Dancing to a New Beat

As NPTC Group of Colleges temporarily moved to online learning last week, staff and students have been coming together remotely to find new and innovative ways to continue learning and complete work and to challenge and stretch each other.

Principal and CEO Mark Dacey said: “Despite the pressures we are all under I can’t help but be proud of the work being undertaken by staff and students, it is inspirational, to say the least, from students filming their jazz dance sessions to live streaming and webinars, students helping one another and setting up their own support groups to help each other through”.

One of the examples which has been featured on the College’s social media channels is Dance lecturer Craig Coombs’s innovative remote lectures and dance challenges, which have engaged his students in a new way.

Craig explained: “The Neath College dance students have been working remotely for a week and it has proved to be a huge success! They have had specially designed research projects linked to their practical studies, giving the students an opportunity to learn about dance in a whole new way.

“The Level 3 Dance students have experienced live online dance classes and have also been introduced to the world of ‘site-specific’ dance, creating their own solo choreographies inspired by their home surroundings, following in the footsteps of practitioners like Lloyd Newson and Lea Anderson.

“On Friday, the students were due to perform in their end of year showcase, but due to their physical absence from College, they are now working together to edit some rehearsal footage, ready to launch at the exact time that the show was due to begin. This is an exciting time for them as they engage from across the area to work together as One Vision Dance Company.”

Craig added: “As the subject leader and course coordinator for dance, it was important for me to avoid the ‘let’s make do’, attitude during this time. I want to continue educating my students through dance in a way that promotes originality, in a positive virtual learning environment. Dance might be studio lead under usual circumstances, but this is the perfect time to show the world that dance at Neath College is so much more than simply learning the steps. I am excited to explore the teaching and learning of dance in a way that is new territory for us all”.

One of the exciting new ideas for the dance students (and anybody else who gets involved), is the ‘Keep Dancing Challenge’ which was recently launched by Craig. This challenge works in a way similar to the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’; if anyone gets ‘nominated’ to ‘Keep Dancing’ then they have 24 hours to film themselves dancing to ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ by Justin Timberlake. Who knows how many NPTC Group of Colleges students, staff and parents will find themselves nominated!

Craig admitted that he had been humbled by the positivity of the dance students and the messages of thanks from the students and their parents alike. On the last day of college, the A Level Dance students performed dance work for the AQA examiner – luckily before the college stopped face-to-face teaching. That same afternoon the Level 3 BTEC Dance students performed their One Vision Dance Company showcase (due to be performed on April 3rd) to an empty Nidum Arts Centre.

Craig said: “I could not have been prouder of them. They performed their dance work as if the theatre was a full house. Emotions were high, but so was their energy and the dancing was outstanding. At times like these, one thing is certain! Dance at NPTC Group of Colleges has never felt stronger! I owe this to the dedication of my students and the commitment of the dance lecturing team. I hope to see some of them nominated for the ‘Keep Dancing Challenge’ too”.

You can see all the latest work form Craig and his students on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/craig.coombs.98 or on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL0MnSbIhEzybXBCgRloA9Q