Evidencing Treasures - creative evaluation to support dancers with moderate learning needs
BY: Guest Writer
26 Nov 2018
This summer Corali Dance Company delivered Arts Award Discover as part of a four-day summer intensive of creative workshops for dancers aged 14-24 with moderate learning disabilities. Corali’s Producer, Zara Rush, shares how Arts Award inspired a deeper reflective and accessible evaluation process during the project.
The ‘Are You Ready’ intensive was set up to advance our professional development offer for young dancers. It was part of a wider outreach project which worked to create a way for us to:
- Build strong relationships and share specialist skills with local Special Educational Need (SEN) schools.
- Identify young people who could benefit from our ongoing activities.
- Refine progression routes through our weekly engagement programme.
To build the intensive experience, the creative team began by setting clear aims that aligned with Corali’s working ethos that allowed dancers to:
- Discover and create movement using different art forms
- Get to know Corali and their work
- Experience how professional artists work
- Learn more about the arts and how it can support their understanding of day to day life
- Reflect on and record their learnings
- Share and celebrate their discoveries
Inspiration from other art forms
We work contextually and for this project we took inspiration from the summer exhibition at the Horniman Museum titled ‘Colour: The Rainbow Revealed’. This context, together with our identified aims, provided the structure for us to build a full and exciting creative experience for the dancers.
Evidencing - Folder of Treasures
The embedding of Arts Award Discover into this project enriched our reflection and evaluative methods. We nurtured a creative approach to support the participants in building their portfolios, or as we called them ‘Folder of Treasures’. This inspired dancers to map their journey and treasure their discoveries. We did this by integrating regular ‘reflect and share’ sessions into daily activities, leading dancers through a series of provocations. Dancers then responded using their preferred medium of communication (spoken word, gesture, drawing, written word, sound) during guided sessions which gave them support when it came to documenting their reflections.
We also built group tasks, where we collectively created a mind map on the theme of colour, with the young people participating in activities. Participants created pattern mosaics and colour merge paintings that were inspired by the artist Gerhard Richter, which were then used as a basis to create movement phrases.
A key focus of the ‘reflect and share’ time was to provide space and support for dancers to discover and identify with their own strengths and daily highlights; as well as what they found most challenging. It also provided a safe platform for dancers to individually share and take ownership over their findings. The project culminated in a short sharing and celebration of the dancers’ discoveries to parents, family, carers and friends.
On asking the dancers to share what they had discovered through exploring colour and movement, they expressed:
‘I connected to the colour blue, it is a soothing colour to explore in movement.’
‘My favourite colour to work with was green because it made me think of the jungle and make moves inspired by that’
‘I liked finding out about how we use and see colour in our everyday lives’
‘We took the dance sequence into the colour wheel garden at The Horniman Museum and I felt confident dancing in front of people visiting the museum’
2018 has been a big year for Corali – we became one of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio Organisations, it’s our Artistic Director’s 25th anniversary with the company and we’ve been delivering Arts Award for 10 years! The Discover Arts Award fitted seamlessly with this project and provided a great goal for the dancers to work towards. To further our work with Arts Award we are now embarking on an Action Research Project in 2019 with A New Direction in partnership with Garratt Park School in Wandsworth.
To find out more about our work, take a look at our website www.corali.org.uk.