Family Dance - Welsh Course
Improving the Welsh language abilities of the Eleni team
As an organisation operating in Wales, Eleni wants to help all members of the team to feel able and confident to use Welsh wherever possible.
Over a period of six weeks, Eleni’s Dance Practitioner & Project Co-ordinator, who is bilingual and teaches through the medium of Welsh, held a series of dance-focussed Welsh language workshops in February and March 2021 for some of our freelance dance practitioners who are not already at least reasonably fluent in Welsh. These skills were then consolidated by delivering online Welsh language family dance workshops, on the theme of jungle animals.
With Eleni operating in north east Wales, and there being a lack of dance practitioners delivering through the medium of Welsh, the organisation is keen to promote and use the Welsh language wherever possible. By learning and reinforcing these words, phrases and sentence structures, our dance practitioners will then be confident using Welsh more often and more regularly in their delivery of dance sessions across north east Wales. We hope that this, in turn, will encourage those who participate in NEW Dance’s activities to feel more confident in hearing and using Welsh, and for more Welsh-speaking participants to join us.
• Increased ability and confidence within the Eleni team when using Welsh
• Promotion of the Welsh language within Wales
• Increased provision of Welsh language dance provision for Welsh speakers in north east Wales
Claire began our Welsh learning by leading the bilingual workshop that we would eventually be delivering, and we “took part” as participants. It was an amazing way to start the weeks because it showed us our end product and aim, but also allowed us to see that it was doable and enabled us to realise how much we already understood.
The class was taught section by section, and in a very manageable way. I found myself leaving the one-hour sessions fully understanding and remembering the focus of that class. Even during weeks when I was busier with other things, the dialogue and structure stayed with me.
Claire led us through specific physical memory exercises, chosen because they are shown to help you remember more than if you were to just read or write the information, and that appeared to be true.
During the Welsh workshop with the families, I was over the moon with how much the class content had sunk in and came naturally to me throughout the workshop. The children and families responded extremely well to the games and movement exercises and clearly enjoyed themselves.
The most challenging part was working online with a co-leader. We had some technical issues with music as this was a new way of working, but that didn't dampen the atmosphere of the workshop, and we resolved this.
I found this approach to improving my Welsh to be very positive.
Eleni at HMP Berwyn
Eleni partnered with HMP Berwyn in Wrexham to provide dance and performance opportunities to the residents.
In February 2018, Eleni began the first of our partnership projects with HMP Berwyn, a men’s prison in Wrexham. The projects were set up to give the residents the opportunity to engage with dance sessions and perform a piece created by the participating group to their peers and staff at the prison. The purpose of the projects is to promote physical and mental well-being amongst the residents, for them to increase skills such as commitment, confidence, teamwork and resilience, and to provide a new experience for many of them, who may not have danced before.
The prison environment is, by its very nature, a unique set of circumstances in which to work, but the dance practitioners have relished the opportunity, with one of them describing it as a highlight of her career to date. The main difficulties associated with the project are the necessarily restrictive rules around bringing equipment into the prison, and the transient nature of the resident population.
Feedback from the participants shows that the project goals are achieved for many of them – we have received comments such as “…it really brought us all together”, “I felt a bit out of my comfort [zone] but soon got into it”, and “makes me smile”.
• Performance by participants for their peers and staff at HMP Berwyn
• Partnership with Fallen Angels Dance Theatre to provide transitional pathway from dance in the prison to dance in the community
• Increased confidence and teamwork among the resident participants
We held planning meetings before and after each session, leaving us feeling organised and ready, and the workshops ran smoothly and professionally, with clear aims and objectives. We communicated well with one another and incorporated ideas from both of us. We took it in turns to lead certain tasks so that neither we nor the participants became complacent about the quality of the work produced.
We were flexible and always challenging new participants to move forwards to meet the level of the class rather than moving back to basics each week. We saw huge progression in the short time we were there. Some of the participants said the workshops were their favourite part of the week.
The two-hour sessions were very active, with no time to allow engagement and energy levels to drop. The participants were fully engaged and got stuck in to the tasks, often asking to try again or requesting certain exercises.
From the comments and feedback we had from the participants, we know that the workshops were inspiring to them. They were encouraged to link their movements to emotion, spoken word, and imagery, and they liked the contact work, camaraderie and buzz of the team work presented in the space.
The final piece was presented to the participants’ peers and staff at the prison, and it was very well-received, with the group’s hard work and commitment being clear to see.
We look forward to being able to proceed with the next instalment of sessions, once the public health situation improves.