Posts By: Sarah Poekert

The Thinking Body – Who Can Dance?

Sarah back again! I have started in a lovely new school the last two weeks St Mary’s Primary School in Putney delivery more Thinking Body sessions. As we have been doing at all the primary schools this term, we asked the students to question their own learning a little bit more closely. Asking questions like ‘what did you learn about your body today?’ and ‘how is movement helping you learn?’.

Following on from my previous post about Charlotte Sharman Primary School when I asked them ‘What is dance?’ – I did the same at St Mary’s which diverted the children into a conversation about who can dance? 

 

First comments were that older people and disabled people can’t dance. One little boy’s hand shot up instantly and he explained that his sister is disabled and she loves dancing! After some discussion, the pupils ultimately decided that EVERYONE CAN DANCE. Dance is just movement and so any movement is dancing. I encouraged the children to take this forward into all their lessons showing confidence because they are all dancers and can dance!

They showed amazing capacity to explore and try new things after this conversation and we explored States of Matter in Year 4 (showing atomic structures with our bodies), Orbits and Circles in Year 5 (seeing which of our body parts can make circles and how we can orbit each other) and Evolution in Year 6 (showing small changes over a long period of time). More to come on those lessons soon!

Answers to who can dance?

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What is dance?

Sarah here again! Back again for my second week of the term at Charlotte Sharman Primary School. Had a very interesting discussion today with the Year 5 students that still has me thinking!

In a quest to evaluate the students learning in new ways this term, I have been asking the students to question their own learning a little bit more closely. Asking questions like ‘what did you learn about your body today?’ and ‘how is movement helping you learn?’. The answers are varied in both focus and sophistication depending on the year group and student – but today I wanted to try simpler and yet a whole lot more complicated. With it being the beginning of term I thought it might be useful to ask the all important question at the beginning and then ask the students to see if they still agree with their answers at the end of term.

So, I asked: ‘What is dance?’

I wanted to pose them with a simple question that has been debated extensively in the dance world both physically, philosophically, and intellectually.

The first and most poignant answer I got, straight to the point: ‘Movement’

We then carried on to have a discussion about then….what movement is? Answers being ‘actions’, ‘rhythm’, ‘feelings’ and ‘flexibility’ – resulting in some heated debate as to whether you needed to flexible to move or not. Ultimately, they decided that you didn’t.

I then encouraged them to keep this in mind throughout the lesson – remembering that any movement response they had to the tasks given, was dancing. Because they were moving. This conversation still has me thinking as I was blown away by their ability at a young age to have such a focused, clear, and sophisticated discussion about the question I posed. I am excited to see if, at the end of the term, they have any more insights.

 

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Looping, Circling and Perfect Unison at Charlotte Sharman Primary School

Sarah here! I’m one of the SDD Primary School Programme Dance Artists. Today I’ve been working in Charlotte Sharman Primary School who are right next door to SDD. This is my third year at the school and even long before me SDD have had a longstanding relationship with the school. Today  I was working with Reception, Year 1 and Year 5 – all of whom came enthusiastic and full on energy!

In Year 5 they are learning about Vikings so we took a deeper look into the rowing actions of the longboats the Vikings used to travel. We had a look at this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZE1LwagDQI and discussed the action of the oars being ‘circling, looping, and in unison’. Firstly, the students explored the circling action of the oars on their own, using their arms and then other body parts. Then the pupils investigated how they could replicate this looping action not only with different body parts but on different planes of movement. The concept of looping is connected to Matthias Sperling’s Loop Atlas within Siobhan Davies Dance new work material / rearranged / to / be.

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We then took it a step further and had the students in teams to see if they could replicate the looping on different planes with different body parts but in perfect unison with their team. It was fascinating to watch and discuss with them their ability to work as a team to achieve perfect unison with no counting, talking, general dance knowledge, or rehearsing. I think they even surprised themselves! Can’t wait to see where this will take us next week! Exciting things in store for this term at Charlotte Sharman.

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