Almost 600 pupils, ranging from P1 to P7 and representing 10 local primary schools, took part in the Berwickshire Primary Schools’ Dance Festival in Duns Volunteer Hall last Thursday.
The dance festival is the culmination of weeks of work for pupils, class teachers and PE staff. Pupils work together in PE lessons or after-school clubs to create, practice and perfect their work in dance in preparation for performing on the day. The youngsters performed either creative or Scottish country dance.
Each year, many of the creative dances are inspired by the topics that pupils have been learning about in class, making valuable links between different areas of the curriculum and giving a programme of dances covering a diverse range of themes.
The expressive arts element of ‘A Curriculum for Excellence’ requires schools to give pupils opportunities to experience “the energy and excitement” of performing and being part of an audience. Performing in front of such large audience is an achievement that pupils remember for years to come, and enjoying the pieces shown by other schools is also a huge part of what makes the day special.
The Scottish country dance element of the festival is assisted by Pat Harrower and Rona Burchick from The Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, who support class teachers and PE staff in the run up to the dance festival and provide a critique of each country dance performance on the day.
In the past, the Berwickshire dance festival was just one of a number of such events across the Borders, organised centrally by Scottish Borders Council staff. Following council cuts to staffing several years ago, preparation and planning was taken over by the team of physical education curriculum support teachers who work in Berwickshire primary schools and were eager to see this important event continue to run.
The group meet after school and give their time to ensure local pupils continue to benefit from sharing their work in dance. With only two primary dance festivals running in the Borders this year, in Berwickshire and Peebles, schools in neighbouring localities have begun to express their interest in entering the Duns event.