Burberry Inspire blog

Published on Friday 29 March, 2019

We are now halfway through the first year of our new secondary school programme, Burberry Inspire. Launched in October 2018, this four year project is supported by The Burberry Foundation and aims to measure the impact of immersive arts and cultural education within schools’ existing curriculum. Since October we have worked in close partnership with two local schools, Leeds East Academy and Dixons Unity Academy where we have provided an Artist in Residence.

Earlier this month, all Key Stage 3 students from both schools were invited to Leeds Grand Theatre for a performance of Victoria. We were thrilled to welcome over 700 students and teachers, many of whom had never visited the theatre before. One teacher commented that several students didn't know that the Grand Theatre existed, and so now they know it is just on their doorstep they might be more encouraged to attend other performances.

‘The performance was a fantastic opportunity for the pupils, particularly those who speak English as a second language because they were able to follow the story just as well as those who are native English speakers. It meant the performance was completely inclusive for our students.’
Teacher from Leeds East Academy

Prior to attending the Victoria performance, all pupils participated in dance workshops in school to introduce the story, themes and characters from the production. Additionally, the Artist in Residence (Dance Education Officer, Philippa Ranger) has worked closely with students and staff at each school to create a dance film which will be screened at a ‘Cultural Runway’ in the summer where each participating school will celebrate and showcase the work they have created over the year.

While both schools have been working from the same stimulus, Inspired Heritage (this year’s project theme), the pieces couldn’t be more different. Leeds East Academy students have taken inspiration from the city they live in and are celebrating their favourite cultural events such as Leeds West Indian Carnival, Leeds Festival, Leeds Pride and sport. In contrast, pupils at Dixons Unity Academy have been inspired by many of the students’ family history during the second world war and have created a narrative dance which includes singing and even a little bit of comedy!

The students aren’t just creating and performing dance; with the guidance of set and costume professionals they have drawn up their own designs which will be integral to the realisation of the films. Students from Leeds East Academy have recorded voiceovers which will be used to create a soundscape for the dancers and students at Dixons Unity Academy have learnt textile skills to create some aspects of the costumes. The project so far has given the young people a better understanding of what goes into creating a performance from behind the scenes as well as those on stage. We are looking forward to continuing our work with both schools and sharing their dance films… Lights, camera, action!

To find out more about Burberry Inspire, visit our webpage by clicking here.