favourites: We picked Cornet, Flugel Horn, Trombone and Tuba before taking the time to create approximately 8 counts of movement inspired by the shape, sound or playing action of each instrument.
Once we had created our own movement we then learnt each others and put them together in an order to form a unison phrase that looked like a brass band playing!
After another short break we moved on to another creative task based upon our Whit Friday memories. I had taken a book with me called 'A Saddleworth Whitsuntide' by Michael and Peter Fox in which are some fantastic photographs of Whit Fridays gone by. We looked at many of the photographs and tried to identify where they were taken without reading the captions, seeing if we could recognize buildings, roads and scenery. In the introduction of the book is a passage written by Ammon Wrigley, a Saddleworth author and poet, and it was this passage that we used to create a soft and wistful unison phrase to begin our sharing with later on.
After all this creativity all that remained was to practice, practice, practice until mums and dads arrived so we could perform our Whit Friday creation to a backdrop of Whit Friday Brass classics. We think they liked it A LOT! Post by Olivia Burgess (Artistic Director of Born and Bred Dance Theatre) The next Dancestry Workshop is on Sunday 21st July at Greenfield St. Marys Primary School (OL3 7DW) from 1pm - 3:30pm. To book contact Olivia at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07983469398