Becoming a beautiful swan: my morning with Second Hand Dance at Red Kite Special Academy
I was particularly excited both as a parent of a child with SEND and a dancer myself, I could not wait to see the performance and how the children would respond and interact with the dancers in an immersive way. The children were invited to dance through hand leading, clapping and movement.
I had a marvellous interaction with one participant who laid on the cushions for a while then she came up to me and hand led me around the space, communicating with me nonverbally through touch, no words just movement and a moment of connection with a stranger. This was amazing to see, as some children with SEND can experience challenges interacting with others. Many, like my son, prefer to be in their own world so to share being in her world for a short period of time made me feel like the most important person in the room.
Another pupil sat content and watched her peers joining in, until shortly before the end she stood joining the dance spinning her arms out wide.Some SEND children are sensitive to touch, a simple brush can be overwhelming. It was wonderful to see that even though she didn’t engage in touch, she still played and danced. Feeling like she always belonged.
Many SEND children have self stimulating behaviours eg. stimming such as hand flapping, spinning and pacing, this is seen many times in my house from my son. The children were happily stimming during the performance. The dancers took influence from these unique movements to empower the children to join the dance.
I was so impressed with how the children engaged with the dancers as they had never met them before today. Every moment was an invitation and children who were reluctant to join in the beginning were soon dancing with us and with each other. When the music stopped, one child commented on the dance being like “a beautiful swan”. For 45 minutes we danced, we played, we didn’t always touch – but we did all get to spread our wings.