My arts or creative practice (including details about my specific focus within that art form/practice and my strengths)
I have been running an inclusive dance studio since 2014. Inclusive dance, also known as integrated dance, is part of the disability culture movement, which recognises and celebrates the first-person experience of disability. Inclusive dance choreographers have high artistic expectations of all dancers with an emphasis on exploring dancers' unique ways of moving. Inclusive dance not only embraces diversity but thrives on it. Our work in schools would focus on the DanceAbility method, a unique dance method founded in 1987 by Alito Alessi and Karen Nelson and has been under Alito’s leadership since 1989. DanceAbility uses improvisational dance to promote artistic expression and exploration between people with and without disabilities. Our work is beneficial for all students, whether there are students with disabilities in the class or not. The movement exploration promotes creativity, relationship building, fitness, confidence and teaches about the importance of diversity and difference.
My track record of experience and success - or the track record of experience and success of the creative or artist that I will partner with
I have completed a Masters in Dance Studies. In addition to teaching dance and movement at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Science, I was awarded the Caroline Plummer Community Dance Fellowship. During my time as the a coordinator for the South Island Dance Network I organised the Dancing Like the Stars programme. The focus of the programme was on providing dance opportunities for lower decile schools. My dance studio has performed at the Undercover Artists festival in Australia, The Body Festival (Christchurch) and the Dunedin Fringe Festival. We have presented at various conferences. All of my classes and workshops are co-taught by a para-Olympian gold medallist in swimming. She is someone I have danced with the past 12 years. She also teaches our brand-new class for young people under the age of 15.
Describe the experience you have had working with children or young people, teaching or facilitating creative processes
I have taught dance to people of all ages from five through to 85. Predominantly I have taught dancers aged from about 16-50. I worked with young people over the age of 12 within my role as the Queer Support Coordinator a university. I ran a social group for Rainbow young people. In my current role as the Senior Advocate I work with young people 18+, as well as more mature students. I support young people to thrive while studying. I co-teach inclusive dance senior classes, which are open to anyone over the age of 16. My co-teacher teaches our newly established junior class, the age of the dancers being about 11 years. As mentioned earlier, I coordinated the Dancing Like the Stars programme, which was aimed at intermediate-aged school children. I did not work directly with the students during the programme, instead I coordinated the dance teachers who would be going into the schools.
Why I want to be part of the Creatives in Schools programme and how my involvement will link to my creative practice
I want to be part of the Creatives in Schools programme because all young people should have the opportunity to be creative and explore different art forms. Inclusive dance has the power to challenge ideas about what dance is and who can dance, and I would enjoy the opportunity to share this with young people. The Creatives in Schools programme will allow me to continue to explore my creative practice, which focuses on inclusivity, ability, and collaboration. Working with young people to find ways to collaborate with others, include group members in meaningful ways, and discover their own individual strengths will help to grow my own practice in exciting new directions.