Orpheus tutor, Jason Tucker, speaks out on the power of dance!

Professional and former west-end dancer, Jason Tucker, now teaches dance to students at the Orpheus Centre, helping them to find independence and unleash their creativity through the power of dance.

Through the use of movement, Orpheus students have been given a great opportunity to discuss issues and feelings through a whole other language.

During an interview available on the Orpheus YouTube channel, Jason speaks of dance’s ability to say things that cannot always be verbalised: “Dance is an incredible medium that encourages a great physicality and expression that often can’t be found with words”.

They go on to say: “for the students here at Orpheus, that is a real key to unlocking some of those important skills that they’re going to use for their independence as they grow up.”

One such skill gained through dance is the confidence that it can evoke in a person, and through solos and group dances, Jason has seen the students really flourish: “constantly sharing ideas, and constantly giving feedback, and constantly doing performances”.

During black history month for example, they looked at some work choreographed by Sharon Watson, called Windrush: Movement of the People, which engaged the students with social issues, as well as providing inspiration for them to make up “all of their own steps”.

The aesthetic of dance is an incredibly central element of this form of expression, seeing as it is a visual medium: “One of the most important things to think about when taking on a career in dance is presentation.”

This not only entails choreography and how it is translated, but the costumes worn, just like with any uniform. Jason stresses how key appropriate clothing is for dance, and each specific style of dance: “it’s about knowing what is an appropriate situation and how to present yourself.”

Another key skill that Orpheus students have needed to learn is problem solving: “Problem solving is a really key skill in dance”, Jason says, and is “seeing them grow in it every single day”. They have seen such skills give students a real pride in their work, allowing them to “take autonomy over their learning”, and given a real sense of purpose.

No greater need for problem solving has there been than over the course of lockdown. Orpheus students have had to work around social distancing, and Jason had to think outside of the box when it came to ways of presenting the students’ work, asking: “How can I take what is such a social activity and something that really involves being a part of a team and working with other people and put it all online, and then try and bring it all together?”

But over many zoom calls – some students at home, some in the studio – success was found. Through a real sense of teamwork, the students worked hard to put on cohesive performances, taking the initiative with their work. Even over distance and the stresses of the pandemic, their work “really brought them together”.

Jason ends the video by saying that the social skills involved in dance “are invaluable to their lives in the future”. This really just goes to show the creative potency of dance, and the impact it can have upon a person’s sense of self. The self-expression that it allows for has quite evidently been well received by Orpheus students.