I spent four days at Canal View Primary working with fellow dance artist Sam Vaherlehto. Together with the class and teachers we explored dance of the past, present and future.
We started the week off looking at gestures as a way of tapping into movement as a form of communication. The class had loads of ideas and even taught us some BSL. Sam taught us all how to gesture a heart by crossing the tip of your thumb and first finger. In small groups the class came up with a gesture dance sequence that we did in time to music. These gestures continued popping up throughout the next few days.
The next day we watched some videos of dance from the past. I was excited to see how the class would respond to these, what they thought about the moves, the clothes, the music, the quality of the footage and if they recognised any of the dances. The teaching assistant remembered wearing her shift dress and dancing the twist. The class thought that the most
‘normal’ dance was from the 1980’s, which seemed to them to be more familiar to the dance of today. A lot of them thought the others were ‘a bit strange’. Then we lined up and went outside where Sam taught everyone the Charleston. Sam and I learned a lot from the class teacher about working in the classroom, how to line the class up before going outside and how to move the tables and chairs with minimal chaos.
The next day we looked at the dance of today, with a particular focus on Fortnite dances - which all the class knew and loved, and which none of the adults knew anything about. I was curious about what their ‘dance of today’ would look like, and how it would differ from what mine might have been when I was 8, which would have been heavily inspired by the Spice Girls. Before the project started I was apprehensive about making the content of the week too hard or too easy, I wasn’t sure what P5’s would be excited by and how I could best get them to engage with the theme, but Fortnite seemed to unite them all.
On the last day we explored what the future of dance might be. We learned about the class’s hopes and thoughts for the future and we watched a clip from 1950’s American cartoon ‘The Jetson’s’. I realised that the concept of the future is a big one and potentially quite scary, or hard to grasp when you’re 8. Sam taught everyone a Robot dance - I’d usually veer away from teaching set choreography in favour of more creative tasks, but the class really enjoyed learning the choreography step by step - this was the only time the whole class was quiet.
Finally we created our own dances incooporating the past, present and future that we’d explored. The class were really involved and had lots of ideas, everyone performed. It felt
rebellious playing Daft Punk loudly in the playground. We saw the head teacher peeking through the blinds watching us. Then we ended the week with a disco in the classroom listening to all kinds of music from the past.