Dance students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been sharing memories of teaching some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in India the joys of performing together.
The six students – Shannon Coote, Rebecca Marsh, Rosella McNally, Kristina Mirzojeva, Paige Tayla Mitchell and Shannon Thurgood – visited the slum of Ramapir No Tekro in Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, to teach communities everything from Western contemporary dance to Zumba.
Leicester-based Moving Together Creative Dance Company, which is run by DMU graduates Emily Bolton and Sophie Hocking, worked with them on the trip which was organised through DMU’s Square Mile India charity.
DMU Square Mile India draws on the skills and expertise of students and staff to offer support and raise funds for children living in a special lodge alongside the slum.
During their week, the students took a dance session with ‘sisters’ who make their living from collecting rags to sell for recycling as well as children in the ashram. The teaching culminated in a show performed by the children for a delighted community.
Two DMU Governors, Hilary Cass and Marcia Saunders, also went on the trip to experience the work being done by DMU Square Mile India and, along with the students, said it was something they will never forget.
Here is what the students and governors said about their experience.
Paige Tayla, first year Dance BA (Hons) student:
“This trip has been a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will always remember, and will always be so thankful for. I have learnt so many different teaching skills during the trip and feel as if I'm ready to take on anything.
“I have also grown an incredible amount as a person. I have learnt to appreciate my entire life on a whole new level. I am so blessed that I have never had to struggle for education and I think that everyone should be given the opportunity to experience something like this.”
Shannon Thurgood, second year Dance BA (Hons) student:
“Spending the week teaching dance India has been amazing. There were so many unforgettable moments spent with the kids, their excitement and enthusiasm blew me away – at times I couldn't even match it!
“I learned so much from this trip… mainly language skills. It felt so empowering to be able to communicate with the people we were working with. Dance is my favourite art form and is a universal language everyone can use.”
Kristina Mirzojeva, third year Dance BA (Hons) student:
“It’s hard to describe or put it into words what we have experienced and decide what I liked the most about it. There were just so many amazing moments! I knew it was going to be incredible but it definitely exceeded all my expectations.
“The people in the community were so welcoming and the children were absolutely brilliant. They were so hard working and full of potential. The best thing about this trip is that we weren't just teaching over there, we were learning as well.
“This trip was 100% one of the best things I have ever done! I can only hope that I will be able to go back there again.”
Rosella Mae McNally, Dance BA (Hons) graduate, currently studying MA Performance Practices:
“Across each of the different communities we worked with throughout the trip, every child has made an imprint on my heart. It was a phenomenal experience to be involved in helping these children to develop their movements.
“It was a privilege to share my passion for dance with people who had so much energy. Their laughter and smiles were contagious and I found myself completely smiling all day, every day. I have recently graduated from the Dance BA (Hons) course and this trip has helped me put into practice what I learned throughout my degree. To be able to do this while making an impact on someone’s life was a truly unforgettable experience.”
Hilary Cass, Governor of De Montfort University:
“The trip to Ahmedabad with the DMU dance students and Moving Together made me so very proud to be a part of this incredible university.
“Although I have been to India before, this was by far the most enjoyable trip, combining the ‘feel good’ factor of being with our wonderful DMU team, and the extraordinary dignity, resilience and generosity of the local children and families who gave us such an open welcome to their community.”
Marcia Saunders, Governor of De Montfort University:
“This was my first trip to India. What an astounding and absorbing country of beauty, energy and contradictions.
“Our DMU dance students and Moving Together were magnificent in their skill and wholly dedicated, working largely in the slums as well as the ashram, planning their programmes, using their energy and displaying such talent that even in a country where dance is ‘in the blood’ they were catalysts for engagement, laughter, learning and development for children, older people, and the communities’ own teachers. And as the students themselves say, it was entirely reciprocal.”
Posted on Tuesday 17th January 2017