01/12/2014

Blame it on the boogie!

A ten from Len

It would certainly have got a ‘Ten from Len’!

House Dance Audience

House Dance 2014. One hundred and twenty young people, boys and girls,inspired to perform over forty dances on a Friday night In a school hall.

House Dance Zombies


Why?
Why is Dance so popular at Park House? Is what we do exceptional, or is this expression of the joy of dance indicative of wider social and cultural norms that have driven individuals and groups to express themselves through this medium for centuries?

I think it's probably the interaction between both.

House Dance

Firstly in Ros Mawazini our students have a brilliantly creative teacher. Of course that makes a massive difference.

What Ros does so brilliantly is to amplify the power of dance to inspire individuals and bring together groups, as it has done since earliest days of human society.

Last Summer's edition of our Personal Best magazine featured the reflections of two of our brilliant young dancers on this. What Luke and Anna have to say is fascinating...

Anna, Personal Best page 20 >>>

Luke, Personal Best page 21 >>>

Dance as an expression of individuality; dance a focus for and reflection of community spirit and wider cultural identity. These young people's insights in fact reflect much of the research on the cultural history and importance of dance.

You see, I've been doing my homework!

Following a drop-in visit to an A Level lesson last week, I've been invited to revisit my teaching (not dancing!) roots to do a session for the students on the significance of Black American dance in the context of the Civil Rights Movement. It forms part of a fascinating contextual studies unit.

As background, I've been researching the much longer term history of dance. And I've discovered, for example, that...

The term choreography comes from the the Greek word choros, where dancing formed the centrepiece of 6th century BC theatre, as well as the opening ceremonies for the ancient games at Olympia. Plus ca change!

More specifically on the brief, it's been fascinating to open a window on an an aspect of cultural history that I hadn't really encountered. The courageously pioneering work of Alvin Ailey in the context of American politics and society in the 1950s and 60s is remarkable...

Alvin Ailey

http://www.biography.com/people/alvin-ailey-9177959

The following link takes you to an exert from him seminal work from 1960. Revelations...

Anna and Luke also make one further key point in their reflections on the power of dance. As well as boosting confidence, it contributes significantly to all-round fitness and athleticism.

Two of our outstanding former students, now enjoying brilliant international rugby careers, credit part of their success in professional sport to skills and fitness levels first developed in the Park House Dance Studio.

Bath and England Centre, Jonathan Joseph...

Jonathan Joseph

And Leicester, England and British Lions Flanker, Tom Croft, with the Daily Telegraph even running a special feature on the role of Dance in his rise to Rugby Superstardom...

Tom Croft

www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/england/8163828/England-v-South-Africa-Tom-Croft-honed-line-out-power-as-gangly-dance-student.html

Perhaps the best expression of all the elements of the power of Dance to inspire at Park House and well beyond is our annual Quantum Leap Festival.  Now in its eleventh year it brings together hundreds of young performers from across the region to perform magnificently together at the Arlington Arts Centre.

Quantum Leap

As the finale, the students join together in a joyfully impromptu performance to the Jacksons' 'Blame it on the boogie'.

And it therefore also offers an appropriate point to end this week's ramblings. All I can say is..

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