125 school children from Elephant & Castle and Nine Elms get creative with Siobhan Davies dance

Earlier this month, 125 enthusiastic school children from Elephant & Castle and Nine Elms could be seen performing to an audience of friends, family, passing tourists and city workers at The Scoop at More London. This vibrant, creative scene was the result of a 12 week dance project named ‘Experience It- Growing Seasons’ by investigative arts organisation Siobhan Davies Dance, with support from Delancey.

The ‘Experience It’ programme provides children and teachers with a kinaesthetic learning experience, bringing movement and dance into the classroom through a series of creative workshops. Responding to the themes of growing and movement in the natural world, pupils of Charlotte Sharman Primary School and Griffin Primary School worked with Siobhan Davies Dance Artist, Marie Forbes, to explore the science behind plant life; creating dance for performance.

The methods used to create the work will now be shared with teachers from across London through a series of workshops taking place in the autumn term; enabling more schools to try out this innovative approach. ‘Extend It’ Teacher Professional Development Workshops are taking place on 21 October, 11 November and 27 November at Siobhan Davies Studios.

Rob Layton, a teacher at Charlotte Sharman Primary School said: The project brought a real change in how I view dance and assess the children’s work. I began to appreciate the children’s creativity using movement rather than assessing their technical skills.

George Ellis, a teacher at Griffin Primary School commented: “Through the project I learnt how to build a lesson. I now know how to take an idea and develop it into a lesson, and build this into a progressive scheme of work and ultimately a dance for performance.

“The teaching staff really valued the twilight staff inset and the session received the most positive feedback we’ve had for any staff training. The in-depth planning meeting with the dance artist really gave meaning and value to what I had practically experienced with the pupils as we could unpick the ideas, process and reasoning behind the content and delivery. This enhanced my understanding of the work and my ability to plan and lead it independently.”

A year 6 pupil from Griffin Primary School said: “Everyone (the public) was so interested in our dances; it was SO amazing! I would love to do more work with you because I love dancing and I can express myself with dancing.”

As well as providing long-term support for this education programme based in Elephant & Castle, Delancey, the headline sponsor of the programme, is currently developing significant residential and retail plans in Elephant & Castle, to complement the wider regeneration strategy in the area. This includes the Elephant Road site and the redevelopment of the Elephant & Castle Shopping Centre, which will form the centrepiece for a new town centre destination, with high quality residential, retail, leisure and cultural amenities for Londoners.

Laura Aldridge, Creative Projects Co-ordinator at Siobhan Davies Dance commented: “The summer performance of Experience It- Growing Seasons was fantastic. Working with 2 schools we saw a real change in the children and teachers’ confidence using movement. We’re really excited about sharing the processes and outcomes of this work through our Extend It Teacher Professional Development Workshops in the Autumn.”