On Thursday 15th March I was very pleased to go along to Green Wrythe Primary School in Sutton to observe one of the dance workshops for Merton Music Foundation and Sutton Music Services' 'KISS' Partnership project. ‘KISS’ (named after Motown’s mantra “Keep it simple, stupid!”) is engaging children from both boroughs with Motown music. Almost 500 young musicians from local primary schools are taking part in the project which focuses on song-writing and creative music-making. A further 100 musicians from Merton and Suttons' more advanced string, jazz and vocal ensembles have received a series of master-classes to explore Motown’s distinctive composition, technical and performing characteristics. Using a selection of iconic Motown tracks, children from four local schools have been working with a professional song-writer or choreographer, producing original songs and dance routines in Motown style.

The session that I observed at Green Wrythe was the fourth and final dance workshop for the year 6 pupils at the school. It started with a group warm up which got everyone feeling enthusiastic, excited and ready to get stuck into the routine they had been carefully rehearsing for the past month. The dance steps incorporated into the warm up by the excellent choreographers, Natasha Khamjani and Derya Donaldson, had been worked on over the course of the dance sessions and it was clear to see that the children had successfully mastered them. This energetic warm up then led into a run-through of the main routine to 'Want you back' by the Jackson 5 which is full of exciting twists, turns and synchronised movement which was delightful to watch!

This session, as well as refining the dance, focused on creating the very last section of the routine. To do this the children were given 15 minutes to work in a group to choreograph a sequence themselves. All children worked excellently together and came up with some impressive moves- including some acrobatics...! The guidance of the two choreographers and some of the school's teachers helped the children realise their ideas and complete the routine perfectly. 

Following this choreography session, the children ran through their dance three more times in preparation for the big performance on Wednesday 21st March which will bring the KISS project to its conclusion.  Overall, I found it very interesting to go along to a dance workshop for one of our Partnership projects, as it was great to see children engaging with music in a completely different way. It is fantastic to see that Merton Music Foundation and Sutton Music Service have enabled the children taking part in KISS to experience a variety of different ways composition can be used creatively, using both musical instruments and dance. After such a wonderful morning I am thoroughly looking forward to the performance, best of luck everyone!

Georgina Skinner

Executive Assistant