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  • A Warm Welcome

    Situated in the heart of a thriving expat community, our school is home to families from all over the world


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Salla Saarikangas: Dance Specialist and Juilliard Alumni

Performing Arts is hugely important at The British International School Shanghai and a key pillar in our ‘Be Ambitious’ philosophy. Our unique Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme allows us to enrich our students’ learning experiences in Music, Drama and Dance. We receive regular visits from Juilliard alumni from each of these disciplines who lead students and parents in practical workshops; these artists also support professional development to nurture the Juilliard philosophy in our pedagogy. Salla visited BISS this week to assess our progress in Dance and to support its future development at the school.

For our students in Year 2 and Year 10, this provided the fantastic experience of being taught and inspired by a world-class leading dance specialist. Salla used the piece ‘The Green Table - Dancing the Symbols’ and explored the Bharatanatyam dance style as foci for the lessons. Feedback from the children and staff was very positive – the lessons were fun, engaging and had a great level of technical challenge – which they enjoyed meeting. They also contained opportunities for learners to be reflective on their performances, this is a key element of the Juilliard-Nord Anglia Performing Arts Programme.

Salla was impressed with the growth of the Dance programme at BISS, through both its development within our PE lessons, as well as the opportunities for students to join BISS Lions School of Dance (BLSD), which offers pupils Dance tuition in Musical Theatre, contemporary, tap, hip-hop, Irish and Modern Dance. In May 2019, the school became an official BBO exam centre with 100 per cent pass rate for our first ever dance exams. BLSD can be seen on the BBO (British Ballet Organisation) website. It is one of a kind as the closest BBO school to BISS is either in Australia or Jordan. The school hosts one set of exams per year (May 2020) and one formal show (March 2020).

Our programme at BISS is unique. The dance teachers are active choreographers of school musicals, assemblies and form the judging panels at school talent shows. The students see the dance teachers as their PE teachers, form teachers, heads of year and sporting coaches. We feel that this demonstrates to students that people from all walks of life can have the confidence to express themselves through the medium of performance - not just those who wear tights and tutus!

Thank you to Salla for her insights and advice, her expertise is invaluable as we grow and refine the Dance programme at the school. We will continue to encourage all of our students to take opportunities to perform and our wide variety of Dance activities provide the opportunity for personal growth in these areas.