Poverty is unfortunately on all our minds at the start of what we all hope will otherwise be a great year for peace-lovers and those who place 'social concern' high on their list of priorities. In spite of many ups and downs, we here in Britain are more fortunately placed than those living in many other countries, and the majority of British students who enrol with us are certainly aware of this. At the same time, Adrian, our esteemed co-examiner, has identified that there are no less than 1.5 million children here in Britain, 'at risk' of poverty or neglect. He has made a detailed recommendation that we apply for charitable status, so that our Task Force 2014 plan to set up specialised after school or Saturday dance clubs throughout the UK will gain real momentum as we enter the New Year. But we do need a more substantial 'student population', especially here at home, in Britain. Poverty as we know does real damage to the morale of children. But there are ways of helping kids to overcome the worst of these effects, by inculcating a sense of self-worth through identifying and helping them develop their latent creative and artistic skills, offering them help with any immediate problems, (such as falling behind at school, difficulties in accepting discipline, trouble making and maintaining strong appropriate friendships.) However, the starting point for providing solutions is not really too far away. Putting back some of the happiness they have been missing out on can turn young lives around far more quickly and effectively than most people realise.
The Joydance™ Method began life in Sydney, Australia, just after WW11. Professor Gertrud Bodenwieser, colleague of Rudolf Laban and expert in his Art of Movement system, felt concern at the artistic deprivation of children living on factory estates in and around the city. She trained a group of us to give weekly classes. The children appeared to thrive, doctors sent along a number of 'disabled' small patients and our happy task of helping 'rehabilitate' them had begun in earnest. In London a few years later a similar process began for us in overcrowded areas south of the city. The final touches to the method were added in St Petersburg, when 'orphans of perestroika' were given new hope of a successful start by a group of highly skilled dancing teachers specially trained by us.
The method consists of a session at least once a week, lasting 40 minutes-1 hour. Joydance™ practitioners keep to the same formula for each – a 10-minute 'welcome warm-up' in which no words are used, just 'a chance to dance' by 'mirroring' the movements of the leader, spurred on by the most rhythmical, danceable music the practitioner can find. Then there is 20 minutes or so of 'quiet time', exploring all kinds of creative avenues which help the children express how they feel, and, finally, about 20 minutes to study and master 'dances for performance.' At the end of each six weeks' term there is a small tea party when parents and friends can enjoy the results.
This is really not at all difficult, our School will guide you step by step. Step 1 is to enrol for the theory-only Foundation Course. You can study this on-line, at times to fit in with your existing schedules, and your first, basic level theory-only diploma is usually achieved within 12 weeks of enrolment. The course is suitable both for the UK and abroad, indeed Joydance™ has already been adapted for Asian dance styles also. During the six basic theory units you will have the chance to design a number of dance-linked activities to help 'children in difficult circumstances' – these are evaluated by your individual tutor for their levels of effectiveness when used as 'therapy.'
The method itself is based partly on Maslow's system of 'restoration therapy', partly on principles of psychomotor therapy, and some basic techniques from psychoneurology. The 'format' for a session, described earlier, is inspired by the Cecchetti classes designed by the maestro to support children studying at the St Petersburg academy, far from their homes and families.
After your theory diploma there are further options. In order to qualify as a Joydance™ practitioner you will next need to enrol for one of the 2 follow-on programmes on offer. (Your individual tutor will advise on which is better for you.) This programme will teach the elements of groupwork, applying non-psychiatric level therapy one-to-one, how to set up a small 'trial' group locally, how to expand this group into a dance club (possibly with help from one or two of your talented friends), and, crucially, how to report to our examiners on your progress towards 'making things better' for members of this small group. If successful, our Full International Diploma will be awarded together with an equivalent diploma from UNESCO CID plus membership. All this can usually happen within 1 year.
There is only one way to discover if this worthwhile profession is right for you. Formal qualifications are not nearly as important to us, if you are a beginner, as a kind heart, willingness to learn and of course an insatiable love for the 'art of dance.' You may take Unit 1 as a trial, if you wish – the full programmes are set out elsewhere on our site. The fee for this is £25, including an assessment of your first written work. If you and your tutor(s) are happy, the balance of £95 can then be paid. Unfortunately we cannot accept payment by instalments.
Again, every kind wish for 2015.
Director of Studies
Member UNESCO CID 29 December, 2014