Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Fusion- the first class

I arrived at the Hampton Sports Centre, based at the Hampton Community College, and met Rachel. She graduated from Leed uni last year and is now working for Combination Dance which is based at Whitton Sports College. She has assissted with taster classes for disabled children, but has never run or taught any classes for disabled children prior to this project.

We began the session by sitting in a circle to get to know everyone; there were five children, three mothers, and a sister who came to the class. We rolled a ball along the floor, calling out the name of the person who we wanted to recieve the ball. Each child had very different needs, some just needed to be told to focus, while others required one to one attention. We then stood up, and went round and said our names whilst doing a big movement with our bodies, some of the children used sign language to say their names.

We played a lot of games, recognising the meaning of colours- eg traffic lights; red meaning stop, and green meaning go. And we learnt the macarena for the dancing part, trying to coordinate our different body parts.

I did not know what to expect from the class, and i have never worked with a group made up entirely of children with learning disabilities. I was never phased by the children and was in fact very excited about doing this work. It has helped me to confirm that i do want to go into this line of work.
It felt so good to be able to work with these children, to give them this opportunity, and to allow them to have fun whilst learn. Many people, including Rachel said that this type of work can be so exhausting; and that she had spent the whole day planning for the session. But i didnt want it to end, i felt that after anhour we were just getting started, and i could have easily done another hour. I enjoyed every moment of it, being a child again, running about freely, and not being judged by anyone.

I did not find out the extent of disabiltiy that each child had until we finished the sessionl; i dont know whether i would have reacted differently in the class if i already knew this information.
I found that we had one child with downs syndrome, three with austism and communication difficulties, and onw with prader-willi syndrome.

I am so happy to have rung up about the advertisement, i cannot wait to go back next time!!!!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Fusion Dance And Drama

An advertisement outside the theatre cought my eye on tuesday, which read DANCE! Upon closer inspection, i discovered that the advertisement was for volunteering in Hampton for an inclusive dance and drama project for disabled children aged 9-16. I decided to ring the number and ask about what this invlolved.

Having a keen interest in teaching dance, and working with disabled students, i thought that this would be a great opportunity for experience, and to help me in writing my dissertation.

I learnt that what i woud be doing is perticipating in the classes and assisting with the movements required. I will be going along on Monday to help out, and am thoroughly excited about it!!!!



After this initial knock back from the hospice, i thought about other ways in which i could help out. Their website is full of things to do to help, from donating money, to doing sponsored runs, and fund raising activities. The massive list of things you could do to fund raise included putting on some kind of performance evening.

With this i decided to contact the head of drama at my senior school again, and suggest the possibility of working with the drama club to put on a performance evening. She thought that this would be a great opportunity for the group to perform in front of an audience, and for the school, who have had quite bad publicity recently, to make themselves known in the public eye for doing something good.

I went along on Wednesday to see what the group have already devised, and was pleasently surpirsed at the level of enthusiasm in the group. I played some games with them, and we spoke about scenes which needed development, and scenes which were not devised yet. We also spoke about the date of the performance, and the possibility of other acts which could be performed on the night.

I left feeling so happy, after all this time spent chasing after people, and ideas, i am not only going to be doing something with the school children, but also with their parents and teachers on the evening, to raise as much money as possible for the charity.

I am really looking forward to doing this now, for once!!!


After my knock out by my senior school, i decided to explore another area that i am interested in. I looked around and found the Shooting Star Childrens Hospice, who have a house based in Hampton. I had decided that this was something that i really wanted to do; i would volunteer in the house, perhaps get to speak to some of the families, and ultimately make up a story with the children. I knew that doing workshops would prove to be very difficult, so thought that if i devised a short story with the children, i could direct it and put on a performance for the children and their families.

So great, i thought, i have everything organised, i know what i want to do, and i am sure that volunteers will be very welcome, especially to do some drama therapy work with the children, and make for an entertaining environment.

Then i phoned the house, the man and his assistant who are in charge of the volunteering scheme were both away. I spoke to a repectionist and told her my ideas. After listening, the first thing she said was that they did not allow volunteers to work in the house with children and families, beacuse of the nature of what they do there. OuCh i thought, thats another wound and another massive obsticle to get around.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Girl in need

I really thought i was getting somewhere with my project. I went into my old school last week and advertised to years 9, 10 and 11 about a easter drama project that i would be running. I gave them a week to give their reply slips to reception so that i could return to collect them, and to finalise the dates of the project. When i rang them this morning, to my utter dismay they said that i had no replies.

So now i am stuck. I really have tried to get this up and running. Firstly i asked about going into classes and doing my project there, but due to GCSE's and A levels, i would not be allowed to take the children out for more than their 2 lessons over a fortnight; giving me only 5 hours contact time with them. THIS SUCKS!!!!

I dont understand why it is so difficult. I was so frustrated when Charlene said that she would no longer be working with me, but i managed to sort things out and it looked like i was getting back on track. But i am back to this frustrating stage of not knowing what to do next. Help.

If anyone has any advice that they could give me in my hour of need, i would be very grateful!!!
Yours truly,
Girl in need.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Back in action And CandoCo masterclass

Well, its been a long time and i have finally decided to get off my arse and do some work.

I went to a workshop with Candoco on thursday, in the middle of the South Bank centre. The workshop was a dance masterclass focussing on the work of Nigel Charnock and 'Still'.

The day began at 11am, and took place in an open space in the South Bank cente, where people sat around watching as we made fools of ourselves, shouting and dancing about with blindfolds on. When i arrived, i felt vey nervous about what to expect from this 'masterclass', would i look inexperienced or unfit? And how would i be percieved by everyone?

Initially, everyone sat in their own space and began stretching and warming up, nobody spoke to anyone else, and we were all very judgemental of each other and how we perceived one another.

We started the class with some yoga stretches, which i found familiar to the some of the stretches that we do in our lectures. So i felt quite comfortable, knowing what i was meant to do with each of the movements. Then we spent some time warming up our arms, and our legs; learning short mevement phrases and then repeating them to music. We had to do lots of travelling across the space, focussing on the extension of our arms and legs. At this point i became very frustracted with myself, for not being able to do the movements correctly. I began to get upset, but before i could really loose it with myself, one of the members of Candoco came over and offered me some advice. The next time i tried to do the movements, i felt a bit more comfortable. And she once again came over and told me that i had improved a lot since the previous attempt; this gave me the confidence to continue and not shy away.

We then had to move around the room, and upon coming into contact with someone else, we had to join our heads, and step out to form a counter balence. After a few moments, one partner would move away, and the other would have to continue to walk away from the person.

Another trigger when walking around the room, was to place your hand on the lower part of someone else's back guiding them around the room until they build up speed and then let them go.

The final choice of trigger was to hug someone from behind, so they melt into the floor. Then you pulled the person a little way across the floor, and then offered them a hand to stand up.

At this early part of the day we had to come into contact with a lot of strangers, and had to erase our preconceptions about the people we were working with. This also gave me a chance to get to know different people in the room; those who were able bodied and those who were less able bodied.

The next big part of the class involved being blindfolded and doing different thing with partners. The first was for one partner to be blindfolded and be very neutral, while their partner hugs them. Then the blindfolded partner would begin to resist the hugging.

Another task that we had to undertake, was for one partner to be led across the room blindfolded. At first the blindfolded person would want to go with their partner, but then resist and try anything to return to the side that they started from.

The final big task using the blindfold, was for half of the group to enter the space and dance on your own to the music. We could interact with other people in the room if we wanted to, or we could remain dancing on our own with the blindfolds on. We were then given the option of taking our blindfolds off when we were dancing. I became quite uncomfortable at this point because i was thinking too much about who was watching me and whether i was making a fool of myself. I think i scared myself and from that point i could not relax enough to just do anything without wondering who would be watching me.

After our lunch break, we started with some breathing and voice exercises. Firstly warming up the muscles in our throat, and breathing into our stomachs. We spoke aloud all of the vowels to warm up our mouth and lips. And then we had to try saying the words louder and when coming into contact with a surface, we had to push against it, in an attempt to push the sounds out in a higher pitch, without straining the voice.

Then we learnt part of the routine which the company use in their performance of 'Still'. This section was really fun to learn, beacuse it gave me an insight into how they developed their own improvisation and came to their final piece. We also got a sneek prevew of the performance, and i am very much looking forward to seeing it next tuesday at the southbank centre!