25 October 2019

Over the past two years, Abingdon Science Partnership has been an official supporter and science education partner during the development of Impelo Cymru’s latest educational dance production, CELL.

First conceived as a result of a conversation between Impelo producer, Lauren Hussein and ASP Co-ordinator Jeremy Thomas, the idea was taken further following a visit by Lauren and Impelo Director Amanda Griffkin, to one of Dr Robert Jeffreys’s primary science workshops on Evolution and Inheritance. Although the workshop activities are exciting and scientifically interesting, it becomes increasingly more difficult for children to visualise the structures and mechanisms inside cells and at the scale of the DNA strands inside the cell nucleus.

After further consultation with immunologist Professor Masahiro Ono at Imperial College and chromosome biologist Professor Veronica Buckle at the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine in Oxford, the Impelo team devised and created an inspiring and visually engaging production for primary age children. Using inflatable structures and dancers’ movements they set out to illustrate the amazing activity that goes on at the cellular level in every one of us all the time.

Jeremy Thomas and Rob Jeffreys were privileged to be invited to work with the entire team of artists, performers and scientists during a development workshop in Wales last year and have been waiting eagerly to see the production performed. This was finally made possible by a collaboration between ASP, the Weatherall Institute, Larkmead School and the Oxford_IF Festival, with CELL being performed five times in Larkmead’s dance studio and four times at the IF Festival over a period of three days.

As well as Larkmead School’s Y9 and A-level Dance classes, classes from three local primary schools, St Edmund’s, Thameside and Sunningwell were able to see the performance and talk to the dancers about the ideas and the ways they had conveyed them.

There was also an evening performance for adult guests, many of whom had professional knowledge in the field of cell biology and who were equally impressed and engaged by the immersive set, the dancers’ representation of cells and DNA and the specially composed music, making for a memorable, as well as educational, experience.

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