Blog 2: Hannah Venet (Immerse Artist in Residence)

21 November 2019


I asked the class what abstract means? - 'It's when you throw a bucket of paint over something and call it Art' - Lily, Canal View PS

Week 4

In order to have a chance to work in smaller more focused groups, we decided to try splitting each P6 class in half with Caitlin and I working separately and then swapping groups. This was great because we could delve a little deeper into the process. I had the chance to develop some of the lifts and duet work we have been making together and Caitlin could start getting to know the classes and try out some voice work with them. The classes also did some writing about the canal and what home means to them. This writing will be the starting point for the song we will create together. 

It was great having smaller groups but what was tricky was it felt like as soon as we got started, we had to move on and swap groups. It also felt like because Caitlin and I were working separately in different spaces in the school we weren’t able to communicate with one another and follow the lead from the P6s about what they were inspired and excited by. It was more led by timings which was frustrating and felt like it stopped the flow of what we were discovering. It was useful to try and work this way in order to have smaller groups, but next week we are going to go back to leading together so we can take the lead from the P6s and react to what is happening in the room.

Week 5

Today we created some improvised travelling duets inspired by different types of conversations. How can we communicate and listen with our bodies? How can we embody the emotion of the conversation? Making choreographic decisions in the moment. 

I asked the group what does dancing feel like? - ‘Freedom!’ - Junior

We also we worked on the beginnings of our song, it is inspired by call and response and the act of singing to the canal. For the final sharing we would love for both P6 classes to sing together and lead their own call and response in a live performance. We experimented with different leaders and there were lots of brave and bold volunteers. The atmosphere with both P6 classes is energetic and eager. They are really throwing themselves whole heartily into the process. We also experimented with some recording for the track that will support the live performance. In a small group of 6 we recorded singing and Ethan did some improvised beatboxing. We also asked Kirsty and Omar to read some of the poems created by P6 last week about the canal and home. This recording might also be used in the final track. We are working with 61 children in total and we want to make sure everyone has a moment to contribute something special and unique to the residency. In this short time frame it is quite challenging but we feel is integral to the spirit of the project.

Week 6

BOAT TRIP! This week we organised for the P6’s to go on a Canal Boat to experience what it feels like to be on the water and sing to the canal. It was brilliant! For most of the children it was the first time they had ever been on a boat and to have the experience of seeing the canal where they live from a truly unique point of view, on the water, was exciting and empowering. For the P6s to have the opportunity to sing live on the boat and connect the work we have been doing with them inside the school to nature and the canal was very inspiring and an important part of the residency.

Some reactions to being on the canal boat:


‘I want to stay on the boat forever’ 

‘I want to live on the canal’ 

‘It’s so quiet and peaceful out here’

‘I love the silence’

'I can see my house from here!'

Week 7 

We created some choreography inspired by the canal and walking on the edge. We learnt the first part of the dance in silence. This was inspired by the use of call and response in the song and how Caitlin uses music to communicate with the group. I wanted to try not using my voice to explain but only my body. I moved and the class copied and responded. This worked really well. Especially as both classes are very chatty, to have a moment in the session were there it is quiet and focus is very powerful. We then choose different actions that could be added into the dance and everyone decided their own order. The solo that was the same to start with transformed into something unique to each person. 

This week I was so impressed by the bravery and confidence of some of the P6s. Particularly by the children who previously might have struggled to join in, but who now are offering to demonstrate in front of the whole class. Mrs Stewart a PSW who is often in the sessions with us mentioned she could see a big change in some of the children and that even in the playground they are more confident and moving their bodies and dancing during break.

Week 8

This week the focus was learning the structure of the song and being to develop performance techniques. We want the P6s to feel confident and strong in their performance next week. We played a few different games to work on eye contact and group communication. Next week we are going to bring the two classes together for the first time to practice singing in a 61 strong choir. The P6’s have created artwork for the invitation for the celebration next week which will be displayed. There will be a performance for the whole school in the morning and a performance for families and carers in the afternoon. We will also be screening the short film of the process, I personally am really excited to see the reaction of the P6’s when they see themselves on the big screen!