Central School of Ballet brings dance to primary schools in Southwark and Hackney this June

27 Jun 2018

Central School of Ballet, one of Europe’s leading centres for professional dance training, has announced an expansion of its successful primary school dance initiative to include 800 pupils at six new schools in inner London Boroughs.  Participating schools have all received free dance workshops this month, delivered by a Dance Education Specialist that will consist of a dance-focused PE class, using bespoke resource packs.  Dancers from Central’s touring company Ballet Central have also assisted in several of the workshops, all accompanied by a live pianist.

The selected primary schools include two in the London Borough of Hackney; Sebright Primary School and Woodberry Down Community Primary and four schools in Southwark; Michael Faraday School, Riverside Primary School, Snowsfield Primary School and Pilgrims Way Primary School.  In addition, as part of their weekly assembly, three schools in Southwark; Snowsfield Primary School, Tower Bridge Primary and Harris Free School Peckham, have seen a short dance piece by Ballet Central dancers.  The dancers also hosted question and answer sessions with pupils after each performance.

In preparation for this June’s workshops, Central’s Dance Education Specialist Maria Forbes provided each of the primary school’s PE teachers with an INSET (IN-SErvice Training) day.

Mr Shahajahan Ali, Year 4 teacher at Michael Faraday said: “This was a great opportunity for our children to learn about and, more importantly, to try some ballet.  Central pitched the session just right so that it was accessible and engaging, which encouraged the children to practice and perform. The children learned about technical terms in a way that made sense to them. It was great to see learners develop individual moves into a routine, by following instructions and guidance, but, most importantly, with the encouragement to be creative.”

Kadija, Year 4 pupil Michael Faraday aged nine years commented: “The ballet was cool. I really enjoyed doing the turns. The people were fun.

Michael Faraday Head Teacher Karen Fowler added “We are always keen to provide our children with experiences they would otherwise not have.  To work with Central School of Ballet was an amazing and very exciting opportunity that both children and adults really enjoyed.  Probably the best outcome was to discover real talent in certain children who struggle academically – their confidence has soared! We want Central back!!”

Central has been delivering outreach dance projects in Southwark since 2011 centred on the borough’s Alfred Salter Primary School where they offer free dance classes to children from across the borough aged 8-11years.  Central, which provides degree level training as well as dance classes from juniors through to adults, has advanced plans to move to new premises in Southwark.   It is hoped that their new Paris Gardens building, currently a concrete shell waiting the final specialist fit-out, will become a hub for a dynamic dance community for all ages and abilities to take part and watch performances.

Central has a long history of delivering outreach projects to children who may not otherwise get access to dance,” said Director Heidi Hall, “In Southwark these have ranged from workshops with children, to mentoring schemes and training primary school teachers to enable them to deliver dance classes as part of the PE Curriculum.  Our aim is to widen the scope of dance, to ensure that it is accessible to all abilities and ages, from all backgrounds.

Heidi continues: “Our activities in Southwark and Hackney this June are a targeted extension of this work and we hope that the exciting addition of the attendance of our Ballet Central dancers, many of whom are about to embark on professional dance careers, will inspire pupils to continue to dance in school”.

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