Ysgol Ty Ffynnon and Theatr Clwyd
“The Duets programme keenly targets children who would not usually have the chance to access or participate in Ballet, offering them a rare chance to engage with this art form and do so within their school environment which is safe, familiar and convenient. Ballet Cymru deliver ballet in a manner that invites participants to explore, discover, be inquisitive and investigate the art form. Eleni are pleased that one of the features of the programme is for the Eleni practitioners to be responsible for delivery of the programme in Flintshire. The collaborative nature of the programme has been evident from the pilot. Eleni will have the opportunity to garner a strong partnership with Ballet Cymru, which will enhance the organisations dance offer in the region. Eleni practitioners will have the opportunity to deliver ballet as well as expand their range of approaches when working with marginalised and challenging groups, which chimes in with Eleni’s wider programme and initiatives.”
Once notification was received that Ballet Cymru was successful in securing funding for the 3 year national programme, training days were organised with Eleni practitioners, based at Ysgol Ty Ffynnon. The Duets toolkit was introduced for the first time and this was ‘tested’ during the training and worked well. The training is not focused on the teaching skills of the practitioners as they are experienced community dance tutors, the focus is on the delivery style and content of the creative ballet syllabus which differs from the traditional ballet syllabus that most practitioners are used to.
Following the training days the selection process took place and 25 talented children, who showed great potential and fit the criteria of Duets, were invited on to the 2-year scholarship programme. The children will participate in creative ballet and capoeira sessions on a weekly basis.
Ballet Cymru worked closely with Eleni during the ‘Explore and Test’ stage. A successful residency was held at Ysgol Ty Ffynnon which gave Ballet Cymru the opportunity to begin conversations with Eleni and the School to discuss the development of the Duets national programme and their involvement.
Ysgol Ty Ffynnon is based in an area of depravation with 17 different languages spoken and 25% of pupils receiving Free School Meals. As this was a new school for Ballet Cymru it gave us the opportunity to test the curriculum and pedagogical approaches (thus supporting the new changing model of the Donaldson curriculum). Two freelance dance practitioners who work with Eleni joined us for the residency and they were specifically invited to attend by the Director with the view that they would deliver the regular Duets Scholar programme at the school. Ballet Cymru felt confident that the right infrastructure was in place to focus on this school to be the first national Duets Scholars programme.
“At the beginning some of the children were a bit unsure of ‘ballet’ being offered but soon understood that there is far more to the word than their initial expectations. All staff involved throughout the residency were extremely professional and polite and worked really well with the children ensuring the children succeeded. Everyone was really impressed with what they achieved in a short time and their final performance on the last day was super. We are excited at the possible legacy we could receive as a school as a result of the residency and the positive relationship we could build between Ysgol Ty Ffynnon, Ballet Cymru Duets Programme and Eleni.
The prospect of the programme discussed is really exciting for us as a school and the children that will benefit from this will be provided with a whole new insight of what they can actually achieve, aiming high with positive aspirations. Our school caters for families who are listed as living in poverty in a deprived area of Wales and for those children to have access or to participate in Ballet would virtually be non-existent, or indeed very limited without the intervention from the Duets programme.”
Headteacher of Ysgol Ty Ffynnon
“An absolutely fantastic opportunity for the school children at Ysgol Ty Ffynnon. My daughter throughly enjoys every session. Thank you for this opportunity and for all the doors it may open and the confidence she has gained from this experience”
The Duets Scholars and families had a wonderful time at Theatr Clwyd when Ballet Cymru and Ysgol Ty Ffynnon arranged a trip to watch Denbighshire Youth Dance Company from Eleni performing a curtain raiser followed by the company perform ‘Romeo A Juliet’ – This was the first time for some of the families to visit the theatre and also watch a professional ballet production.
Ballet Cymru dancers visited the Duets Scholars and joined in their ballet and Capoeira sessions led by Amanda and Hanna. The Scholars enjoyed teaching the Ballet Cymru dancers their Capoeira sequence, watching a demonstration by the dancers and being lifted!
“So proud of how far the children have come in such a short space of time. What an excellent opportunity for all involved”
The Duets Scholars completed their first term of dance with a sharing of ballet and capoeira.
54 family members attended the end of term sharing by the scholars. The children did an amazing job and they have progressed so well over the term.
Ballet Cymru and Eleni were determined that Covid-19 wouldn’t stop us being connected with our lovely Scholarship students.
So with all the safety procedures in place and the go-ahead from the school and our funders, a weekly Zoom dance session is being held specifically for our Scholarship students. The students have a fantastic programme of dance this term led by Amanda and Hanna and it’s amazing to see the young dancers every week, have a catch-up and still keep dancing together.