Amanda’s current teaching practice with children is as Dance & Movement Artist for CoTA (= Collaborations between Teachers & Artists). CoTA is a San Diego area professional development program focused on making the arts a lively, essential, and ongoing aspect of elementary school education. CoTA is founded on the belief that integrating the visual and performing arts into curriculum content areas promotes engagement, accessibility, and relevance for students.
The film above presents one of Amanda’s CoTA projects in collaboration with a teacher and 2nd grade students at a San Diego North County elementary school.
For many years prior to CoTA, Amanda has worked in the field of creative movement education. She developed creativeDANCE as a way to enable children to develop creativity, confidence, problem solving skills and self-expression.
creativeDANCE focuses in particular on placing the imaginative and creative potential of a child first and foremost, and on nurturing the development of this potential. Younger children experiment with moving on impulse to create shapes and actions, exploring independently and with partners, to develop their own unique imaginations as a stimulus for dancing. Older children develop their movement vocabulary, improvisational skills and choreographic craft. They experiment with various methods for choreographing dances, as an aid to discovering and developing their own creative voice and style.
If you are interested in independent creativeDANCE classes, workshops and courses, please contact Amanda for details of future projects.
Amanda’s Background in Children’s Creative Dance
After training as a contemporary dancer, Amanda performed with European dance companies for over ten years. In Europe, most contemporary dance companies engage in educational outreach work alongside the performance touring schedule. Amanda was fortunate enough to work with three companies in particular – attik DANCE, Panta Rei Danseteater and Bare Bones – that placed a strong emphasis on teaching as a means to inspire and educate young audiences. It was during this time that she gained a strong grounding in teaching creatively focused dance and physical theatre workshops.
As Amanda transitioned away from performing she became interested in the relationship between dance and learning in general. With Arts Council England funding, she established a pilot project in a collective of English primary (elementary) schools, applying dance and movement as a tool to engage children in a kinesthetic learning process and develop their physical and creative skills. For six years, Amanda worked as a dance specialist in over 50 primary schools across East Sussex, England, contracted to the South Downs School Sport Partnership (SSP; UK government funded organisation improving and coordinating high quality sport and dance provision in schools).
Her work in this time included the provision of creative dance classes for children aged 5-11. Classes took place within the school day and were designed to meet curriculum standards for dance and to support student learning across all subject areas (e.g. science, geography, history, literature). Amanda collaborated with the South Downs SSP and East Sussex County Council to produce a filmed dance resource entitled ‘Learning in Motion’ which was delivered to primary schools along with a written resource pack and training sessions for school staff.
In addition, Amanda collaborated with individual classes, schools and consortiums of schools to choreograph performances which highlighted the creative skills of the children. She also co-choreographed, directed and performed in a duet entitled ‘This is How We Do It’ about the art of dance making, which toured into over 30 schools.
After relocating to California, Amanda works within the community and educational environments. With many years experience working with dance and children, she is highly aware of the role that dance can play in a child’s life; encouraging imagination, creativity, self-expression, self-confidence, communication, problem-solving, cooperation, thoughtfulness and critical thinking. She has witnessed enough moments of “Wow, that child has come to life, I have never seen him/her so engaged in something before!” to know that creative movement can be a truly life-enhancing aspect of a young person’s life, capable of leaving a positive legacy that can last well into adulthood.