Youth and Education Coordinator, Gemma Connell and I, Heidi (University work placement student) delivered a DanceTag workshop with ninety Year 6 pupils at Bethany Junior School to develop students dance skills in their P.E curriculum whilst teaching the students about Dance and Digital Technology. After the initial session both Gemma and I took ten gifted and talented Year 6 pupils through their Explore Arts Award.

In the workshop the students learnt about ‘DanceTag’, Pavilion Dance South West’s new app which allowed students to explore technology in a positive way through the medium of dance. DanceTag is an app which enables everyone to dance and to share their dances with others. We had thirty minutes with each class and all of them were excited by the prospect of creating dance for film and fascinated by the fact they were becoming part of an app that could be used worldwide. The app allows the children to explore digital technology by recording themselves being active through dance during a P.E lesson.

After they learnt about how the app works, the ideas behind it and showing them a map of where (at present) all the Dancetag films have been created throughout the UK so far, we were ready to begin our session. The students loved the idea of creating fifteen second dance films and they seemed eager to get started. Gemma taught the student’s four hip hop moves which they seemed very excited about learning. We then split them into smaller groups and they choreographed their own short performances using the four hip hop moves plus their own ideas.

We added in tasks such as thinking about formation and camera angles and the students seemed very engaged with these tasks but also keen to learn more. All ninety children were confident enough to stand up and perform their pieces in front of the camera; they worked collaboratively with each other and used our dance movements as well as their own ideas to create their own dance film. When it came to filming the pieces the students thought about the formation of their dance and about camera angles; did they want the camera looking up/down, held high/low or even have the camera moving along whilst Gemma was filming?

After the workshop ten gifted and talented students were selected by their teachers to complete the Explore Arts Award where the students would write about their experiences in the DanceTag workshop. In one afternoon Gemma and I were able to take ten students through their Explore log books. The children were fully engaged and had perfect behaviour. They openly asked questions about Gemma and I as artists and also about Pavilion Dance South West as an organisation. It was great to see how inquisitive they were about the arts and art organisations. Ten Year 6 students were able to excel in an art form through the Explore Arts Award, where the students were able to show an extra commitment to the arts by participating in a Dance Film workshop, followed by a session working closely with Gemma and I to complete their Explore log books.

Arts Award allows young people to explore and develop new skills in different art forms whilst learning about the DanceTag app and Digital Technology is a new model of learning which can support children and young people on their way to becoming active participants of society, ready to face the technological challenges of the 21st century. Combine these two parts together and you have a creative collaboration which combines art, with new technology and students being active within a P.E lesson.

The Explore Arts Award allows students to be inspired and develop their imagination and creativity whilst constantly learning about new arts forms and evaluating themselves as art explorers. When completing their Explore Arts Awards students were asked about what inspires them and amazingly some students already had answers such as watching Parkour videos on YouTube or listening to a particular piece of music. We asked them specifically how dance and film is inspiring to them and their answers were shown by the fact they would love to make more dance films in the future.

They also branched out by talking about different dance styles, animation and photography. It was wonderful to see Year 6 students already engaged with so many different dance forms and eager to learn about more! Overall the sessions were really positive and appealing to the students, which show how important the impact of an all-rounded arts education is on a child’s development.

With guidance from Gemma and I ten students completed their Explore Arts Award in just a few hours as part of their school curriculum and from that they have gained a recognised qualification and a certificate of their achievement. They should be proud of their achievements; we definitely are!

Heidi Lesiw University Work Placement Student Pavilion Dance South West


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