Dance and Film: Cynefin – Week Five

This week, dancer, actor and teacher, June Campbell-Davies came in to work with the children on our Cynefin Project along with Marcus and Nick from Redbrck Production Company.

Following introductions, June told the class about her parents’ experience of coming from Grenada in the West Indies to the UK post-war, part of a Dance Troupe called BeeWee Ballet. It was wonderful for the children to hear in person from June about how her parents found the dramatic change and contrast of moving to UK and living here.

The children were intrigued by the camera, and seemed to enjoy being filmed. Marcus and Nick patiently explained how the equipment works, and spoke a bit about their own experiences of setting up the company. There was a serendipitous moment when we discovered that Marcus’ head teacher was Betty Campbell, and he was able to tell us a little about her from his own childhood memories.

June treated the children to a small part of her performance ‘The Suitcase’ that she created about her parents’ experiences of coming to the UK for the first time. The props reflected the time and culture, and the suitcase is a replica of the one her mother brought with her when she first arrived. Hearing and seeing this gave the children a valuable window into another important aspect of our Cynefin timeline that we could explore if there was more time: the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people of choosing to come to the UK after the war to live and work. It also gave the children an idea of what is possible in developing their own scenes.

June went from group to group to get an idea of what the children had been working on. Even though it was a few weeks ago, the children remembered the role playing scenes they had devised, and this gave June a foundation to work with. She helped each group to think about ways they could extend and expand on their scenes, making suggestions about characterisation, gestures and actions.

Even children who sometimes struggle with collaboration found a role in the scenes, and seemed to be fully immersed in the process. It was impressive how hard the children worked and concentrated throughout the day as there was necessarily lots of rehearsal as they practiced each scene in sequence ready for the final filming. With June’s expertise they were able to slow each scene down and add dramatic expressions and gestures, still with minimal dialogue. At the end of the day, we had a final run through of all the scenes, culminating in a grand finale in which they formed a crowd gathered around the statue of Betty Campbell.

While three groups worked with June, the others began repairing and painting their clay models from last week ready for the exhibition in Llandough Hospital. For our final week we will be preparing the boards to be hung in the exhibition, choosing and arranging work and Marcus and Nick will be collecting footage of the work made during the project so far, along with the children’s descriptions and responses. They will then edit a short film to be shown in our final evaluation day with other schools and practitioners, and in the exhibition (online version).

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