Out There, The Australian Ballet in schools, brought to you by Samsung

Out There was developed by one of Australia’s leading dance educators, Helen Cameron and is based on in-depth research and solid program design.

Samsung revealed earlier this year it is the new presenting partner of The Australian Ballet’s education program: Out There. Out There was developed by one of Australia’s leading dance educators, Helen Cameron and is based on in-depth research and solid program design.

We were lucky enough to sit down with Helen to hear more about the program, how Samsung’s partnership will affect students and her biggest inspirations.

Q. How does the Out There program benefit young Australians?

Student learning and enjoyment is at the centre of what Out There is all about. We developed the program to provide a unique and first-hand dance education experience for primary-aged students, which we know from education research will contribute to better education outcomes for participants. The program is delivered to thousands of students around the country, and is accessible for those who have had little or no dance learning experience.

The workshop begins with students in a circle ready to warm-up their brains and bodies. Throughout the session students engage in exercises that require fitness, concentration, inventiveness and memory recall. These are key requirements for all learning in the primary school curriculum. Reluctant students are converts within minutes.

Post workshop the students gather to watch the dancers discuss and demonstrate a range of dance techniques and styles. All students get to meet the dancers up-close, do a dance-workshop and see a dance performance. And it all happens in their school!

Q. How does the Samsung partnership contribute to the program?

The positive impact of Samsung’s partnership has been immediate. The partnership objective reinforces equality and opportunity, ensuring access for young people that, due to a variety of circumstances, would not otherwise engage in arts learning opportunities.

Thanks to Samsung, touring distances have increased considerably. From 2014 to 2016, Out There will be able to reach communities we’ve not previously visited in the Northern Territory, Western Australian and Queensland, which is a priority for the program.

The potential for digital, active dance learning is also on the agenda. Samsung is a perfect partner to explore scope for a range of interactive, digital programs that would be apt for young people to continue learning about dance and broader topics of interest about the dance profession.

Q. Where do you see the program in 5 years’ time?

The dream answer is “everywhere”! The ambitious and realistic answer is that in the next five years Out There will be delivering the program to primary schools in two ways; a school-based visit and digital visits. Our Dance Education Ensemble of four dancers will continue to directly reach about 13,000 students per year, especially in regional and remote areas, with participation increasing considerably through digital experiences and learning tools. The challenge for effective program development will be to identify digital teaching tools that translate to practical participation in a dance learning experience.

Q. Who is your biggest inspiration in the education and arts space?

  Children and professional dancers! Children represent developing inquisitiveness, energy and inventiveness. Professional dancers demonstrate dedication, talent and performance ability that keeps the art of dance alive through historical and contemporary repertoire. The Dance Education Ensemble provides adult role models that are articulate, fit, motivated and artistically versatile. The face-to-face contact the dancers have with the students inevitably results in the establishment of a memory bank item which in-turn has the scope to prompt young people to do and see dance!