Welcome back to the SHIFT blog!
The project is already underway and after our first meeting of teams and countries, we met again in Leeds to set some evaluation methods for our teaching proposal. These evaluation, or testing, methods were offered to us by the specialists from the University of Edinburgh, Wendy Timmons and Mark Pace. The University of Edinburgh will contribute directly to the project in the first two residences through the provision of current scientific knowledge on safe practice in dance. Their current research on hypermobility is particularly relevant to the project, as this is a key physical symptom in people with Down syndrome and is essential for prevention of injury. Later on, they will act as consultants and “external eyes” on the activities, strategies and approaches that the three project partners design. We also have the experience of Louise McDowall, from the University of Leeds, who led a session on dissemination of the Project; what impact do we want this project to have?
In this second residency, each of the companies started by giving a second class to Ability group of Northern Ballet focusing on two areas; alignment and strength. We wanted to share ideas and exercises that we understand can be beneficial to develop these two qualities in future professional dancers. After observing the three classes, the companies came to the conclusion, that we have similar points of view when creating exercises and how to adapt them according to the class environment. In addition, we highlighted key elements to improve the quality of movement such as breath control and the use of imagery or objects that dance students can identify with the meaning of the exercise.
The second day started with some feedback from the Ability dancers. We asked how they had felt and experienced the previous day’s exercises as we consider our dancers a fundamental part of this project. Their voice and what they want to say is very important. In addition to this we carried out our first evaluation of the Ability dancers to check if the system of monitoring progess we had designed was effective and easy to impliment.
After that, the three companies began to define the most important aspects which should being include in the development of a professional dancer ; physical and artistic aspects and the different elements that can be included in a technique class such as improvisation, floor work, work on different dynamics etc. After discussing different points of view we came to five areas that we were going to focus on for alignment and strength; body awareness, ankles, resistance and alignement in the lower body, initiation of movement in the upper body (as a means to explore articulation and alignment), and strengthening through floor work (in all parts of the body equally).
In addition, it was established that one of the principles of this project would be safe practice which allows dancers to develop their dance qualities avoiding any injury or problems that might harm you in the development of their daily lives.
The third day of our meeting was focused on our communication strategy ; deciding on how we would use the blog and social media, finalising a name for the project. How could we ensure we offered high quality content which can help others to develop their own activities ?
Finally Louise McDowall, gave us a session on what is the impact and what kind of impact we want this project to have. It made us consider the different kinds and levels of impact, what is most important for us and the kind of visibility we are aiming for.
Without a doubt, they were three days full of listening and learning. You will begin to see the outcomes within our blog soon.
Thank you for your attention and hope to see you soon again!