Kickstart alongside its female equivalent Fidget provides opportunities for students to gain experience in the teaching of dance and provides extracurricular opportunities to perform to individual classes, year groups and entire schools. Teaching work ranges from singles classes, designed to motivate and inspire groups, to residences where the group work on reconstructions of the company repertoire or the creation of new work for performance, with extracurricular clubs and school performance groups. The companies also offers continual professional development events for teachers.
Kickstart is a dance company consisting of male students from Physical Education BA(Hons), where dance can be selected as a module, and Physical Education BA(Hons) with QTS course. It combines sporting prowess with aptitude in dance and promotes the belief that the rewards of participation in dance are the same regardless of gender, that male teachers of physical education are significant and influential role models with the potential to impact on boys’ attitudes and participation in dance and that masculinity is a broad and inclusive concept within dance.
With these noble principles in mind 12 members of the company set out to Beacon Community College to lead two hours of performance and dance education to almost 100 secondary school students. The dance company started by performing two of their signature choreographies; Rugby Dance and Man Up, Man Down before teaching elements of the dance to the students in smaller groups.
Kickstart member and second year Physical Education BA(Hons) with QTS student Timothy Jones found it an enriching and inspiring experience: “It was the first time teaching dance to pupils and it was great to see the boys take to it wholeheartedly. It was a fun day for all involved.”
The workshop ended an astounding success with Kickstart providing a dazzling representation of the universities good will and promotion of the arts in dance. It was also a great day for the members who gained an invaluable opportunity to gain experience in dance instruction and showcased the skills and choreography they had learnt over the past two years at the university. Plans for future school visits are scheduled in the near future.
Q&A with Frazer Knowles student and Kickstart member
What level of dance were you before you joined Kickstart?
Before joining university and then Kickstart, I had minimal experience with dance as it wasn’t taught in any of my PE lessons at school and was always seen as an extra-curricular activity.
What inspired you to join Kickstart?
I was eager before university to get involved in something new and Kickstart was this new platform for me. I was inspired to join Kickstart half-way through the Dance module in Year 1. I was enjoying the module itself which made me want to do dance more often. I was then approached by Fiona after the module and was asked if I would join Kickstart starting in semester two.
What did you think of the visit to Beacon Community College?
At first, the thought of a visit to Beacon Community College was a daunting concept. This was our first school visit and for most of us, our first time teaching dance to a group of secondary pupils. The feedback we got is that they all fully enjoyed the performances and was eager to get on with learning a phrase from one of the pieces. Teaching to the group of Year 7s was a joy; seeing all the pupils enjoying themselves and taking to the content well was a great feeling. All of the pupils were engaged in the content and the ‘boys don’t dance’ stigma wasn’t present. I think this is due to the amazing members of staff in the PE department at the college, of whom one happened to of been a past University of Brighton student who had worked hard to set up a boy dance company at the college.
Have you had any special guest lecturers?
We have had two guest lecturers so far; both different in contrast, but both excellent in their area and style. Firstly we had a visit from Wayne Sleep who taught us some contemporary jazz which was enjoyed by all the group. We then had a visit from James Wilton; an award winner for his choreography and performances. There was plenty of content during the four hour workshops which were demanding on the body, but a lot of fun at the same time. We learnt plenty of new steps to add to our repertoire for future dances.
Would you recommend it to prospective students?
I would definitely recommend taking part in Kickstart if the opportunity arises. I have been part of the dance company for just under half year now and have enjoyed every rehearsal, performance and school visit. I would advise that you work hard in the first year dance module and hopefully you will get Fiona Smith (Principle Lecturer and Kickstart organiser) asking you to join the Kickstart dance company.