Hello! My name is Emily Robertson and I am a contemporary dance choreographer and performer. As a choreographer my practice is currently focused on exploring methods to translate works of art into dance. I also run workshops in schools around the country that teach elements of the curriculum through dance and movement, a practice called ‘kinaesthetic learning’. This method offers students a new perspective in which to interact with their school work. It gives them an opportunity to bring their thought processes out of their minds and into the space in front of them and offers them the ability to translate those thoughts into something physical and tactile. It is a practice that is on the rise in dance education, and whilst aiding students in grasping their curriculum it also nurtures creativity and teamwork skills.

The world of visual art can feel inaccessible to school students, and quite often interaction with high art is not something that happens outside of the art classroom. Therefore, I have teamed up with the Learning and Participation department at the De La Warr to formulate workshops and CPD sessions for students and teachers exploring the exhibition IN A DREAM YOU SAW A WAY TO SURVIVE AND YOU WERE FULL OF JOY, curated by Elizabeth Price.

For the CPD session on 30th January 2017, I wanted to offer the teachers a ‘toolkit’ to implement kinesthetic learning in their classrooms. I ran the CPD session as if they were students, so they could have an immersive experience of the session and discover how it feels to learn kinesthetically for themselves.

After an obligatory round of tea and cake, we entered the gallery space and began to move! I led the teachers through a lesson plan filled with tasks that required them to move, think, explore and create around the artworks in the exhibition. In one particular task, the teachers created physical ‘dream stories’ for Edward Onslow Ford’s Snowdrift (1901) and Gavin Turk’s Nomad (2002). After a few bouts of giggles and nerves, the teachers began to work in groups to create physical dream stories exploring each sculpture. I was genuinely blown away by the artistry and commitment to the movement the whole group applied to the tasks. I could tell they were beginning to explore the concepts of the artworks through this new perspective and may have even surprised themselves with their beautiful physical creations.

After the CPD session, the group had a lovely air of teamwork and creative achievement about them. We played, danced and laughed but also learned how to interact physically with complex artistic concepts and make them tangible and fun to explore. I hope their students have as much fun exploring these tasks in the classroom as we had in the gallery!

Posted by Laura Sayers on Monday 20 February 2017