29 Dec 2016

We spoke to Katie Green, one of the curators of our Giraffe Dance Workshops (Sat 14 & Sun 15 April) as she tells us more about the animal story that inspired her to create these interactive workshops especially for our visitors. Even those who’ve never danced before!

The popular children’s story, Giraffe’s Can’t Dance is the inspiration behind our Giraffe Dance Workshops.  Planning the activities is Katie Green, a multi award-winning choreographer.  Here, she and the dancers who will lead the sessions, Tim Casson and Lucy Starkey, provide us with an insight into how the book inspired the workshop, how they have captured the spirit of Giraffe’s Can’t Dance and how they aim to bring it to life at the zoo:

Made By Katie Green is a company specialising in bringing dance to unusual spaces, and creating dance experiences that audiences don’t expect, meaning we have the honour of introducing people who may not have engaged with dance before to something new and different. In the past we’ve worked in museums, art galleries, shopping centres, in gardens, on beaches and in caves for example, so when we were approached to create a dance workshop for Chester Zoo we were really excited by the opportunity to work in a totally new environment!

Made by Katie Green performing in a cave!

We really love the way in which Chester Zoo has been reinventing its spaces to make visitors’ experience of the Zoo more playful and creative and it’s a privilege to be part of this year’s work using story-telling as an inspiration for a range of activities that will make a wonderful day out just that little bit more exciting!

Leading the Giraffe Dance Workshops will be fantastic professional dancers Tim Casson and Lucy Starkey, and we’ve put our heads together to give a bit of an insight into what you can expect.

Lucy Starkey

Why is Giraffes Can’t Dance such a great story to bring to life through dance?

For a dancer, the book Giraffes Can’t Dance is a gift! We have been captivated by its rich imagery, diverse characters and jubilant energy – it feels like it has just been waiting to be turned into a workshop or performance, and to have the chance to do so at a Zoo where you can see so many of the animals from the book at first hand makes it even better.

We have put together workshops inspired by the energetic illustrations, the quality of movement of the many animals featured in the book, the dance styles of the ‘waltzing warthogs’, ‘rock and rolling rhinos’, ‘tangoing lions’, chimps doing a cha-cha and baboons dancing a Scottish reel for example. The personalities and postures of the different animals in the book unlock a rich mix of movement, feels and dynamics.

Tim Casson

What can Chester Zoo visitors expect?

The workshops will start with a lively warm up introducing you to the different qualities of movement of all the animals depicted in the book. Lucy, Tim and the Zoo Rangers will be there to support you every step of the way.

We will then use the different dance styles from the book – waltzing, rock and roll, cha cha for example – to learn some dance sequences that we can perform with our brothers, sisters, friends, mums, dads, uncles, aunts, nannies and grandads. Gradually we can develop these sequences using our own ideas and inspired by the really important message of the book Giraffes Can’t Dance – that we can all be dancers if we can find music and movements that we love, and dance for ourselves and no-one else!

At the end of the workshop we hope we’ll be able to have our own Jungle Dance, inspired by the Jungle Dance from the book, where there are so many things happening on just one page. There will literally be something for everyone.  From the mellow lion to the extrovert hyena, we think everyone will be able to connect with at least one of the many characters from the book.

So join us and be inspired by some different kinds of music and just enjoy a bit of a boogie. The workshops will be about 30 minutes long and completely free. There’s no need for you to have any previous experience or to wear something special – just bring along yourselves and prepare to have some fun dancing your way around Chester Zoo!