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WATCH: Dance teachers appeal for classes to restart

WATCH: Dance teachers appeal for classes to restart

Wednesday 13 January 2021

WATCH: Dance teachers appeal for classes to restart


18 dance teachers, and performance school principals, are urging the Government to let them start classes again to help their students' physical and mental wellbeing.

In addition to issuing an open letter, the group has been inviting islanders to share posts about #whytheydance on social media.

The teachers said their letter had been prompted by concerns for their students, whom they described as “the forgotten victims of the unprecedented situation we are currently facing."

Video: Local dancers have shared posts highlighting #whytheydance.

They urged the Government to read through the letter, in the hope they would see the dance studios as “more than a fitness centre and therefore should not be classed as such."

“We are 'Educational Arts' centres who prepare pupils from age 2 - 20 for future careers within the Performing Arts industry,” the letter states.

The teachers highlighted the “immense talent”, noting local dancers have performed on West End shows, cruise ships or TV shows, as well as representing the island both locally and internationally by appearing in films, taking part in competitions or representing Team Jersey at the Dance World Cup. 

“Every year we coach our pupils to compete on the world stage against 62 other countries, and every year our pupils proudly return with Bronze, Silver and Gold medals,” the letter says. 

“Not all students want to make a career in dance; therefore, we enter pupils into examinations to gain our students' UCAS point to help their university applications securing them with a brighter future.”

The group then goes on to highlight how their pupils’ mental and physical wellbeing improved after returning to the studio.

“They have been given goals and had their sense of achievement restored,” they said. “We have all seen first-hand the effects on our students during the first lockdown, especially those without siblings being affected the most. 

“We are aware of many children who have been referred to CAMHS over the last couple of months because of low mood and depression. The waiting list at CAMHS means that initial assessments are not available until June at the earliest. 

“Dance is many people's creative outlet, a way to keep fit, that one hour a week to focus on themselves and take away the stresses or pressures of exams, schoolwork or home life. We believe that opening our dance schools and other clubs will provide a much-needed boost to their mental health and well-being.”

“We have many people from all different walks of life attend our studios,” the teachers added. “From students with severe learning difficulties who don't excel in school but find gratification in dance, we have pupils who are bullied in school but have friends at dancing, children who have tough home lives but find dance their escapism. The list is endless.” 

girlchildsad.jpg

Pictured: "We are aware of many children who have been referred to CAMHS over the last couple of months because of low mood and depression."

The schools also referred to the precautions they had been taking to ensure they complied with the Government’s guidelines, including halving their classes, creating bubbles, deep cleaning their premises daily, wiping surfaces in between classes, and closing changing facilities. 

“These are just a few examples of the things we have done and will continue to do at our studios to ensure our students' safety. Between us we teach 1000’s of students. The dance community is small and close-knit, and to our knowledge, not one pupil from any dance school has contracted covid-19 or had any forms of cluster cases." 

With schools having reopened on Monday, the teachers asked for after-school clubs and 'Educational Arts' centres to be allowed to open soon as well. 

“The STAC has emphasised how detrimental it is for students to be away from a learning environment,” they wrote. “Consequently, their physical and mental wellbeing is unnecessarily impacted and will no doubt affect their life choices.  

“We are all committed to following the guidelines and will not compromise the safety of our pupils. We have GCSE and A-level pupils replying on us to improve their final grades and pre-professional students needing to train in order to gain a place at prestigious Performing Arts school.”

The collective letter comes days after the owners of more than 50 cafés, restaurants and bars have banded together in an unprecedented display of anger towards the Council of Ministers over the level of support offered to their industry

READ: The letter in full…

The teachers and principals of Jersey's dance schools have come together to express our concerns regarding our young people and young adults. We aim to give them a voice as we feel that they are the forgotten victims of the unprecedented situation we are currently facing.

We ask that you read through our letter carefully and hope that you will see our studios are more than a fitness centre and therefore should not be classed as such. We are 'Educational Arts' centres who prepare pupils from age 2 - 20 for future careers within the Performing Arts industry.

For a small island, we are packed with immense talent. You can watch a West End show and find a performer from Jersey within the cast, holiday on a cruise ship and find dancers from the Channel Islands, watch a TV show, and find an actor or singer whose early training started here in Jersey. Our dancers represent Jersey both locally and internationally by appearing in films, competing in competitions or representing Team Jersey at the Dance World Cup.

Every year we coach our pupils to compete on the world stage against 62 other countries, and every year our pupils proudly return with Bronze, Silver and Gold medals. Not all students want to make a career in dance; therefore, we enter pupils into examinations to gain our students' UCAS point to help their university applications securing them with a brighter future.

Since returning to the studio, our pupils have been delighted to be with friends, their mental and physical wellbeing has improved, they have been given goals and had their sense of achievement restored. We have all seen first-hand the effects on our students during the first lockdown, especially those without siblings being affected the most.

We are aware of many children who have been referred to CAMHS over the last couple of months because of low mood and depression. The waiting list at CAMHS means that initial assessments are not available until June at the earliest.

Dance is many people's creative outlet, a way to keep fit, that one hour a week to focus on themselves and take away the stresses or pressures of exams, schoolwork or home life. We believe that opening our dance schools and other clubs will provide a much-needed boost to their mental health and well-being.

We have many people from all different walks of life attend our studios. From students with severe learning difficulties who don't excel in school but find gratification in dance, we have pupils who are bullied in school but have friends at dancing, children who have tough home lives but find dance their escapism. The list is endless. We all refer to ourselves as 'dance families' as that's exactly what we become.

We all have the honour of watching our pupils grow from young children into young adults who then return for visits and classes once they start work or return from university. Dance lessons instil inner confidence and the ability to think quickly; they teach you to conduct yourself correctly and work as a team while improving cognitive development. All skills are essential as future employees of any company in any career path.

To ensure we comply with all guidelines published by the Government, we halved our classes, ensured that bubbles were created, have premises deep cleaned daily, wipe all surfaces in between classes, closed our changing facilities, maintain a 2-meter distance, sanitize on entrance and exit along with having no parents enter our buildings.

We do not share equipment and are all qualified enough to ensure that classes would remain at a low intensity. These are just a few examples of the things we have done and will continue to do at our studios to ensure our students' safety. Between us we teach 1000s of students. The dance community is small and close-knit, and to our knowledge, not one pupil from any dance school has contracted COVID-19 or had any forms of cluster cases.

In light of the schools and youth clubs reopening, we would like to request that the opening of after-school clubs and 'Educational Arts' centres won't be too far behind. The STAC has emphasized how detrimental it is for students to be away from a learning environment.

Consequently, their physical and mental wellbeing is unnecessarily impacted and will no doubt affect their life choices. We are all committed to following the guidelines and will not compromise the safety of our pupils. We have GCSE and A-LEVEL pupils replying on us to improve their final grades and pre-professional students needing to train in order to gain a place at prestigious Performing Arts school.

Yours Faithfully, 

Alicia Parker – Principal of Studio 16
Amber Cooke – Freelance Teacher

Danielle Brien – Principal of Just Move Dance Studio
Deborah Marett – Freelance Teacher

Emma Jane Griffiths – Principal of Emma Jane Dance Academy
Francesca Pim – Freelance Teacher

Heather Scott – Freelance Teacher
Helen Oliver – Freelance Teacher
Jarn–Marie Couley – Principal of JM Studios
Jodie Lee Chipperfield – Principal of Jodie Lee Performing Arts Academy
Kerrie Hudson – Principal of Essential Dance
Kirsten Champman – Freelance Teacher

Laura Reynolds – Principal of Jersey Academy of Dancing
Liz Le Breuilly – Principal of Central School of Dance
Narelle O’Connor – Principal of Silhouette Studios of Performance
Rachel Gillies – Freelance Teacher

Rebecca Giulietta – Principal of Etoile Studios
Paris Nield – Freelance Teacher

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Donal Dolo on
If schools are open everything should open
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