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QUESTIONS IN MOTION

Why are we dancing in a library?

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January 27, 2023
Stories in Motion was born as a result of funding from Calderdale Council and Calderdale Community Foundation

An action shot from the second week!

Why are we dancing in a library?

A few months ago, during a zoom meeting Sam proposed a question to me – would I like to lead a children’s session in Elland? My answer was simple: an emphatic YES!

Stories in Motion was born as a result of funding from Calderdale Council and Calderdale Community Foundation, and Sam’s goal to run an open, accessible movement class for children in partnership with Elland library.

As with all things here at Curious Motion, this is not simply an after-school program, but instead a space where children and their families can interact, make friends, and see what the library has to offer. From my perspective it’s also a very creative class to lead, as the theme is always around stories and exploring the characters, themes and morals that they contain, all through dance!

At the beginning of our first session, we started off with around 8 children, already playing and chatting with one another, excitedly asking what we were going to do. 

‘Eight’, I thought ‘That’s not a bad number for a first session…’

Then another family arrived, then another, then another… Soon we had a fantastic 20 children dancing with us, ranging from babies in arms to 13 year olds! Quite a lot of the families I recognised from our Happiness Lab showcase in July, many of them members of St Augustine’s Centre, which provides support for people seeking sanctuary.

We explored ways to move as if we were the sun’s rays getting bigger as the new year came in, we pretended to have little robins flitting around the room, and we became snowdrops slowly pushing up and out of the ground. The young people did wonderfully, and those that were understandably shy were gently helped by Sam to take a ribbon and join in at their own pace; ‘We’re going to dance over here in the corner!’ she called cheerfully.

As the class came to an end, parents chatted and children played. Sally, our connection at the library, appeared with a big pile of books from the library that she thought might be useful for basing lessons on. 

I’ve now got into a routine of planning the lessons around the books at the library, something that will hopefully encourage the children to explore the other stories and activities the library has to offer. Having a strong relationship with the library and what it stands for is a big reason why we’re running the session there; families that come to attend the class can also take the opportunity to use the other library facilities and the services they provide, gaining access to computers, printers and photocopiers as well as the huge array of books. Libraries are one of the few remaining spaces we have where there is no expectation to spend money, and are, in my opinion, essential to maintaining kind, resilient communities.

There’s a great article by Neil Gaiman, one of my favourite authors, in which he discusses the importance of stories and libraries:

‘…libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.’

Freedom is not something that children, particularly children who have experience of life’s challenges, get to experience very often, and it is my hope that Stories in Motion can provide them some of that freedom to express and use their imagination in ways that they choose. I think it’s a word that applies to the ways in which we’re running this class too – the ideas of the children directly inform how we run the sessions, and I’m excited to see how they evolve. 

Stories in Motion is proving to be a very popular class, and so we’d like to hear from people to see whether they’d like another session to be available later in the year. If you’d like to contact us please email hello@curiousmotion.org.uk with your feedback, thoughts, and also the age ranges of the children you’d like to attend. 

If you’d like to read the rest of Gaiman’s article you can find it here:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming

In the meantime, I’m off to plan my next lesson based on ‘Show and Tell’ by Rob Biddulph, a wonderfully funny book with a lovely moral about the wonder in the everyday… And a bit about aliens!

Isla x

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Isla Hurst

Questions in Motion Author

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