Traditional Chinese dancing: Alison Chapman’s Story

Author: Alison Chapman
Traditional Chinese dancing: Alison Chapman’s Story

Alison Chapman travelled to China in 2009 to learn about traditional Chinese dancing so she could develop teaching resources and training for teachers aimed at helping children to develop a cultural understanding of China.

The Fellowship

Alison’s background is in teaching physical education and dance, as well as training primary and secondary teachers. At the time of her Fellowship she was working as a teacher educator, with a passion for all forms of dance and a belief that we can develop the whole child by learning about physical, aesthetic, creative and cultural education through dance.

Alison spent seven weeks in China, travelling to Beijing, Xi’an, Guilin and Yangshuo. She learnt three different styles of traditional Chinese dancing: Menguu, Dai Zu and Long Sleeve Dancing (as performed in the Tang Dynasty). She also spent time learning Tai Chi and visiting cultural sites such as the Forbidden City, Terracotta Warriors, Temple of Heaven and The Great Wall.

The Results

Since returning to the UK, Alison has drawn on the experience of her Fellowship in training primary and secondary trainee teachers. In 2010 she was awarded an MA in Education and wrote her dissertation on training physical education teachers to teach dance as non-specialists.

After returning from China Alison wrote a piece about her experience for the Association for Physical Education. This gave her the confidence to go on to present at conferences, as well as to write for publication, in which she was successful in 2014, having a chapter included in ‘Initial Teacher Education in Schools’, a guide published by Sage.

Alison volunteered at the Lancaster and Morecambe Chinese Community Association where she choreographed and taught children a dance based on the warrior dance. She also created a piece for the Chinese women which was a celebration of the Dai Zu and Long Sleeve dance styles. Both dances were performed at a concert at Lancaster Ashton Hall.

In 2013 Alison returned to teaching in school as a Deputy Head teacher and continued to teach Chinese dancing to her classes, with students enjoying the Long Sleeve dancing in particular. Since her Fellowship Alison estimates she has taught Chinese dance pieces to over 1,500 people. With 200 trainee teachers having been trained to deliver a Chinese dance scheme of work, the impact of her Fellowship has gone far beyond the training she herself has delivered.

For September 2017, Alison is embarking on a new chapter in her professional life as the Head teacher of Baines School in Lancashire. She hopes to inspire the students, staff and wider school community to strive to achieve their dreams. She has already planned an assembly to share the experiences of her Fellowship and hopes that at least one of her students will go on to be a Churchill Fellow in the future.

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