Inspiration Blog Series: 3
'I have worked in the Performing Arts for many years, as a student, choreographer, performer and now teacher.
Nearly 10 years ago I established ‘JumpStart into Primary School Dance’ as a way of consolidating my experience, as well as defining my renewed focus of working with children and dance.
My practice is a mixture of Contemporary and creative movement and I’m interested mostly in the ways that dance can benefit all – in terms of fitness, wellbeing and lifelong skills.
I work alongside South Charnwood School Sports Partnership to deliver curriculum sessions and the annual Jump2it! Dance Festival, but also offer teacher training, PE sessions, one-day experiences and teaching resources independently.
We also run JumpStart Youth Company, which offers weekly classes and incorporates the Arts Award.
I have always been very rhythmical – my favourite class at my local dance school was tap and although I haven’t done it for many years I always find myself beating a rhythm with my hands, feet, or whatever I happen to be holding! I also love music of a wide variety of forms, ranging from Ska and Classical, to Pop and Funk.
So one of my biggest inspirations is the actual sound I’m using, either when by myself or when choreographing movement for primary school kids. It’s great to come across new artists or songs that you know your classes will love – and I know that if I enjoy to moving to a particular tune, that the kids will enjoy it too.
I like being able to throw in some syncopated beats and unusual timings to challenge the children and I like the feeling of freedom and expression you get with off-beat rhythms – it’s exciting and energising. Also, music creates such a brilliant atmosphere that you can lose yourself in and get enveloped by. Some of my favourite tracks include ‘Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens’ (Louis Jordan), ‘Summer Overture’ (Requiem for a Dream Soundtrack) and ‘Bloodstream’ by Tokio Myers.
Another inspiration that fuels my practice is in the shape of written text. I have a reading obsession and enjoy all sorts of books, from autobiographies to current affairs and children’s books (my 9 year old daughter insisted recently that I read Tom Gates!).
What I love about stories is their power to transport you to another world replete with fascinating characters and unpredictable narrative. I aim to impart this feeling in the classes I teach.
I want to create imaginary worlds for children where they feel safe, nurtured, inspired and completely absorbed. In many ways, modern society has taken away much of the mystique in our lives and I relish the opportunity to provide it in my sessions (I wrote a blog about this recently). Sometimes, I will use direct text from books as inspiration, or specific characters to initiate movement – I recently created a performance piece with year 5s based on the book ‘Clockwork’ by Phillip Pullman and we created a collective dance phrase out of the descriptions of Dr Kalmenius.
Other things that provide a source of inspiration include: dreams and sleep, art (Impressionism, Expressionism, Pollock) and going to see other performances.
One of the biggest pleasures of JumpStart Dance is being able to watch other dance artists at work. It is often isolating as a solo practitioner so I relish these opportunities to observe other dancers’ approaches to working and teaching. Sometimes it is an explanation they have used, or a method of getting the class to maintain focus that reaches out to me. Or it could be a piece of music or an improvisation task they used. Every time I observe a session I feel refreshed, energised and ready to try out new ideas with my own teaching. This is the way I learnt myself – over 15 years ago – by shadowing and supporting experienced practitioners. And I still take pleasure and inspiration today from being able to do the same.
And I am very blessed to have such an amazing pool of dance artists around me in
After reading this blog I wanted to thank Louise for so many links to music giving us direct resources to use but also to draw attention to the work of Louise and her reference to 'consolidation' and 'defining'. From this I have had my own reflections and I pose some questions to you as a Reflective Practitioner....
Do you feel you want to consolidate your work placing it into a supportive framework or 'vessel'?
How do you define your work?
Does having a title or many titles support you? what titles do you give yourself?
Are you more inspired when your work is broad and not interconnected?
How does one piece of work inspire another?
Do you find inspiration within the comfort of similarity or is it contrast of participants, abilities, place, age, venue, balance of technique and creativity that inspires?