Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer schools make a carnival in a day with Kinetika

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STUDENTS and staff from Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer schools gathered together at the High House Production Park in Purfleet on Thursday 24 January to plan a carnival.

Five students and two teachers from six schools took part in workshops to learn carnival skills led by outdoor arts organization Kinetika and carnival arts group Kinetika Bloco.

Carnivals will take place in the schools, who are also invited to join the Tilbury Carnival procession on Saturday 20 July. The different themes chosen by each school celebrate the diversity of Thurrock. During the day of carnival preparation, three workshops were run in carnival drumming, dance and design. Artists from the internationally renowned and Purfleet-based outdoor arts organization Kinetika led the design workshop, and carnival performance group Kinetika Bloco led the drumming and dance workshops.

The students learnt samba reggae rhythms and created their own individual compositions using a range of carnival drums. They learnt some mass-movement, repeated dances and had the opportunity to choreograph their own adaptation, creating shapes based on these movement patterns. They learned to think about travelling choreography, which is necessary for a carnival procession.

Kinetika’s Artistic Director Ali Pretty and artist Ray Mahabir helped the students decide on the story and characters for the carnival. Building upon initial ideas on the theme of carnival and using recycling as the main source of inspiration, the workshops explored ways to use recyclable products and items that would otherwise be thrown away to create costumes.

Ali Pretty commented:

‘It was hugely inspiring to see how well these Thurrock students took to the idea of carnival; it will be great if we can regenerate what used to be a Thurrock tradition with a new wave of contemporary carnivals in years to come. Carnivals are a brilliant way to bring diverse communities together into one celebration.’

The Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer schools involved were Chadwell St Mary, Deneholm, Stifford Clays and Holy Cross Primary Schools, and Aveley Academy and William Edwards Academy.

Neil Moore, English teacher and Trailblazer Cultural Champion at William Edwards Academy, commented:

‘It was really special to work with the students at the carnival day. Opportunities like this are so rare and the day was packed with so much active learning for all of us. The SWECET (South West Essex Community Education Trust) cultural champions have never been so fired up about a project and we are excited about how the music, dance and art sessions will drive our plans forward. This is the first time we have involved students from the outset in a Trailblazer project, so I get the feeling it will be the most creative experience yet.’

Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer provides pupils with access to high-quality arts and cultural activities provided by the Royal Opera House and other cultural organizations. Working with the Royal Opera House Learning and Participation team, each school creates a year-long calendar of cross-curricular creative activities tailored to their school’s needs. The programme can include any art form: creative writing, visual arts and design, drama, dance, music, singing, film and photography.

To find out more about Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer, please email or go to

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