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Published 30/03/23

Choreography and Communication

This project was a collaborative research project with the Speech and Language team at The Wyvern School, looking at concrete ways of integrating communication tools into dance practice, to support students' creative development and share best practice across the sector. 


To learn more about the project, watch this short film or read on below to download our new dance actions poster:

Over a 6 month research period, we learnt about the use of symbols for communication, developed new resources and tested them out with our students in partner schools. 

​As well as supporting the development of resources for Confidance’s dance education programme, this project focused on building relationships between our partner schools, and separate departments within them (such as Speech and Language).

“If we can adapt our resources to the language of dance, we can adapt them to anything, they can be used anywhere in any subject.”

Speech and Language Team, The Wyvern School

Where did we start?

The project began by sharing practice with the Speech and Language Team (SALT) to share how we were already communicating with our students, and identify opportunities to better align ourselves with the communication tools and methods used in SEND education.  We learnt about PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) symbols used as a mode of communication across the school. 

We realised there were clear parallels around developing words into sentences using PECS, and how we build dance vocabulary  and sequencing in dance. By using the same model of visual communication that existed in the school, and layering in our dance language, we could develop some simple and powerful tools for choreography and dance education. 

“This choreography resource is a starting point for developing a dance curriculum in SEN education.  This can empower the next generation of dancers and choreographers with learning disabilities by giving access to dance education in school.”

Jo Frater, Confidance Artistic Director

A choreography choosing board was created

We were already implementing visual aids through images of key themes, but we were keen to refine the visuals we used for dance actions that are fundamental to contemporary training. 

The project began using large A4 images of symbols linked to our Confidance dance actions, which have been developed and refined over the years to ensure they are accessible to all our participants. These large symbols were used to teach the action to the students.


After trialling different symbols and gaining various forms of feedback from students, we scaled the symbols down and created a choosing board, developed with SALT.  


The choosing boards were layered with Velcro, so that dance actions could be chosen, removed and placed on a separate velcro strip. This allowed students to physically choose their choreography, and see it visually which helped with recall and movement memory.  We found these to be immediately and profoundly impactful for showing clear choreographic choice and understanding of the task.


It demonstrated how, with the right communication from us, our students could flourish. 

“This project perfectly sums up that wonderful things can be achieved with commited, enthusiastic, knowledgeable professionals all bringing something different to the table, keeping students at the centre.”

Penny Bullen, Acting Head Teacher, The Wyvern School

We created our 'Dive Into Dance' poster

We developed a poster to share across schools that is designed to introduce students to our key dance actions and inspire them to try them out. We drew on our learning about symbols and clear communication to explore how we could support learning with simple visual prompts. 

We carried out several photoshoots with dancers from our youth company and professional programme, ConfiCo. These photos were edited in-house with a focus on clear modelling of the action and accessibility guidelines around colours, fonts and supporting symbols. By using our artists and young dancers as the face of our practice, we can further our agenda of ensuring representation and aspiration raising for our younger students in SEND education. 

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