IRIS Teacher Training


Christian talks us through his experience of Stopgap’s IRIS summer school.

An insightful training week with IRIS! Initially, I was excited to learn more about the syllabus that I would eventually be leading from September but as the week went on, I realised that IRIS is so much more than a training program. I believe that it is an expression of creative exploration, an opportunity for dancers of all ages and abilities to come together, to dance together and to find great reward in their successes.

From the perspective of learning all of the exercises, (although a lot of information!) the principles behind each one were so clear, that they all made sense in my mind. Having them written down in as much detail as possible was a big help too! Throughout learning them, I found myself thinking of how I would deliver them myself, what images I would use and the explorations we could undertake. I love the fact that although the exercises are set within the syllabus, the possibilities are endless when it comes to how you deliver them. It will take time for me to discover the best ways for my group to learn and develop but the most exciting part is to be going on this journey with them. In my head, I quite frequently have the ‘I need to be spot on first time’ train of thought but actually, the gift of time will allow me to really invest in my group and watch them grow along with my own teaching practice and ideas.

Learning about the support role was of great interest to me, as I know that this will be very relevant to my teaching from September. Having the opportunity to speak to Lily about her role with members of Guildford Youth Company was incredibly valuable and it is very encouraging that it is all about trial and error; being creative and finding the best ways for your dancers to access the material and the explorations. Again, this is something I look forward to experimenting with very soon!

During the week, I particularly enjoyed the chance to deliver one of the IRIS exercises along with an exploration. Although slightly daunting to begin with, as I had only just learnt the exercises, I always feel that the best way to learn is to get stuck in and rise to the challenge. I believe that my strong suit is enthusiasm and building the excitement towards the task so this was my starting point; how do I make quite a simple task seem like the most exhilarating game they have ever played. Following on from the exploration, delivering the articulation exercise was where the real test came. As I tried to mirror the exercise, I most certainly felt the challenge of teaching the correct leg within the lunging sequence. Note to self! It’s okay to say hang on, I’m going to turn around and do it with you! I enjoyed using imagery to assist in the teaching of the moves but after feedback and reflection, not every move needs an image. Sometimes it may be better to let the movement speak for itself…and to not give away all my ideas in one go!

I really appreciated getting such valuable feedback straight after teaching. I felt that as the experience was still very fresh this was perfect for me to instantly reflect. As well as this, being surrounded by such a talented, supportive group made me feel at ease and unafraid to ask for help and advice.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the week was having the opportunity to experience everyone’s individual teaching style within the IRIS exercises, it was very inspiring to see so many different ideas working brilliantly.

Overall, It was invaluable to have had the opportunity to learn the IRIS syllabus. I feel very equipped to begin leading Guildford Youth Company in September and I can’t wait to start working with them!

Read more about IRIS and more blogs from Christian