Sixty primary school pupils from Aberdeen, who have been taking part in a four-month programme to learn about dance and its wider benefits, will have the chance to see how it all comes together on stage when they attend Scottish Ballet’s performance of Cinderella at HM Theatre this week, thanks to funding support from PCL Group.
The theatre visit is the culmination of two unique residencies delivered by Scottish Ballet at Walker Road and Kaimhill primary schools in association with local trusts.
The residencies saw the company’s Education Officer Miriam Early and musician Adam Stearns work with two groups of 7-11 year old pupils at each school to give them the opportunity to experience dance and music at first hand, to improve their understanding and appreciation of dance as an art form and to learn how it ties in with other aspects of their lives.
The pupils and their teachers were also provided with resources and cross-curricular class and activity plans to help them develop literacy, art and design skills and which highlighted health and wellbeing. They worked through a series of tasks individually and in groups, working collectively to contribute ideas which culminated in a performance which they organised for other pupils.
The project concludes this week when the pupils and their teachers head to HMT where they will have a chance to meet a dancer and see some of the costumes before attending the performance.
Experiencing the arts at an early age has been shown to bring many benefits for early childhood development including increased capacity for communication, confidence and creativity which may make a positive impact on preventing antisocial behaviour in children in later life. Dance also encourages exercise and physical activity and brings associated health benefits.
Jeanette Forbes, CEO of the PCL Group, said: “We were delighted to help support this project. It was the first opportunity many of the children had to experience dance workshops and live theatre and it also gave them an opportunity to look at some of the wider issues which they might face in their lives. A residency such as this brings many benefits for the pupils and their teachers and attending a live performance is the perfect way to round it off. We wanted to make sure that the visit to the theatre was part of such a fantastic learning experience.”
Catherine Cassidy, Associate Director (Education) at Scottish Ballet, said: “The main focus of our Education programme is to ensure that people of all ages and backgrounds can engage with dance and the creative arts. School residencies offer children the opportunity to experience dance first hand.
“These projects are vital and we wouldn’t have been able to do them without support from sponsors and local trusts. PCL Group has kindly helped by providing some of the funding and their donation has enabled us to help improve the children’s understanding and appreciation of dance as an art form, as well as how it can tie in with aspects of their education and lives.”
Eleven-year-old Phoebe Lawani from Kaimhill Primary was one of the pupils who took part.
“The ballet residency was really good because we got to dance and learn about instruments as well,” she said. “The leaders put it together really well because first we learned about the dancing then the music which was interesting to see how these things came together. When it came to the final performance, which we performed to the school, it was nice to see how we had got better; we learned from our mistakes and worked together as a team. We were all looking forward to seeing Cinderella. It was good to see how our dances related to the professional one.”
Sean Rafferty, Primary 7 teacher at Kaimhill said the pupils had loved the experience from beginning to end: “It was fantastic to see the children engaged in each of the activities and the workshops really allowed them to express their individuality. They enjoyed a range of tasks across the curriculum including art and design, literacy and health and wellbeing. It considerably promoted their team working and communication skills and the performance at the end of the residency was to a high standard.”