Hello dear readers! I’m Louisa, founder and dance teacher at Collective Motion Dance. I’ve started this blog to give parents /carers /professionals interested in dance some ideas for creative dance activities at home and to chat about how dance can help us, in many areas of our lives.
But who is Louisa? What does she know about dance?
I started dancing as a child at my local dance school, like many do. My parents enrolled me in dance classes to try and ‘bring me out of my shell’. Fortunately, my parents were wise owls!! and I’ve built a whole career off the back of that one decision. Throughout my career I’ve been dedicated to providing opportunities for others to experience dance and build their own confidence.
I went on to study for a dance degree at Roehampton Uni (go Frobel Zebras!!) and while I was there, I was introduced to the inclusive dance company; Candoco. If you’ve not discovered them yet, Candoco are a professional dance company who work with dancers who have disabilities, alongside dancers who don’t have disabilities. I was fascinated by the way that Candoco focused on the creative possibilities each individual dancer could contribute, rather than concentrating on things that dancers couldn’t do, treating each dancer as an equal. This opened up the world of inclusive dance for me and inspired me to write my dissertation on this!
After graduating I worked as an LSA in special education, where I realised I had a gift for teaching, so went on to complete my teacher training at the Royal Academy of Dance.
I enjoyed a 9 year career teaching GCSE, BTEC and A-Level dance in secondary schools and colleges, alongside teaching ISTD Modern and tap privately. Throughout my time in education, I’ve kept up my community teaching, working with adults who have learning difficulties.
Then everything changed when I became a parent…
This little munchkin changed my priorities (as I’m sure some of you have found too).
I no longer had the energy to endure endless goal post shifting, or the drive to complete the mountain of paperwork associated with teaching or the resilience to find out if my courses had been cut each September. To be honest, my work-life balance was pretty poor and something needed to change.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved (and still love) my time in the studio with students and wholeheartedly believe that dance has so many benefits, whether you end up on the West End stage, or not. So, I set out to create work that complimented my family life, while encompassing my love of providing others with opportunities to benefit from dance.
So, Collective Motion Dance was born!
We are passionate about developing dancer’s confidence. Many people struggle with this, including me. I was a very shy child, often found hiding behind my mum’s skirt. I was so shy in fact, that I refused to speak to my Reception class teacher at all, to the point where I was referred to a Speech and Language Therapist. That was until my parents enrolled me in dance classes. Dancing and performing developed my confidence and I’ve seen many of my student’s’ confidence blossom through dance over the years.
All of our programmes are designed and delivered with inclusive teaching methods. Everybody, no matter how old they are or whether they have a disability can participate in our classes. Even if you profess to having two left feet, we will find a way to get you dancing! Don’t believe me, just ask my husband!!
Our programmes include:
- Stepping into Stories: preschool dance and storytelling classes, which introduce children as young as 1 to the world of dance. These develop their pre-dance skills (roll, run, jump, turn, skip etc). Classes use creative dance, play and storytelling to explore well known stories.
- Curricular and extra-curricular dance in schools: a range of dance styles enabling children from various backgrounds to access dance, regardless of cost.
- Young people and adults with additional needs: providing opportunities for dancers with learning difficulties/ disabilities to express themselves, keep fit, relax and feel part of a community.
Celebrate personal achievements
We teach positively and celebrate successes, big and small.
For instance, if a toddler refuses to take their shoes off and then does it after 3 weeks that is celebrated!
…or if a young person struggles with eye contact and they meet their partner’s gaze for a moment within a class, that is celebrated!
…or if a pupil has successfully auditioned for the local panto, that is equally celebrated!
Fun, lively and structured classes
Many of us thrive within a structured environment, me included! We aim to follow our dancer’s interests and needs, so we have flexibility within a structure.
Positive learning environment
We aim to use positive language and positive classroom management strategies, so that our classes are a supportive and nurturing place to learn. We care very much about each of our individual dancers and that they believe in themselves. After all, when dancers feel safe and secure, they are more likely to be ready to learn.
Over the coming weeks and months, I aim to share my experience with you all, so that you can enjoy the power of dance too!!