In early November 2020, Edinburgh hosted a creative workshop in which children (and their adults) experienced the potential of dance for language learning. The workshop was based on the idea of kinetic reading, a technique that blends movement and learning, developed by the professional dancer and choreographer Zoë Leigh Gadd.
During the workshop, participants were led by Zoë through a variety of contemporary dance techniques, movement exercises, words games and poetry in both English and other languages spoken in Scotland. They learnt the ‘Alphabet of Movement’ and explored the poems through dance.
These movement-based approaches to language learning involved a lot of clapping, stretching and jumping, included creative kinetic explorations of one’s names and led to the highly inventive ‘Body Conversations’ explored by children with great enthusiasm, including over lunch and coffee break. The final performance in which participants danced the poem was mesmerising. It was fascinating to watch how the words look when they move and speak through the bodies, even when the bodies were following the wrong hand and the chin or a leg did not listen at all. The motivation was super high, and it was a good workout too – mentally and physically stretching. What’s more, the memory of the exercises and connected to them words lasted long after the event.
The workshop was part of the project, devised by Marta Nitecka Barche, from the University of Aberdeen, and Dobrochna Futro, from the University of Glasgow, in collaboration with Zoë Leigh Gadd and was funded by Creative Multilingualism as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) and supported by Bilingualism Matters, a research and information centre at the University of Edinburgh that specialises in studying bilingualism and language learning. For more details visit: https://artandlanguagelearning.wordpress.com/