Discover Arts Award through Dance with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance

Discover Arts Award through Dance with Shobana Jeyasingh Dance

Picture of Layne Harrod

BY: Layne Harrod
07 Oct 2019

In spring 2019, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance (SJD) planned and delivered two residencies in London Primary Schools. The project demonstrated how Arts Award Discover can be delivered through longer-term engagement with partners with an in-depth approach. The company engaged 120 participants in total, exploring contemporary dance and movement in weekly sessions whilst supporting the students to achieve their Discover Arts Award.

As part of our Learning and Participation programme at SJD we regularly run residencies in education and community settings. For these two residencies we were delighted to embed Discover Arts Award, delivering 120 awards in the spring term in total. The inclusion of Discover Arts Award appealed greatly to schools hosting the residencies and helped students to feel recognised and validated for the hard work they’d put in during the eight to nine weeks we were with them.

Primary School residency 1 June 2018 Fr@ Foteini Christofilopoulou

At Granard Primary School we worked with 60 reception students. Weekly workshops, led by two of our company dancers, encouraged students to generate movement in response to Shobana’s 2013 production Strange Blooms. The students created a performance exploring how plants grow, which they presented to an invited audience of friends, family, students and staff at the end of the residency.

At St John’s Walworth Primary we used Shobana’s repertoire and a selection of key movements to devise from. 60 year 3-5 students worked with one of our company dancers to explore the themes of travelling and migration. Their final performance piece mixed Shobana’s existing repertoire with their own devised work, encouraging the students to think creatively about their set curriculum.

PS residency 4 June 2018 Photo @ Foteini Christofilopoulou

Students worked creatively in groups to engage both their mind and body, paralleling the way Shobana creates new work. By the end of the residency the students had connected with a contemporary choreographer, discovered what dancers and choreographers do in the studio and made a creative response of their own, all feeding into the attainment of their Arts Award. Each young person documented their Discover Arts Award journey in their personal folder including: drawings, photographs and written work of both the process and product.

The feedback from participants and teachers was extremely positive:

“Thank you so much for organising the residency at St John’s […] The children and adults were really pleased with the experience and I was delighted to be able to be a part of facilitating an opportunity for them to work with a professional dancer and to express themselves through dance.”

Teacher, St John’s Walworth

PS residency 7 June 2018 Photo @ Foteini ChristofilopoulouAbout SJD

Shobana Jeyasingh has been creating dynamic, fearless and enigmatic dance works for 30 years. Her work taps into both the intellectual and physical power of dance, and is rooted in her particular vision of culture and society.Our learning programme treads the same path as Shobana herself, offering opportunities that are unique, engage both mind and body and encourage participants to create original work inspired by the world around them. We offer workshops, masterclasses, residencies, CPD and specialist projects in a range of community       and education settings.

For more information about our Learning Programme, visit: or contact Verity Richards, Learning Manager:

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