Hazel Oak Aladdin project

Building on a long-standing partnership with Hazel Oak special school, dance artist and Head of Creative Learning Lee Fisher paid another visit to the school on Monday 11 February 2013 for a fun-filled day of creative learning, looking at the themes of fantasy and make-believe. The dance workshops were accompanied by pianist Richard Syner.

Within the mixed-age workshops children developed their own dance motifs based on the characters and themes within Aladdin. The workshops also offered plenty of opportunity to explore other aspects of the story across the wider curriculum as teacher Gaynor Steele explains in her summary of the day:

'Hazel Oak is an all-age special school for pupils with moderate learning difficulties, many on the autistic spectrum.

'We approached the day very much as a multi-sensory experience with the emphasis being on experiential learning which suits our children's style of learning best.

'The background to the day was based on our topic for the spring term which was fantasy and make-believe. One of the key stories we had looked at was Aladdin. So Birmingham Royal Ballet were invited in to help us learn some dance moves based on their "Jumping Genies" programme as it fitted in well with our theme.

'We divided all of our lower school pupils into three main groups, mixing up the ages and abilities so that they got to work with different children and adults. One group would be dancing with Lee with music provided by Richard.

'They all took part in developing ideas and moves with Lee who choreographed their moves with them and created mini dance sequences.

'Thank you for another amazing day of dance... the kids and staff were buzzing about it afterwards!'

'The second group were looking at and trying on costumes and we used role play to make up little stories for one another. The children really enjoyed trying on the ballet masks and costumes. Some took the roles of director, others took photographs. The third group were making a pop up 'genie in the lamp' card.

'While some were engaged in the craft activity, a few children at a time were invited to visit the Arabian tent, which was set up as a sensory experience, with scented joss sticks, soft drapes and cushions, Persian rugs and a taste of Turkish delight. Arabian music was playing and the children could lie in the dimly lit room and relax and enjoy the experience. All groups were rotated and took part in every event offered.

'The day culminated in three group performances to the rest of the school and visiting parents. The children thoroughly enjoyed the day and the dancing was the highlight for many of them.

'The day was a great success and extended and enriched the children's understanding of the Aladdin story. Follow-up literacy work was done in class and the children were able to recall their experiences of the day and develop new stories based on the Aladdin theme.

'We hope to extend the work we do with Birmingham Royal Ballet as it has proved to be so worthwhile for our pupils. Thank you for another amazing day of dance... the kids and staff were buzzing about it afterwards!'