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Jo Dean's blog
The START Project
Since November last year, the Learning Team have been delivering the START project to 21 schools from across the region, engaging children who don’t normally have access to the arts, with ballet and live theatre.
This week is Children's Hospice Week, organised by Together for Short Lives, and the focus this year is ‘making every moment count’. Having managed the START Hospices project that we've delivered for the last two years in partnership with Martin House Hospice in Boston Spa, Children's Hospice Week has made me stop and think about how the project affects the lives of the families who take part.
As part of my role at Northern Ballet I promote accessibility both inside the organisation and externally to our audience. I am responsible for programming the audio descriptions and relaxed performances to enable everyone to access our productions, and I also work with other venues in Leeds to promote accessible performances across the city through Access Leeds Theatre.
Northern Ballet are one of a very few number of dance companies in England to regularly offer audio described performances of their productions for the visually impaired. Audio description of live performances, like the audio description service on television, describes the action using descriptive rather than technical language, for those who cannot see it.
This is the first week of the school holidays and so children and families are out in force at local parks and attractions, making it the perfect time to let people know about Ugly Duckling, our new ballet for children.
Although it may not seem like it with this weather, the summer is here and so our regular classes are drawing to a close for the summer holidays.
To mark the end of term and to celebrate a couple of significant birthdays (I obviously can’t give their ages away, but you wouldn’t believe me anyway as their youthful looks belie their years), our Dancing for the Over 55s class held a picnic lunch after their class this week.
I'm having a good day today – not only because the sun is shining but because I have just been to a lovely Japanese tea morning at John Jamieson School which is a school for pupils with learning difficulties in East Leeds.
Our Dancing for the Over 55s class has been running for almost a year now and is becoming increasingly popular as word spreads of the fun and fitness people get from it. Participants not only improve their dance skills but also form friendships and social groups, so much so that it’s difficult to stop them all chatting at the start of each class!