Each ‘school’ meets for 3 hours. During this time they will have separate classes in acting, singing and dancing. We vary the order each week and there is a break between the second and third class for a snack. It may sound like a long time for the youngest children but time absolutely flies!
The groups are divided by age – usually 6-8 (Green group), 9-11 (Blue group) and secondary school pupils (Yellow group). These splits may vary slightly according to the make up of each school. We are able to adjust our class content to meet the needs of each group – and within each group we get to know the individuals well. Acting We work practically rather than theoretically, preferring giving it a go to talking about it! Our acting classes are based on drama games, text work, devising techniques and improvisation skills and are always challenging, fun and extremely popular. As the children progress they learn about different techniques and approaches to drama, characterisation and text – invaluable skills for GCSE!
Not everyone is a budding Nuryev! But being in control of, and comfortable with your body is an excellent basis for good performance. We aim to give children confidence in their movement. Jazz and modern musical form the basis of most theatrical dance these days but most importantly we encourage and support everyone to have go at whatever we are doing. We know that some children are more comfortable moving about than others and we aim to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate fully – stretching the more able and gently encouraging those less enthusiastic. Dance classes are great fun and often loud…
Singing is not just about hitting the right notes (although it sometimes sounds nicer if you do!) – it is also about rhythm, listening, energy in delivery and enthusiasm. We try to work on music we think the children will like rather than what might be best for them. We have found that when the children get enthusiastic about their songs, their singing really takes off. We also focus on the voice in performance – tone, pitch and volume! We have had fantastic results from our voice and singing classes with students showing huge progress from year to year. Themes, Shows and Events. Each term has a theme and objectives. At the end of the Christmas term we invite parents in for an event. this may be open classes, a semi-rehearsed piece (like this term’s High School Pantomime) or a concert of various pieces the groups have been working on. This is followed by mince pies and coffee!
The Spring term is our show term with St Albans schools performing at the end of the term and Hertford starting part way through to put on their production in the summer term. We promise that every child will play a full part in our shows. This means we usually have to write our own pieces. these are episodic to ensure that each group has the stage to itself with enough time for everyone to have lines (if they want them). It is a massive commitment from us but every year we get better and better at delivering. The shows are always enthusiastically received and often parents are amazed at what the children are able to achieve.
Following the discipline of the rehearsal process, in the summer term we take a more relaxed approach. Often we’ll decide in consultation with the students what our objectives will be – and often the children set themselves some very stiff targets! At the end of term we’ll often invite parents in on a ‘less formal’ basis to see what their children have been up to.
Students wear clothing that is easy to move around in. We do have Best t-shirts available from time to time (and very occasionally we give everyone a free t-shirt) but we don’t insist on uniform – children have enough of that during the week! The one thing we do require children (once enrolled) to have is a pair of Jazz shoes which are ideal for our activities. These are available in dance shops and also through Debbie who visits each location every term. Dates of her visits are given well in advance.