Creativity and Girls Dancing

Creativity and Girls Dancing

Creativity and Girls Dancing

A report out today by the Royal Society for Public Health, available here examines the role of social media on young people’s mental health and well-being. This report basically shows that ‘social media may be fuelling a mental health crisis’. It is being increasingly  documented that the pressure on young people has reached a crisis point, with alarming rises in mental ill-health and the subsequent negative behaviours that occur as a consequence.

I am writing about this today as I was totally thrilled at the work of my Dartington-based Attik Youth Company last night. Their work was risky, adventurous, challenging, creative and so very exciting. The most obvious part of all of this was the creativity and the risk. And watching them improvise and then create, I began to think about the role of creativity and risk in their lives, and the role that thinking and moving like this can take with respect to supporting them in their journeys through the myriad layers of social media influence, political and educative meddling and a challenging and uncertain future.

Over the past couple of years the creative subjects across school have been mercilessly attacked by a government with little to no idea of the importance and value they play not only in learning, but in learning to learn, to establishing an understanding of culture, that of your own and your wider community and of the power of creativity and thinking, doing and making things differently.

I have written before that my Dartington company have said to me that our 3 hours on a Thursday evening is the only time in their lives they are ‘allowed’ to be creative. So I was reminded last night watching these girls move with such exquisite abandon, focus and commitment that our responsibility to create the conditions within which creativity can happen in this way in greater than ever.

In particular our responsibility to support our young female dancers, in a dance world that is still heavily male dominant in the positions of institutional leadership and with a distinct absence of female choreographers having work shown, is even more vital than ever before.

We have to create this space for risk in making and performing, create the space where everything is possible and the influence of outside negativity and an uncertain future are kept at the door while amazing choreography is being explored.

On a final note, part of the conversation between the girls last night was whether something they had made had ‘worked’ and their disappointment that they felt it hadn’t. I reminded them that while having that sense of whether it worked was important in constructing their dance, what was more important was that in our making space it didn’t matter.  I finished by reminding them that the point of what we were doing was to experiment and play and making dance that didn’t work was as important as that which did.

Creativity and risk need space for all of this, especially in supporting them to be as extraordinary as they can and fulfilling all their amazing potential.

Fulfilling your Physical Potential

Fulfilling your Physical Potential

Fulfilling your Physical Potential

So the Rio Olympics have finished and Team GB did amazing things. I was fortunate enough to have my annual leave coincide with the Olympics, so I was able to watch a great deal. Favourite bits? Women’s Rugby 7’s was awe inspiring, the women’s hockey final a nail-biting extravaganza of skill, stress and athleticism, Mo Farah runs like he is floating, Jack Laugher and Chris Mears in the 3M Syncro diving were outstanding and of course Max Whitlock’s quiet and studied determination in the Gymnastics.

And why am I starting this blog with the Olympics? Because this is a demonstration of what can happen when determination and grit meet funding and exceptional coaching, the meeting of which demonstrates moments of the fulfillment of Physical potential.

These athletes (whether they won medals or not because getting to the Olympics is an epic achievement in itself) have pushed and pushed themselves, their skills, their ability to endure pain, their capacity to understand the impact the smallest changes in training and performance will have on outcome and the ability to make and replicate those changes, and ultimately the focus to make all this happen under the most immense stress and press imaginable.

Our focus here at Attik is one of developing human potential through movement, and the Olympics demonstrates one aspect of that development. What we are interested in is supporting young people to physically explore beyond themselves, to find ways of moving and creating movement that they have never previously experienced, all so they are able to ultimately be the best they can be.

We are making our future dance Olympians, supporting young people to pursue physical experiences that also impact on their learning in other ways, on their capacity to think creatively and to problem solve, to have grit and determination to succeed when the going is tough, and to ultimately pull it all off under the stress of performance.

There is often a divide between dance and sport, but we aren’t so different really. We are all on the journey of fulfilling our physical potential, we’re just taking different paths to get there.

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