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Inspire Festival Workshops with Coda Dance Company at St Theresa’s Catholic Primary School

Inspire Festival Workshops with CoDa Dance Company at St Theresa’s Catholic Primary School

Led by Artistic Director and Choreographer Nikki Watson,  CoDa Dance Company is a London and Surrey based contemporary dance and physical theatre company that aims to enable people from all walks of life to experience and engage in dance in a fun and accessible way. We deal with real life issues and allow people to engage in social and political issues through dance participation.

Nikki Watson of CoDa Dance Company has been working with St Theresa’s Catholic Primary School Pupils. Working with 22 Year 4, 5 and 6 girls, we have been investigating some important and pivotal points of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham in the 1960’s at the time of the formation of the Borough.

Music Exploration: During Week 1, we worked together with the school pupils to listen to some of the popular music of the 1960’s. The pupils of St Theresa’s were able to identify that there was a theme of revolution and change within the words of the songs. It was a time of change in society and this shows through the popular music of the time. We played with songs such as “My Girl” by The Temptations, “My Generation” by The Who, and “Keep on Running” by the Spencer Davis Group. We identified that all of these songs had a feeling of change. We related this to the social change within the Borough and the way in which people felt about their lives and how they could have an impact on moving forward.

We related this to the revolution of change and how women at the Ford Factory were no longer willing to work for less than their male counterparts. To contextualise this, we discussed what it would feel like at school if boys had more rights than girls.

Picture Exploration: To further contextualise the joy that women felt at being granted better pay (not quite equal to their male counterparts – but more than they had received previously), we looked at a number of images taken at the time after the strikes. The images showed joy and had a feeling of great excitement around them. Individually, the pupils took these images as inspiration to create a short movement sequence. The pupils then went into small groups, and we combined their movements and actions to create a longer movement sequence. The pupils then agreed what music they felt reflected their movements the most, and we put them together to crate a short piece of dance.

The pupils were able to express at the end of the session what we had investigated and how this was reflected and represented in the dance piece.

As the sessions go on we will continue to work on this feeling of joy and revolution as a celebration of women’s rights and equal pay. The pupils have expressed how important this point in history is and how that has had such a positive impact on their lives today.

Time permitting, we would like to be able to explore 3 parts of dance:

  1. Pre-stikes and inequality
  2. The Strikes
  3. The celebration of being granted better pay

This whole exploration allows the pupils to explore their history creatively, and to engage in creative activity that they have ownership over and can be proud of their achievements to perform in front of an audience at the Inspire Festival.