Free workshop for teachers offers insight to traditional dance

Shropshire teachers are being invited to take part in a free workshop aimed at encouraging a new generation of children to learn traditional English dance.

The day-long session at Trinity Primary School in Ford on June 15 will give primary teachers an insight into how to combine folk dance with contemporary hip hop and how it can be incorporated in the timetable for lessons in dance, fitness or culture.

The workshop will be led by folk musician and dancer Damien Barber and members of Breaking Tradition as part of Shrewsbury Folk Festival’s Room for All project.

Room for All aims to promote cultural diversity and introduce a new audience to different music and dance traditions. During the course of the 18-month programme it has reached more than 300 children across Shropshire and Staffordshire. Education activities have included music masterclasses from folk and world musicians and dance sessions blending Kathak, an expressive form of Indian movement, with contemporary dance.

Breaking Tradition will lead also workshops for the junior rapper dance teams based at Trinity School to learn new figures, dance tunes, and clogging on June 14. The teams were formed during the festival’s previous All Together Now project.

Further practical dance training focusing on exploring themes of diversity and inclusion through dance will be held for invited primary school teachers on June 27 at Theatre Severn’s dance studio. It will look at new ideas for teaching dance in the classroom at both KS1 and KS2.

The festival is making a film to support staff to teach dance as part of the National Curriculum that will available as an online teaching resource on its website later this summer.

Room for All is 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 that working with schools was an important part of the overall Room for All initiative that included new music commissions and world music programing at the festival.

“Room for All aims to raise awareness and celebrate cultural diversity in an exciting way. The widespread educational outreach has given us the opportunity of delivering some top quality provision to a younger audience whilst sharing important messages about different traditions.

“Helping teachers to reinforce those messages through their music and dance curriculum is vital if we are to continue preserving and sharing our traditions for years to come.”

Head Teacher of Trinity Primary School John Rowe said: “Our children, many of whom had no experience of folk music or dance, have adored learning rapper dance.

“It’s been a really fun and dynamic way to get them active and learning lessons about our culture and others. I’d urge other teachers to join the free CPD session and find out how they can use this in the classroom for their pupils’ benefit."