Date published: February 22, 2017

Dance student creates new show for children

A dance student has helped create a new theatre show aimed at helping young children understand their emotions.

Final year student, Rachel Maffei worked as an apprentice with The Knotted Project and Hawk Dance Theatre to create the Chit Chat Chalk Show – aimed at four to eight-year-olds.

Rachel spent four weeks working with the companies to create the show, which features dance, physical theatre and music, which they now hope to take on tours around schools, arts centres and festivals.

Rachel explained: “It’s intended to take children on a journey so they see someone experiencing emotions for the first time. It shows how you’re allowed to feel angry, for example, as long as you deal with that in a way that’s right. It's about children understanding these emotions and having a healthy balance between them.”

Working with Josh Hawkins, Artistic Director of Hawk Dance Theatre and artist in residence at the University, she performed in the show while it was being developed by taking it to primary schools in Kendal, Cumbria, and helped tweak it following feedback from children and teachers.

Youngsters from the University of Salford’s on-site Busy Bee Nursery, which provides day care for the children of staff and students, were treated to an early performance of the piece in the recently opened New Adelphi Arts Centre’s studio theatre.

The Knotted Project and Hawksdance also ran a workshop for first year students to give them an understanding of working with young children.

Rachel said: “I teach some children in a class outside of university but this was a completely different experience, and it was wonderful to be able to perform to young children and understand how they react.

“I developed so many new skills through this project as well as being able to connect with people working in the industry.”

University of Salford dance programme leader Lisa Cullen said: “For Rachel to have been able to play such a crucial role in this unique project was a wonderful opportunity.

“We work closely with a wide range of theatre and dance groups, providing students with opportunities and consider ways of working they might not have explored before.”

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