Lîla Dance workshop – perspectives

On 11 and 12 November, Abi Mortimer, co-founder of the Lîla Dance company, visited Bedales to deliver a two-day workshop for Dance students. Here, the students who took part – Mathilda Douglas, Anna Tasker, Phoebe Kane-Moss and Lucy Albuquerque – share their experiences.

By Mathilda Douglas, 6.2
Abi helped us to choreograph for our 6.2 A Level quartet, going towards the A Level Dance exam. On the first day, Abi took us through two warm-ups that we thoroughly enjoyed. One was all about warming up the back and legs, and the other was to do with floorwork and getting a close connection to the floor by moving freely. Next, she taught us three motifs, which were small sections of movement which are included throughout our three-minute dance. These were quite technically demanding for all of us, using different parts of our bodies in different ways. On the second day, we used all the motifs in a variety of creative tasks. Abi choreographed a whole group piece, also with the use of different choreographic devices, bringing the piece together using some very fast-paced music.

By Anna Tasker, 6.1
During the two-day workshop, we had to quickly learn difficult and original choreography, perform creative tasks on our own, build our stamina and step outside of our comfort zones. I had never done anything like this before, and I had no idea how challenging it would be! I gained insight into what it is like to be a serious Dance student, as well as the accomplishments and hurdles that come with it, which is especially useful as a student who is new to the world of Dance.

By Phoebe Kane-Moss, Block 5
Working with Lîla Dance took me out of my comfort zone and allowed me to experience new choreography techniques. The piece we created gradually got easier as we rehearsed it and by the end, I felt confident performing the new movement. Particularly, it broadened my ideas in the creative process. Going forward I have now developed new ways in which I can choreograph movements using alternative and interesting body movements.

By Lucy Albuquerque, 6.2
Throughout the workshop we learnt new techniques in an hour-long technique class in the mornings. This allowed me to imrpove my stamina, as well as learn new movement that I can include in my choreography or use to develop my dancing as a whole. Throughout choreographing the group piece, I have learnt that it isn’t so challenging to choreograph and piece. This includes the fact that I discovered a piece can be built from a foundation of three motifs quite simply. The warm-up routines and group piece allowed me to widen my dance vocabulary as it gave me a different view of dance and a new and interesting perspective on how dance can be performed, taught and choreographed.

Dance companies are so important to dance students as they can expand a dancer’s knowledge and understanding of dance in general, as we experience with the Lîla Dance company last week. The workshop also gave us a preview into what dance is like full-time, as we were dancing from 9am untl 5pm. This pushed us as students because we aren’t used to doing that on a daily basis, however it was extremely rewarding. The two days of dancing was such an amazing experience and there was a lot that we learnt and were able to take away and apply in our dancing and choreography.

Bedales Dance and Drama – a year in review

By Hayley Cole, Head of Drama and Liz Wood, Head of Dance

Despite another challenging COVID year, the Dance and Drama department have had another incredibly busy and successful year and we wanted to celebrate those successes with you.

All components of the Bedales Assessed Course (BAC) and A Level courses were completed, including practical units by all students on the courses. Schemes of work were adapted and students made video projects as practical assessments in lockdown, and when we have been in school, performance assessments have been recorded as evidence and shared digitally rather than visited by external examiners, or in some cases, rather than being viewed and appreciated by live audiences. This really allowed the students to gain skills in areas that would not have looked at previously.

We have still put on four co-curricular productions, adhering to restrictions and delivered in different mediums – whether to a closed audience live, live-streamed and shared afterwards, or shared as an entirely digital production. Our peripatetic lessons have continued online and live, and exams have been taken. Our enrichment programmes have culminated in performances, with the students concluding the hard work they have put into it after pausing projects during school closure.

We have all learned new skills and adapted our skillset to navigate these uncertain times. Yet we have grown from it, consistently certain in our determination to stay creatively challenged and celebrating the area we love – the arts.

The Autumn Term included BAC Dance and Drama assessments. The Block 4 and 5 dramatists performed devised work influenced by Greek theatre and practitioners. The dancers worked on live performances in the style of a multitude of practitioners, from August Bournonville to Alvin Ailey. 6.2 actors performed their re-enactments of classic texts in the style of Brecht, Ad Infinitum and Forced Entertainment. The Autumn Production was Constellations by Nick Payne, a beautiful two-hander about a relationship, love and quantum physics. The artistic interpretation of this play was created due to COVID, and yet practically and artistically was so much more exciting because of those creative choices. Block 5 and 6.2 actors appeared in multi-roles, in duplicate casts, complimented by 6.1 dancers who personified the themes and emotions of the piece, through their use of movement. It was stunning and the chemistry of the actors was incredible, despite the metre plus distance between them at all times!

The Spring Term was a digital one. BAC Drama students performed their stories in The Terrible Infants as recordings, editing and adding live music in the style of Kneehigh. At home, the Block 4 dancers continued to work on the sofa dance, choreographing in their own homes ready to bring it alive, and the Block 5 dancers rehearsed group choreographies together online, for each of them to create a dance-film based on an array of different stimuli. The dancers also took part in online external practitioner workshops to keep them moving.

The 6.2s acted their naturalist Rotterdam as a screenplay and the Spring Production of Machinal was made in to a film. The students were sent green screens, rehearsals took place on Microsoft Teams, the crew researched costume, hair and make-up and the actors sourced it at home, filmed themselves and the footage was spliced together and edited to make the final piece. It was released episode by episode in half term but if you did not get a chance to watch it, click here to enjoy it, episode by episode, or all at once if you prefer! The playwriting enrichment writers also completed the 30-minute original scripts which were entered into the National Theatre’s New Views competition. 

The Summer Term saw us back at school collaborating together and attending the theatre once more. Bedales Dance Performs saw 21 of the dance pieces that the students had been working on over the year. They included performances from all year groups and including one of the modern peripatetic lessons. View and buy photos from Bedales Dance Performs here. The students were incredibly excited to get back into the Theatre and perform their work, and even though there was no physical contact within the choreographies, this did not stop them performing with passion, focus and commitment.

The A Level final evidence was collected and recorded. 6.2 dramatists created two incredible devised performances and performed a Berkoff piece in the studio and a Footsbarn site specific promenade performance. The two student directors finally picked their projects back up again and Nay Murphy’s Definition of Charisma (which was longlisted in the National Theatre’s New Views competition) and August Janklow’s True West were both enjoyed by closed audiences in the Drama Studio. The finale of the year, including a cast and crew of over 60, was Chariots of Fire, full of actors and dancers, which was incredibly well attended and well received at the end of term. 

A huge thank you from us to all the students and staff who have gone above and beyond to make all of the above possible and professional. It is your tenacity and talent that makes us so proud of the Dance and Drama department, especially in the face of adversity and we look forward to a new year, with all the new skills and insight we have gained. 

Celebrating International Dance Day

By Liz Wood, Head of Dance

Students across all year groups explored the world of Dance through different creative ways last Wednesday in celebration of International Dance Day and they are still going. Issy Robinson from Block 3 researched the Kukri dance, a traditional Nepalese dance that the Gurkhas perform. Rowena Le Poer Trench has been looking at the healthy eating of a dancer, particularly following advice from Canadian fitness coach/dancer Maddie Lymburner, Rowena has made a short film which shows a particular smoothie that is recommended. Imogen Wright watched the online performance of Dust by Akram Khan, whilst Charlotte Land – along with her sisters Izzy and Phoebe – explored counterbalance shapes, and Hannah Mazas created a short film at the dinner table with her brothers Elio and Josh.

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