Dubai exchange and ‘Play in a Day’


Six Bedales students travelled to Dubai College on Tuesday 6 December to start their six-day long adventure writes Liz Richards, Teacher of Dance…

Little did they know how busy they would be throughout the whole week. Performance, choreography, devising, rehearsal, creation… the list was endless, by the end of their busy week, they were certainly ready for the Christmas break. The students took with them a 35 minute piece that they performed a total of six times, and they lead a series of rich creative workshops and brought together their Bedalian experiences to share with the Dubai College students.

On reflection, the students have come back with a greater understanding of performing to different types of audiences, understanding the different needs of the various performance spaces and the importance of time-management and planning when leading workshops, all of which are important skills to help support their current studies. However, most of all, the students commented that experiencing the different culture was the biggest learning curve, they explained that no matter how much you read in preparation, you need to experience it to be able to understand it fully.

View the ‘Play in a Day’ below and scroll down to view the slideshow


Staying with our hosts
By Imi Gibbon

img_7290While we were in Dubai, we all stayed with students from Dubai College. We stayed in pairs with host families who took us to the college each day for around 7:15am. The host students Josh, Kim and Ariyike (6.1 students) and their families were all very welcoming and we all became very good friends. One morning we were even taken for a traditional Emirati breakfast in a restaurant at the beach nearby, we ate Zalabia (dough balls), Shak shouka (eggs and veg) and Karak tea, all of which were delicious. Staying with families in Dubai meant we were able to experience Dubai and its culture from their point of view, rather than from a tourist perspective. It was also a really fun part of the whole Dubai trip because they organised trips that as a tourist we may not have experienced.

The Dubai workshops
By Orlando Goffin

dubai-dance-13Taking part in workshops with students from Dubai Collage was rewarding yet challenging. Having never held a workshop with more than five or six people it was a step out of our comfort zones. We worked with students of different ages, ranging from primary school to upper sixth. Each workshop we did differed from the last because of the level of attention or help required. We each took turns to lead workshops based on the piece we took out to Dubai to perform; we explained our inspiration for the piece and the process we went through to get the finished product. Within each workshop, we would look at specific sections from the piece, for example an extract that specifically looked at characterisation. We each developed a character and dialogue for someone who was traveling abroad; including their name, age, where they were travelling to and five items they took with them. Using this section in one workshop we asked the students to pair up and develop their own characters, with the same requirements. We would spend the workshop aiding them, watching what they developed and then further developing their work. At first these workshops were scary as we were used to an environment where we would host workshops with our peers. Though at first we struggled to keep ideas flowing and to hold a workshop, this skill soon became second nature to us thanks to the advice and support that our teachers provided.

Play in a Day
By Anastasia Sheldon

dubai-dance-17After working with the Dubai College students for four days we collaborated together to create a performance based on our piece about travel. We split into two groups to create and develop movement and scenes individually. We worked and explored each of our strengths, using our physicality and dance skills to develop the movement side of ideas, and the Dubai students’ theatrical skills to deepen our characters and narrative storyline. Focusing on scenes from our piece, we developed and changed the dialogue and structure a little to suit twenty people rather than six. This meant spending lots of time on entrances and exits and finer details to make sure it still made sense. We then blended these scenes with the new material we had created to tell one story. After working together for about six hours, we had finally finished and it was ready to be presented to parents and their Head Teacher, Mike Lambert. He was very impressed with what we had created in such a short length of time. We received lots of praise from parents and our own teachers, also getting a chance to talk about the process and stimulus and what really inspired us to create the scenes we had just performed. All of us had really bonded during this experience and it was so much fun with the Dubai students, who we all became very close with. It allowed us to really combine our skills to create something exciting. (view the film at the top of the page. or by clicking here).

Dubai as tourists
By Daisy Hannam

img_5108We had one day off from performing and leading workshops where we could be a tourist for the day in Dubai. We walked around the gold, fabric and spice souks where some of us bought small traditional presents for family back home. To get across the canal we travelled in a water taxi that cost all eight of us just £1.50 in total. Then we had lunch in the old town, a very quaint little coffee shop that was hidden from the beaten track. That evening we went into the desert for some dune-bashing in 4x4s, we went high and low over the sand dunes which was very fun. Then we had a traditional dinner full of meat, rice and salad and watched performances like belly dancing and fire eating. One afternoon we went up the Burj Khalifa (the tallest in building in the world) which was incredible and spent some time in the Dubai Mall, where there was a huge aquarium wall with lots of fishes and sharks. It was really good to be able to see Dubai as the culture is so different to ours.

By Fergus Steele

dubai-dance-18The six of us performed our dance and drama piece to audiences of a variety of ages, the first of which being our own age group. As it was the first performance we were all pretty nervous as not only did we need to impress our hosts, but we all knew deep down that there was one specific section of the dance that was very complicated. After we got through our first performance we did not have time to be nervous for the others as in one day we had two performances sandwiched between workshops to keep us busy. We were really happy with how the performances went and we were all pleased that there were moments of laughter from the audience when we needed it. The contrast between this audience’s reaction and the audience of ages 13-14 was weirdly large. It seemed as though they found the whole piece quite serious, so we started to understand we needed to tailor the performance to our audience age each time we performed it. Having to perform in different spaces without a lot of time to rehearse was very challenging however, towards the end we were able to really work on this as a strength. Our final performance was actually our best as every single part went to plan, allowing us to leave Dubai on an extremely good note.

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Choreography, collaboration and Bedales School

By Tzeitel Degiovanni, 6.2 Drama and Theatre Studies student, Dubai College


DC group shotAfter an amazing and hugely successful Drama exchange last year, whereby we hosted Bella, Foxey, Roly, James, Callum, Ruan, Mim and Hebe in Dubai, the seven of us drama students couldn’t wait to see Bedales in the flesh when we joined them on their ‘home turf’ in freezing cold Hampshire. Being part of the 25th year of this  exchange, the A2 Drama class were already feeling part of something memorable – and thanks to our amazingly hospitable hosts – our incredible week was just that!

Performing our exam piece, See A Girl Dance Again, in The Quad during Monday’s assembly was no doubt a scary learning curve for all of us, but one that we will certainly learn a lot from. The reception (applause, stomping and all) was very much appreciated after 14 hours on our feet, and it was wonderful to see OB’s, Bella and James, in the front row supporting us!

Immersing ourselves in Bedales life, joining in lessons, assemblies, boarding house life and the infamous “hand shaking” – whereby every student shakes hands with every member of staff and says goodnight – was a fantastic experience, and not one we’ll forget soon. Thanks to the Theatre Studies teacher, Jenny, we were able to collaborate with the Year 12 theatre students for an hour, where we created a ‘Brecht on Brecht’ piece about the life of the man (and notorious philanderer) himself. Then, in the ever-patient hands of Liz, we joined an A Level Dance class and worked with the current AS students on their exam duets. This was especially exciting for us Dubai College students, as Dance isn’t available to us as an A-Level. Some of us were perhaps more successful than others but everyone certainly tried their best! Sharing our ideas and learning from the creativity of the students at Bedales has definitely helped shape our piece, and our team, into an even stronger collective than when we arrived.

Leading workshops with the Block 3s and 4s, as well as at Dunhurst, based on the physicality and musicality of our piece, was inspiring to say the least. We were flattered at how enthusiastically everyone took to our piece and at how they made it their own – with many dark horses emerging from the shadows!

DC pigs

On our fourth day, Andrew took us on a tour of Outdoor Work at Bedales; growing up in a place where the landscape consists of desert and skyscrapers – we loved it! We enjoyed trekking through the mud, seeing the pigs (especially Angelica!) and learning about sheep reproduction on a working farm that makes and sells its own produce. The Bedales motto became extremely apt when we were on our tour – ‘work of each for the weal of all’ – and is a sentiment we all agreed to take back with us.

Bedales were then generous enough to let us join students in a workshop with The Hiccup project – a Brighton based comedy dance/theatre duo. We used physicality to the extreme and became surreal monsters, breaking down barriers that undoubtedly brought our class from DC and the Bedales dancers closer than we ever though we could get, in the span of just 4 hours. We then unreservedly made a Backstreeet Boys music video, ‘danced’ to a collection of 90s pop, and became dictators, heart-breakers, rappers, drunkards and consequently first-class dance/theatre extraordinaires. Needless to say, this was the highlight of our time at Bedales, as despite waking up with sore… everythings… we definitely formed bonds for life.

Overall getting back to Dubai has been bittersweet, as despite the cold and the travelling, our experience of life as boarders and students at Bedales School has been an amazing one. Thanks to everyone who smiled at us in the corridors, helped direct us around the maze that is the 6.2 flat, shared their tea, asked us to ‘brekkie’ and just generally made us feel more than welcome and consequently reluctant to leave! I know the 6.1 Drama students at Dubai College are very much looking forward to the tables turning next year and having the Bedallians perform here in the desert! Literally… 🙂

Read Bedales student Hebe Bartlett’s report here and view a gallery of pictures here.