How has your lockdown been?
Full of highs and lows! I was home-schooling two young children which was a challenge as I think a lot of parents found. I was constantly Googling things like how do you do long division without a calculator? And what exactly happened in the Stone Age?
I was also very lucky as the Primary school I teach at wanted the continuity of dance lessons for their children during lockdown so I created and filmed three lessons a week in our attic! We were able to play these through our YouTube channel which reached many children at home.
What’s your background and what was your journey to dance?
I grew up on a dairy farm and knew pretty quickly that this life was not going to be for me (sorry Dad). My school was one of the only ones in the county to run GCSE dance and this is when I knew that dance was going to play a big part in my life. I moved to London to study at Trinity Laban and gained my degree in Dance Theatre. From here I knew I preferred teaching to performing so studied for my PGCE in secondary dance in Brighton.
I worked in a few secondary schools but missed working with dance Artists so slightly changed my pathway and worked for Woking Dance and then The Place as an Educational Specialist, working with Artists and teachers. This was the perfect combination. I was still teaching but honing my skills in project management with amazing dancers.
I left The Place to work at the Royal Opera House which was a fantastic experience working with some of the most passionate people you will ever meet. The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera are incredible and I got to know the building well by creating films and digital content about behind the scenes of this organisation.
I knew my heart was always in contemporary dance and when the opportunity came to work with choreographer Richard Alston I jumped at the chance. I became the Learning Manager for the Richard Alston Dance Company and had the dream job of linking schools (through workshops) with the dance company. Unfortunately the company closed earlier this year and so I decided to focus on Dance Educates…
When did you found your business, Dance Educates?
My business partner Alison Swann and I founded Dance Educates in 2014. We had previously worked together at The Place for many years and both feel very strongly about the positivity of dance in education. Our work many focuses on embodied learning (learning by doing) and we deliver cross-curricular dance in schools teaching subjects such as maths, literacy and science through movement. We are now branching out into further classes outside the curriculum.
What can participants expect from the classes?
We want dance to be accessible to everyone and this is at the forefront of our minds. We create relaxed but energetic classes focusing on building confidence (whatever age you are), creativity and technique (depending on the class). Children are amazing at creating dance and that’s our focus for the younger ones with help of music and stories. For the adults it’s a chance to use dance to move with others (COVID safe of course!), develop fitness and contemporary technique in a beautiful space.
How did you discover the Mansion? Do you live locally?
I discovered the mansion as I live locally and have been many times with my children to play in the sandpit, run around the open spaces and we even swam in the lake over summer! It’s beautiful and I was thrilled when you agreed to host our dance classes.
What does the rest of 2020 and next year hold for you?
2020-2021 is going to be an interesting year because who knows?! We would like to carry on developing our classes in South London (Crystal Palace and East Dulwich) but we also know that our classes work well online (Zoom) which is a good back-up in these uncertain times.
We are also working closely with Greenwich Dance as they are interested in our embodied learning work in education and we also run a regular adult contemporary classes for them.
We also have a long-standing relationship with the Open University who are very interested in how dance/movement at a young age can help express feelings and emotions in a safe space and reduce mental health issues later on in life. This is a new research project that we hope to develop and eventually use as evidence to show the importance of dance in education.