Free dance resource unveiled for teachers

A new teaching resource to help educators explore themes of diversity and inclusion through dance has been unveiled by Shrewsbury Folk Festival.

The 21-minute step-by-step guide on how to structure and deliver a workshop for primary school children has been published on the festival’s website for teachers to watch.

The film, produced by Wem based Media Active, is one of the final outcomes of the festival’s Room for All initiative, which aimed to promote cultural diversity and introduce a new audience to different music and dance traditions.

During the 18-month project, it has reached more than 500 children across Shropshire and Staffordshire with activities including music master classes from folk and world musicians and dance sessions blending Kathak, an expressive form of Indian movement, with contemporary dance.

There were practical dance training workshops for teachers and ongoing support for the Shropshire Youth Folk Ensemble and a junior rapper dance team at Trinity Primary School in Ford, both of which were established during the festival’s previous community project All Together Now.

Room for All also commissioned The Passerine, a collective of refugee and migrant musicians, which performed at the festival in 2017 and 2018, exploring and celebrating diverse world cultures and themes.

The overall project has been funded by the festival, supported by a £95,000 investment from Arts Council England and a £1,000 Arts Revenue Grant from Shropshire Council.

Project manager Joy Lamont said: “This film has been devised to guide teachers through a workshop for KS1 and KS2 children under the National Curriculum.

“Combining folk dance with contemporary dance, it can be incorporated into the timetable for lessons in dance, fitness or culture and shares important messages about friendship and acceptance.

“We are delighted with what has been achieved through the entire Room for All programme to celebrate diversity and raise awareness of other cultures here in our corner of rural England.

“It has also helped us teach a new generation about traditional English folk arts, thereby ensuring they remain preserved and practiced.”

Leanne Walsh, Assistant Head Teacher at Radbrook Primary School in Shrewsbury, said: “The children really enjoyed taking part in the project. Not only did it enhance their understanding of different types of dances but they also developed the skills of working collaboratively; improving the quality of their work and developing sequences based on personal experiences.”

John Rowe, Head Teacher of Trinity Primary School, said taking part in activities had brought several benefits.

"Children gained so much through working with professional musicians and dancers,” he commented. “They were keen to learn and to share their ideas, working well as part of a team. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The after school rapper club that we have set up this term is already proving popular." 

Access the teaching resource here: or
More about how Room for All has been inspiring a new generation: