15 years centre stories | Dance United Yorkshire
BY: Guest Writer
30 Nov 2020
In this post, Romina Thornton, Dance Programmes Manager tells us about the work of Dance United Yorkshire with young people who are not thriving in mainstream education. She explains how they use Arts Award to improve core skills such as literacy and broaden horizons via their connections to the wider professional dance world.
This post forms part of our series celebrating centres who have positioned Arts Award at the heart of their delivery. One of the ways we are marking 15 years of Arts Award.
Who are Dance United Yorkshire?
Dance United Yorkshire positively changes the lives of hard to reach young people and marginalised communities through high quality dance training and performance. We create bespoke dance projects and interventions to meet the needs of different groups of people living in challenging circumstances. Our intensive projects work in collaboration with education providers to offer unique opportunities for those not thriving within a mainstream setting. Around 25 young people come off timetable at their normal schools to attend our five-week dance project Monday to Friday, 10am – 2.30pm, working towards a final performance. It is disciplined but for good reason. We strip away distractions in order to drive the dance forwards.
The journey of Arts Award delivery
After 14 years of delivering Arts Award we have developed our very own programme. Each young person receives a folder filled with tailor-made work sheets that complement the dance. This is worked on most days so there is a natural link between the practical and academic work. Everyone completes the sheets together, which supports our team work approach and ethos. We have found this method to be most effective, considering our client group and time restraints. Often young people come to us with poor literacy skills, but we have a high staff to pupil ratio so can therefore support learners on a one-to-one basis. It’s important to help them on their journey and provide transferable skills to be drawn upon in the future. We want the young people to feel a sense of achievement and be proud of their work. Although structured, there is room for creative input.
Bronze Arts Award stands side-by-side with the dance delivery and is embedded within our curriculum. It is one of the main reasons schools allow young people to come into our alternative provision. By offering the award we are providing the opportunity to attain a qualification and, for some of our participants, it may be the only one they achieve. Every young person will complete a Bronze Arts Award on a project and Silver Arts Award is offered as a progression route. Our young people particularly thrive in the skill sharing exercise (Part D, Bronze Arts Award) where they deliver a dance workshop within a primary school. We fully prepare them for the experience and everyone is given a role. It is wonderful to see how they rise to this occasion and grow in confidence.
As an organisation we collaborate with professional dance companies such as Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures and Jasmin Vardimon Company. The artistic direction with each new partnership often inspires developments within the delivery of Arts Award. Uniting the work of both companies and sharing this through bespoke Arts Award related tasks. We educate professional dance companies about the value of the Arts Award in the hope they deliver the qualifications in future work.
Over the years, we have evolved our offer and have more recently achieved nearly 60 Arts Award Discover certificates during the first Covid-19 lockdown, enabling us to continue our work in the community remotely. Children receive creative packs and weekly garden gate visits from an artist to assist their work. Food parcels are also provided with thanks to funding from the Department for Education.
Arts Award is now ingrained within a large amount of our provision. The levels sit comfortably within our curriculum and complement our ethos of appreciating and sharing work. We truly value the award and are proud to have recently been awarded Trinity Champion Centre status. We will continue to share our work and advocate the value of the Arts Award to others.
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