Taking dance into Manchester schools

28 November 2018

Earlier this year, Company Chameleon was proud to be welcomed into Manchester’s cultural portfolio, receiving funding from Manchester City Council to develop the dance offer in our home city over the next four years.

The first year of cultural funding allows us to provide a free two-hour workshop to all Manchester Secondary Schools, with the central aim of inspiring more young people to get involved in dance activity and to connect with the Company.

Company Chameleon’s Dance Development Artist, Amber Calland, is leading on the workshops, and as Autumn draws to a close, we touchbase with Amber to find out how she’s being getting on.

1. So Amber, which schools have you got dancing this autumn?!
So far, I’ve visited 10 schools across the City of Manchester, involving over 250 young people. Schools that have got involved include Abraham Moss Secondary School (workshop pictured above), Manchester Communication Academy, Dean Trust Ardwick, Chorlton High School, Whalley Range High School, Parrs Wood High School, Manchester Enterprise Academy, The King David High School, Newall Green High School and Eden Girls Leadership Academy.

The workshops are free and both fun and physical with a strong focus on self-expression and creativity, offering the participants a unique insight into the Company’s work, distinct movement style and creative approach.

2. Tell us about the workshops so far.
Delivering the workshops has provided me with a real insight into how dance sits across Manchester’s secondary schools. I have been blown away by the individual energy and creative input that each group of young people have brought to the workshops.

The sessions delivered have highlighted the incredible talent of Manchester’s young people despite the difficult circumstances that dance, and the arts, are facing in the current educational climate.

The experience has allowed me to form new relationships with many passionate young people and teachers across Manchester, and I look forward to continuing to grow and develop these relationships over the next few years.

3. What kind of feedback has been received so far?
The feedback has been really positive. Over 90% of participants have rated the workshops either 4 or 5 stars and some of the comments that the young people have fed back have been really lovely to hear. One pupil said, “It was very fun, and I got to do what I love without anyone judging me 🙂” whilst another said “I feel like I have learnt new ways to express myself.” Hearing this feedback makes my job a total pleasure!

4. Why does taking dance into schools matter to Company Chameleon?
Company Chameleon are incredibly invested in making Manchester more of a dancing city. The work we are doing in Manchester schools, along with our brand-new studio space, allows us to create a richer dance ecology through engaging more people in dance on a range of levels. The funding from Manchester City Council is allowing us to make a bigger footprint through dance and share its positive force as an art form.  Our workshop offer allows us as a company to give back to the city which fostered our own individual passions for dance and contributes to the development of dance across Manchester – this is really exciting!

Are you a Manchester secondary school that would like to get dancing? To book a free dance workshop for your school, please contact: amber@companychameleon.com

The Manchester schools programme will continue in the new year and soon will offer Primary schools and community groups the opportunity to engage in a free workshop, as part of our ongoing aim to develop the Company’s identity across Manchester and get more young people dancing!

Watch the video of a workshop at Abraham Moss Secondary School for a little taster (see below).

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"10 was such a wonderful experience - I cant wait to see more of your incredible work!" "Effortless grace, strength, humour and athleticism - a visual treat!" "We brought 65 young people to your performance tonight - every single one loved it! What an amazing show!" "This show reminded me why I dance and what I’m constantly working towards! Thank you for this experience!" "Such beauty in the small moments of this show - please don't stop doing what you’re doing"

Wow, what a brilliant Autumn UK Tour of 10!  We’ve enjoyed every minute and can’t believe it’s over!

It’s been amazing to receive such wonderful comments, thank you to everyone for their feedback.