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Early Years Dance
The power of early years dance activity and the positive benefits on children and their families are being increasingly evidenced. The early years are some of the most important and creative years of a child's life, with movement and dance fundamental in the development of children.

This page offers support, learning, training and resources for those educators, teachers, parents and families, and anyone, who works within early years and with young children, to develop their dance and movement practice. This includes:

  • The Early Years Dance Network (EYDN)
  • An Introduction to Leading Dance for Early Years online learning programme
  • Articles, blogs and videos to inform and inspire you.
Passion for Practice symposium

Spend the day immersing yourself in some of the most relevant, innovative and exciting dance practice happening in the UK today.

Passion for Practice symposium is part of People Dancing's Early Years Dance Network (EDYN). It is brought to you in partnership with Curve TheatreAttenborough Arts Centre and The Mighty Creatives.

Tuesday 19 November 2019, 10.45am - 5.30pm at Curve Theatre, Leicester.

This symposium brings together a wealth of experience and talent from independent practitioners from across the UK, all having a commitment to excellent, innovative dance practice, steeped in childhood research and theory. Together they offer over 160 years of early years dance experience. 

The day is aimed at supporting and developing practitioners and artists working in early years dance and builds on the Early Years Dance Networks strategies and aims in developing dance practice.

It is for dancers, directors and choreographers wanting to use dance with the children they work with or wanting to explore and develop early years participation and/or performance. The day hosts a mixture of practical sessions and talking sessions.

Guest workshop presenters/speakers include: Ruth Churchill-Dower, Liz Clark, Andrew Coombes, Anna Daly, Kimberley Harvey, Louise Klarnett, Jasmine Pasch, Claire Underwood and Family Arts Campaign.

Individual practitioners

  • People Dancing Member: £50
  • Non-member: £55

Organisations

  • People Dancing Member: £60
  • Non-member: £65

Please click on button below to select your workshop choices, register any access, mobility and dietary needs and book your place.

Choose your workshop and book here

 Booking deadline: Thursday 14 November 2019.

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Call out to submit your ideas to lead the Wildcard Workshop!

People Dancing are on the lookout for artists, practitioners and organisations to bring an unusual, imaginative and engaging practical workshop to our symposium that will take place as part of the day.

We are looking for something extraordinary in early years dance practice. Work or approaches that are significant, unique and that have or have the potential to be of national interest and influence to a network of practitioners.

The deadline for proposals is 5pm Friday 27th September 2019 and the successful applicant will be notified by Friday 4th Oct 2019.

There is a fee of £100 available for the successful applicant plus a ticket to the symposium.

More information and to apply

 

Photos: Leading dance for early years, People Dancing's Summer School. Photographer: Rachel Cherry.

Early Years Dance Network

People Dancing are working alongside Associate Artist Liz Clark from Turned On Its Head to deliver the Early Years Dance Network (EDYN) programme for artists and organisations working in dance and Early Years. The network aims to provide dance artists, practitioners and organisations working in early years, professional development, training opportunities, creative discussion and networking, providing a platform to share current research, strategies, skills and learning from across the UK.

Who is the Early Years Dance Network for?

  • You’re a practitioner, researcher, choreographer, Dance Development Officer, producer, educator, director or performer and you’re interested in developing and delivering quality early years dance experiences based in current early years theory and practice
  • You offer (or want to offer) quality early years dance practice whether that’s programmes of activity for families, resource packs, training for practitioners or performances for early years
  • You are passionate about dance as an exciting, accessible, engaging & inclusive artform.

We offer

  • An annual gathering bringing to-gether the best of best when it comes to practical delivery of early years dance and early years dance theory
  • A developing network of venues, organisations and practitioners who all want to see early years dance flourish and to excel in the experiences we provide for early years children and those who care for them
  • A digital space for you to hear, see up to date practice, to be in-spired and to also contribute to the story of the development early years dance globally.

Sign up to the Early Years Dance Network mailing list here

People Dancing's Summer School. Photo: Rachel Cherry.

>   A word from Liz Clark > Please click for text to dropdown

Dance is a child’s first language, from the moment they are born they are seeking connection to, and communication with, the people around them through their bodies. They are learning about their world and their place in it, using movement as a tool. All around us children are dancing; at home, in nurseries and in schools. They are creating and taking part in miniature dances through the rhythms of life; explorations that may go unseen, or witness by only a few people; a movement exploration of an outdoor space for example, or of an empty cardboard box, or a fascinating feather. They are dancing en masse, foot stomping, body flipping, finger wiggling type dances that make our hearts soar with joy.

Our early years children are biologically programmed to move for healthy growth of their body-brain systems. Neural networks form in the brain through physical experiences, and this process is literally how thought connections are made. This is one aspect that’s entirely unique about early years - it spans such a large and distinctive period of development in our children, in both their brains and bodies. The growth that a child undergoes in the first four years of life is incredible and to be able to input into a childs life at this time is a gift we must never take lightly.

Very young children are masters of movement, innovation and creativity. For us as dancers and people who value what the body does and shows us, this offers such a rich and exciting opportunity and endless material for ideas. If you already work in early years, you’ll know the how many times you (or the practitioners you work with) have been surprised by the capabilities of very young children as creators, choreographers, directors and dancers.

If you work in dance already you’ll know that dance can also surprise in the way it transforms peoples experience of daily life and their relationships. For our early years children, dance can have a particularly profound impact on those who have had a difficult start in life. The non-verbal nature of our art form creates opportunities for connection, creation and creativity. Dance can and should lead the way in early years innovation and it’s our role, as adults, to support and encourage each child to explore their world to their full potential and to encourage each dance as it emerges, to burst forth into life in all it’s glory.

This is not youth dance ‘lite’. This is an extraordinary area of work that you need to go into with an open heart, an open mind and ready to be surprised and delighted in equal measure. Liz Clark.

To learn more about People Dancing's Associate Artist Liz Clark please visit www.ourcreativeadventure.com/aboutliz

An introduction to leading dance for Early Years online learning programme

In April 2019 People Dancing launched An introduction to leading dance for Early Years online learning programme which supports artists wanting to develop skills in early years dance. Created in partnership with Liz Clark (Turned On Its Head/Our Creative Adventure) and with support from the Meadowbrook Trust, this, six-unit online learning pro-gramme has been designed to help you gain knowledge so that you can feel confident about creating environments where babies, toddlers and preschoolers can explore with their whole bodies and all their senses.

Please visit the Online learning area of our website for further information.

Photo: Pam Raith.


Articles and resources
In this section there are a number of resources and articles that inform practice and learning for people working in early years. This section will be updated regularly.
Primed for Life resources

Primed for Life website
Primed for Life are advocates for a wider understanding of the body as a child's first place of learning

All about... dance in the early years
Young children’s experimentation with movements is linked to what we later recognise as ‘dance’, say Anne O’Connor and Anna Daly, directors of Primed for Life Training Associates

Itay Yatuv

Itay developed ContaKids based on his experience of contact improvisation. Below is his TED Talk based on his work:

Animated magazine Summer 2017 article

What happens when we move and play together with our infants?
Movement practitioner, educator, trainer and writer Jasmine Pasch describes her approach to working creatively with infants and their families, and the fundamental role of movement in the early years of development

Animated magazine Winter 2006 article

Alfresco - intergenerational performance
Luca Sylvestrini, Artistic Director of Protein Dance describes the process of making Alfresco a large scale intergenerational piece commissioned as part of Danseopolis, Yorkshire Dance's second community dance festival in Leeds Summer 2005

Animated magazine Summer 2003 article

No right or wrong
Being open to new ideas and ways of working, making space for the conventional and the unconventional: Jane Greenfield talks about changing the face of work for children

International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People

Rise and Fall: Stretching the Imagination of Young Audiences 
Written by Caleb Lee & Chloe Stephens 

People Dancing Blogs & Voices
Dance meets science to explore touch
On meeting a prominent neuroscientist, Kath Kimber-McTiffen, of Wriggle Dance Theatre, could see that the theme of ‘touch’ not only links the arts and science… it might also create a beautiful, interactive dance piece
Sonshine, written and edited by Hayley Grove and Kirstie Beaven - writers, feminists and parents of boys

Introductions: Andrew Coombs
"There are very few men working with early years" meet Andrew Coombs, Artistic Director and CEO of Hackney Children’s Theatre

pacey - professional association for childcare and early years

My home as a playground
Helen Battelley, music and movement, blog on supporting physical development in the home

Our Creative Adventure - blog

Movement - a child's first language
Liz Clark's blog about meeting Sally Goddard-Blythe, author, lecturer and Director of The Institute for Neuro-Physiological Psychology, who’s work she deeply admires

Fitzwilliam Museum - blog

Dancing Together at the Museum
Nicola Wallis and Ruth Clarke's blog about what happens if we bring our bodies to the museum … along with our heads and hearts?

Get in touch
We are constantly developing new ideas for the sharing of early years dance practice. Do get in touch if you'd like to contribute or tell us about your work - email louise@communitydance.org.uk