Dance at BIS Abu Dhabi Gets Off to a Flying Leap

Mrs Heptinstall–Lowe is excited to share the initial curriculum dance work that the Physical Education Department are delivering to our students:

Key Stage 1 students have been experiencing one Physical Development (Dance) lesson each week. They have been learning about ‘How the body can move’, with a key focus on travelling steps, such as skipping, jumping, hopping, leaping, crawling and rolling, along with creating floor patterns and finding a space. Students have explored a variety of shapes, connecting shapes, isolated body parts and learning the terminology of copying. Most recently Year 1 have been introduced to different levels, whilst Year 2 have been introduced to the natural world as inspiration in preparation for supporting the ‘Into the Wild’ curriculum work in Year 2.

Dance in Key Stage 2 involves one unit of work alongside Gymnastics. In Year 3 students have been getting to know the dance style ‘The Lindy Hop’, a partner dance that originated in the 1920’s and 30’s in Harlem New York. The dance style includes footwork from the Charleston and Tap. In Year 4 students have been introduced to the professional dance work ‘A Still Life at the Penguin Café’ choreographed by David Bintley. The inspiration for the ballet came from Simon Jeffes Penguin Café Orchestra album cover. He looked at extinction and mankind’s responsibility to protect and preserve global diversity. The key aspect of the movement material is taken from ‘The Texas Kangaroo Rat’, who twitches and scampers mischievously. In Year 5 students have been introduced to the musical ‘Bugsy Malone’ a 1976 British production based on events in Chicago in the 1920’s and 30’s. Movement material focuses on travelling steps, gestures, changes in levels, formations and the use of unison and canon. In Year 6 students have been introduced to ‘Contact Choreography’, a sophisticated scheme of learning that uses ideas with a partner, working closely with body tension, balances and lifts.

Dance in Key Stage 3 looks at the professional dance work ‘Captive’ choreographed by Motionhouse Dance Theatre Company. Performed by 4 dancers in a large cage. Captive is inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem ‘The Panther’ and considers how a human, like an animal, can be plucked from normal life and plunged into captivity. Students explore a variety of descriptive words to create their own choreography, work with a variety of choreographic relationships and then press the movement into a confined space marked clearly with tape.

Dance has been developing at the British International School for the last 3 years. However, this year we have the Juilliard-Nord Anglia Education Performing Arts Programme to support our delivery of lessons. The female members of the PE team experienced a 3 hour Continuous Professional Development workshop 4 weeks ago led by our own dance specialist Gaynor Heptinstall–Lowe who is also the Juilliard Regional Lead for the Middle East. Gaynor has used her own professional development that she gained from her visits to Juilliard last year to support her colleagues.

This week, the PE Department will experience a Professional Development workshop led by Salla Sarrikangas our Juilliard Dance Specialist, which will support the delivery of dance to both FS1 and FS2 next term.