Dance Residency at Communication Specialist College, Doncaster
In July 2019, I started my first week-long residency at Communication Specialist College in Doncaster, as part of my Sign Criminal commission. With me were dancers Ariel Fung and Chris Fonseca, and sound artists Chris Bartholomew and Nao Masuda.
Prior to residency, I visited the college three times in April-May 2019 to establish a network and connection with some of the staff and students, and putting on some dance taster workshops sessions so that the students could have a feel of the work I do.
Personally I found this residency to be one of the most challenging and rewarding residencies I have ever delivered. It was the first time I had worked with not only Deaf individuals, but those with special needs too. There were students who were incredibly shy and had such a lack of self-confidence, that by the end of the week, they had opened up - they engaged with enthusiasm and joy that was never seen by the staff before. It was incredible.
When the week-long residency began, myself, Ariel and Chris presented a performance of our work in development: Sign Criminal, to an audience in the main hall of the college. This was followed by an introduction to ourselves, a discussion about the project, and the aims for the week.
Over the course of the week, we offered some taster dance sessions, ice breaker games, and worked together with a selection of students to create some fresh new work in response to our Sign Criminal performance.
We worked with three groups of students - one group assigned to each of us, and in each group we discussed ideas for a performance, began experimenting with movement, dance and theatre, and created some material, which was then presented to an audience of students and staff at the end of the week.
This residency was one of the most challenging and rewarding residencies I have ever done. There were students who were incredibly shy and had such a lack of self-confidence, that by the end of the week, engaged with great enthusiasm and joy that was never seen by the staff before. It was incredible.
Here's what the Assistant Principal Rebecca Loosemoore had to say about the residency:
"Billy was an inspiration to our students, both deaf and hearing and of all abilities. He showed them that through dance and drama they could express their emotions and have fun whilst doing this. We were so impressed with how students who were shy and lacked self confidence and self esteem got involved and enjoyed being part of the workshops. Thank you Billy, we cant wait to work with you again in the future."
"Ariel brought an uplifting and mesmerising energy to the workshops and was really encouraging to students to become engaged in dance and drama. She is an amazing dancer and an inspiration to the young people at our school and college. Thank you Ariel, it has been delightful to work with you."
Rebecca Loosemore | Assistant Principal
Communication Specialist College, Doncaster
For further information about CSCD and the specialist education it offers to people who are deaf, hard of hearing or who have communication difficulties please visit www.deaf-trust.co.uk/college