We invited Eleanor initially in August 2017 as one of the artist-in-residence at Abbeyhill Primary School to devise a dance show with Primary 1 pupils as part of our school-wide Dazzled project which culminated with an exhibition and a triple-bill public performance at the 12th Colony of Artists festival finale. Dazzled was inspired by Ciara Phillips’ Every Woman dazzle ship – our school-wide partnership with Edinburgh Art Festival.
Building on the success of the initial residency we invited Eleanor to undertake another short dance residency with Primary 1, 2 and 3 in August and September 2018. The newly devised piece entitled The Adventures of Maisie and Friends was in memoriam of Aileen Paterson – one of the first resident artists at the school. It was the highlight at the festival finale dedicated to Mrs Paterson and her long-lasting legacy as part of the 13th Colony of Artists.
Eleanor’s third dance residency at Abbeyhill Primary School began with a day trip in April 2019. The artist revisited her Alma Mater and brought the entire Primary 5 to her former Dance Studio at the Holyrood campus of the University of Edinburgh for a masterclass with the US step dance maestro Nic Garries! Nic shared his passion for all things percussive dance since he was 9 years old! He even taught us some of the steps he picked up from the different traditions of his native America, as well as Canada, Ireland and now Scotland. WATCH a flavour of Nic’s masterclass here!
Hugely inspired by Nic, Eleanor and the pupils started stepdancing their way to the 14th Colony of Artists festival in August 2019. Their first warm-up sessions even included the ‘birthday dance’ – a child-led choreography of shuffles, heels and clicks. Each of the constituent steps (e.g. toe steps or their favourite ‘itchy leg’ moves) were assigned one of the ten digits and then practised as a set of dance patterns invariably ending on 2009 – their shared year of birth!
Watch this space for updates about this exciting new percussive dance piece being devised by Eleanor and Primary 6 to be featured at the free open doors festival finale of the 14th Colony of Artists on Sunday, 22 September 2019 at 4pm at the Abbeyhill Primary School Assembly Hall!
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Eleanor Robertson’s artist’s residency at Abbeyhill Primary School in 2019 was curated by Iliyana Nedkova as part of the ongoing artists-in-residence programme at the school In partnership with Moray House School of Education and Sport, University of Edinburgh and Traditional Dance Forum Scotland Facilitated by Wendy Timmons, Eirini Stamati, Sam Chetwynd, Sally Ketchin and Michelle Brady Supported by North East Edinburgh Community Fund | Abbeyhill Primary School and Abbeyhill Primary School Parent Council