Dancing in the style of Richard Alston

By Soph Baty, 6.2

On 13 November, the professional dancer Hannah Kidd came into school to help me, Evie Adams and Mathilda Douglas with our solo choreography, which will go towards our final A Level Dance grade. Hannah previously worked for the Richard Alston Dance Company from 2007-2013. Richard Alston is the practitioner all three of us have chosen to base our solos on and his movement and choreographic style is key to this piece of work.

During the 1.5 hour rehearsal with Hannah, she helped me adapt the way I perform my movements to be more like Alston, focusing the arms and legs within every movement and going further than I thought I could within the solo. I learnt that I need to keep a strong stamina throughout my solo and adjusted small details to help project his style.

Evie said: “I found the session extremely useful. It helped me gain greater insight into Richard Alston’s style. We went through my solo and adjusted small details to help project his style. The main aspect I took away from the session was the contrast between relaxation and linearity in the performance of the piece.”

Mathilda said: “Hannah helped me realise how important the use of focus is within Richard Alston’s style. Richard has many different aspects of dance styles and Hannah helped me incorporate them all within my piece.”

Overall, Hannah’s input helped push all of our solos to the maximum and aided us greater insight into Alston’s style. It was an amazing opportunity for us to receive support and constructive criticism from Hannah who has danced for Alston before. This experience has definitely made a huge impact to how we will perform our movement and choreography within our solos.  

Ensembles impress at annual Cecilia Concert

By Doug McIlwraith, Director of Music

On Monday, 54 students took to the stage of the Oliver Theatre for the first major music department ensembles concert since March 2020. The orchestra had been split into its constituent parts and each ensemble played a short selection of pieces.

An impressive 15-piece brass ensemble started the evening of with energetic performance of a Fanfare by Wagner and Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday. Leela Walton and Samantha Dale had prepared the famous Double Violin Concerto by Bach and they were accompanied by a small baroque ensemble which included support from Lila Levingston and Tiger Braun-White. Soloists and accompanists alike impressed with their confident and stylish performance.

The string ensemble gave excellent renditions of music by Holst and John Williams and a music stand malfunction mid-performance failed to mar their polished performance!  Eight new students had swelled the ranks of the woodwind ensemble which gave a very convincing performance of a Divertimento by Haydn, full of charm and really fine musical detail.

The singers had a slightly harder job as we were only able to have 15 singers at a time on the stage and the choirs are usually twice that size. However the junior singers sang Mozart’s Ave verum with real confidence and the senior singers sang music from the 1500s by Bennet, Victoria and an anonymous madrigal from northern Spain. The percussion ensemble were joined by Shoshana Yugin-Power on the flute and Monty Bland on the double bass for Mongo Santamaria’s Afro Blue, and the jazzy mood continued with the jazz band rounding the evening off with Eddie Harris’ Cool Duck Time.

It was quite an operation to put all this together and abide by the COVID restrictions but the students did brilliantly, aided by the Theatre and Music staff to whom I am extremely grateful.

Match report: 6.1 v Block 5 girls’ football

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

On Wednesday, the Mem Pitch played host to the inaugural 6.1 v Block 5 girls’ football match. Despite some tough playing conditions, both teams approached the game with tremendous enthusiasm and spirits certainly weren’t dampened by the weather!

The Block 5 team got off to a flying start, finding themselves 4-0 up inside 12 minutes. The fourth goal was particularly special, with a superb cross in from the right from Mary Whiteley that was met with an even better header from captain Romilly White, sending the ball into the top corner. The Block 5 side were a constant threat, with Kamaya Nelson-Clayton and Ava Sender Logan regularly making bursts forward, and Skylar Cazac a potent threat up-front.

Half-time was productive for the 6.1 side who regrouped and the second half saw the emergence of the influential Lila Levingston and more space opened down the right channel for the excellent Dora Wooldridge and Martha Clough. It was clear the relatively inexperienced 6.1 side were improving and starting to get used to playing as a team and creating more chances for the ever threatening Phoebe Esdaile.

However, as the final whistle blew, the Block 5 team had comfortably and deservedly picked up the victory.  A really enjoyable game with both teams eager to get back out on the pitch.

Biodiversity update – Moths

By Mary Shotter, Biology Technician

Moths are declining in the UK. Studies have found the overall number of moths has decreased by 28 percent since 1968. The situation is particularly bad in southern Britain, where moth numbers are down by 40 percent. Many individual species have declined dramatically in recent decades and over 60 became extinct in the 20th century.

These alarming decreases in moth populations are not just bad news for the moths themselves, but also have worrying implications for the rest of our wildlife. Moths and their caterpillars are important food items for many other species, including amphibians, small mammals, bats and many bird species.

The reasons for the loss of moths are likely to be many and complex, including changes in the way we manage our gardens, pesticides, herbicides and light pollution. Climate change appears to also be affecting moths.

However at Bedales moths appear to be doing very well. Over the last few months, I have been putting out a ‘light trap’ once a week to attract moths and have so far found just over 100 species, including 4 types of hawkmoth – elephant, pine, poplar and the giant privet hawkmoth which has a 12cm wingspan.

Many of the moth species we have at Bedales are masters of camouflage – such as the Buff tip, which disguises itself as a birch twig and the Flame which has evolved to resemble a broken stick.

My favourite to date has to be the wonderfully named Merveille du Jour which translates roughly as ‘the best thing I’ve seen all day’ –  pictured above (bottom right) merging into lichen on a fence behind the science department.

Many moth caterpillars feed on grasses and it appears that the policy of keeping  areas around the school uncut is reaping rewards for both moths and the many other species that depend on them.

Impressive efforts as DofE participants prepare for expeditions

By Julia Bevan, Teacher of English and DofE Manager

Bedales students have been busy working towards their Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Awards in preparation for the expeditions due to take place in Spring 2021.
 
There are four main sections of a DofE programme: Volunteering, Physical, Skills and Expedition. Bedales students who wish to take part in the expeditions have been asked to complete two sections, provide supporting evidence (an Assessor’s Report is the very minimum needed to pass a section) and for this to be signed off the scheme’s portal, eDofE, by the end of January 2021.
 
Although it is still only November, there has been a fantastic effort from students already. Well done to Kamaya Nelson-Clayton (Block 5), who has been working very hard to complete her Silver Award, volunteering at a youth centre near her home in South London; Issy Robinson (Block 4), who has completed her Bronze Award; Katie Mansbridge (Block 5), who completed lots of hill-walking in the Lakes and on the South Downs during lockdown; Georgie Du Boulay (6.1), who has completed her Silver Award, cycling the South Downs Way and running a social media page for Extinction Rebellion’s Winchester branch as part of her service; and Kit Mayhook-Walker (6.1), completed Couch to 5k during lockdown to go towards his Silver Award.
 
It is tougher than usual for students to volunteer at the moment, but I have been really impressed at the initiative students have been taking to complete this section of their awards. Taragh Melwani and Sacha Weisz Brassay (both 6.1) arranged to volunteer in Bedales’ Outdoor Work department, Thomas Figgins (6.1) volunteers locally at the Petersfield Community Garden, and a number of Block 3 students have been litter-picking.
 
The practice expeditions in Spring are a highlight of the school calendar. Letters with full details of each expedition were sent out to parents of students who have signed up for DofE last week. If your child would like to take part, please let me know as soon as possible, and do encourage them to complete two sections of their award – as a starting point, they may well have completed their Physical section during lockdown, and just need to write it up – and take the next steps to organise an Assessor’s Report, which should be completed by a non-family member.
 
From now until Christmas, I will be available to help if students need any guidance or assistance to complete their sections, and I am looking forward to hearing more about what students did during lockdown. Students can find me in the English Office or teaching in the Orchard Building. If they would like to drop-in at a specific time, I will be available during Badley Time on Mondays, or they can reach me by email at jbevan@bedales.org.uk.

Halloween Fest on Steephurst

By Ava Sender-Logan and Leila Coy, Block 5

On Sunday, we had a belated Halloween party on Steephurst. With lots of volunteers from different year groups, we started setting up at 2pm. Block 4 and 6.1 made a delicious pumpkin soup, while volunteers from all year groups decorated the courtyard with balloons, garlands and stickers. COVID related restrictions meant there were staggered times for students to come and enjoy the festivities. We made a photo booth and poster and there was popcorn, hot dogs, soup, hot chocolate, make-up and temporary tattoos to keep everyone entertained. Despite the restrictions, it was really nice to dress up collectively and share a carefree evening together.

Match report: 6.1 v Block 5 girls’ hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Wednesday saw another round of internal hockey fixtures and the first game of the season ‘under the lights’. Both the Block 5 and 6.1 teams had been particularly impressive in training over the last week or so, but it was the 6.1 team who burst out of the blocks with centre forward Mathilda Douglas looking particularly threatening, putting her team 2-0 up within the opening 10 minutes. A high press from the 6.1s ensured constant attacking pressure and a cool finish from Fleur Donovan, followed by a completion of a first half hat trick from Mathilda, led the 6.1s into the break 4-0 to the good.

The game was in danger of running away from the Block 5s, but a re-group at half time saw a much improved performance and it was the Block 5s who opened the scoring, through the ever dangerous Kamaya Nelson-Clayton. Despite constant attacking pressure from the 6.1s the Block 5 side stood firm with some excellent tackling from Ava Sender Logan and always posing a threat on the counter attack from Zoe Lobbenberg and Kamaya. As the game developed we saw more and more of the increasingly impressive Lally Arengo-Jones and captain, Leela Walton.

Despite the improved performance from the Block 5s the 6.1 team deservedly scored again, once again a fantastically calm finish from Fleur.

The Block 5s are in action again next week versus the Block 4s. The 6.1s will have to wait a couple of weeks before they take on the ‘all-star’ team.

Match report: Block 3 vs Block 4 girls’ hockey

By Kevin Boniface, Head of Hockey

Wednesday was the first competitive hockey fixture of the season with the Block 3 side (pictured above) taking on Block 4. Both sides had started to show some good improvement during their training sessions, so this game arrived at a perfect time and the girls did not disappoint.
 
A competitive game in the best sense of the word saw both teams play with attacking intent and impressive levels of intensity, but ultimately it was the Block 4s’ ability to retain more possession and a better understanding of their team structure that saw them home as deserved winners. However, a re-match is in the pipeline, and with more exposure to the 11-a-side version of the game, it is likely that the Block 3s will pose an increasing level of challenge.

Diversity and Inclusion update

By Abi Wharton, Head of Global Awareness and Inclusion Working Group Lead

In recent weeks, I have been asked – and asked myself – some deeply uncomfortable questions around the issues of diversity and inclusion within our school and society at large. However, I am learning to embrace the opportunity to feel uncomfortable as it is the only way we will be able to move forward and address the issues confronting us all. We are all aware that the past few months have been a period of seismic reckoning in relation to both equality and representation.

Many Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools were called out, quite rightly, by current students and alumni, in the wake of the death of George Floyd and the ensuing Black Lives Matter movement. Bedales is not alone in grappling with what this means in the long term for how we address these encompassing issues and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with colleagues on a micro and macro scale to understand how we all can contribute to calling out systemic inequalities within our society.

Crucially, we must be committed to sustained change with a clear understanding of what our aims and values are. This involves open and honest conversations with all members of our community about where we currently sit and clear clarification of our aims. We need to work both genuinely and collaboratively to understand where conscious and unconscious bias exists and ensure that we are accountable with a commitment to consistently engage in challenging conversations. This will lead us in our goal to develop a positive and inclusive culture open to different ways of working.

Therefore, our actions must match our words and impact must be embedded into the culture of Bedales. Our approach cannot be generalised, hence why I am spending time on understanding what our starting point is. This relates back to asking these uncomfortable questions so we can actively measure our progress. Our intention is to ‘pulse-check’ on a regular basis which involves asking our parents, students, alumni and teachers how we are doing and asking you all to feed in to the progress we are making in creating harmony in uniqueness. As ever, please do get in touch with me if you would like to join this conversation.

One immediate initiative in developing this conversation is ‘We all have relevant things to say’.

Spreading cheer at annual Block 3 Fireside Night

By Lucy McIlwraith, Teacher of English

As the nights draw in and we all remember the reason for the winter festivals that feature lots of fire and warmth, it’s time for the English department to spread some cheer, as we did at the Block 3 Fireside Night last Friday. This is an evening event, at which students and staff are invited to perform memorised poetry, stories and songs in the great hall of the Bedales Dining Room, lit only by fire from the enormous fireplace and a few candles. As it is difficult to photograph an event held in near total darkness, it must retain its mystery, but here is what it’s all about…

The students had been asked to think about life without phones, TVs and electricity, and what homegrown entertainment would look like without those things. Before the Fireside Night, Bedales English teachers had shared their own feelings about performance and how nerve-wracking it generally is. I had also been to the Block 3 assembly to reassure students that no one would be looking for perfection in this kind of performance, and remind them that we all need to forget what we see on our screens everyday, as it is not a fair representation of a live performance.

So, with the fire crackling and candles twinkling, students arrived at a dark hall last Friday to recreate the kind of entertainment enjoyed by our ancestors. Julia started the evening with a haunting rendition of Where the Boats Go by Robert Lewis Stevenson  and then introduced her students: Ivan reciting a Robert Frost poem called Nothing Gold Can Stay and Grace with Babysitting by Gillian Clarke.

The bravery of these first performances was a wonderful catalyst for the others. Later on – having decided they were brave enough –  others from Julia’s class also performed: Freya, with Anne Hathaway by Carol Ann Duffy and Lotty, who chose a powerful poem about Greta Thumberg. Our special guest, Clive, spoke the words of an ’80s rock ballad, making them far more profound in the process, and was, of course, cheered to the rafters.

Mary-Liz’s stand-out performances were from Caspar with Do Not Go Gentle by Dylan Thomas, which was impressive in its sophistication, and Seb, who confidently gave us two contrasting poems – one about death and a comic piece written by himself. As head of department, David might be expected to give the most impressive performance of all but, with terrible irony, his carefully rehearsed speech from Hamlet (in which the title character muses on the excellence of human-kind) flew out of his head. Thankfully, his students made up for his memory loss with faultless performances including raucous group singing from Bay, Leo and Kit.

Louise’s rendition of The Raven was followed by some keen performances from her class. Eliza performed Leisure by WH Davis, fully exploring the poignancy of the poem through her interpretation; Sienna gave a powerful version of one of her favourite poems, A Day by Emily Dickenson with confidence and poise; Hendrix lifted our spirits with his confident performance of the amusing poem, The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay and Alex approached the task with his signature confidence and performed his poem to great applause.

My own class was represented by Shoshana and Xander, both performing classics of the nonsense genre, The Jabberwocky and The Jumblies which provided welcome relief, I’m sure, after my own version of Jolene, a song I might not have performed quite as well as Dolly Parton herself, though not for want of practice. Jen’s classes were last with honourable mention going in particular to Oscar and his hilarious performance of My New Pet and Roan’s stirring and dramatic version of Dulce et Decorum est.

The evening was rounded off with a soulful Let it Be from Zeb, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar which gave us all a wonderful atmosphere to go out on.

Please do take the opportunity to ask students about their experience of the Fireside Night – they were an amazing and appreciative audience and deserve praise for this as well as their bravery in performing.