Scottish Ballet has announced an innovative new programme called Safe to be Me, that is using dance to tackle challenging subjects such as racism, homophobia, bigotry, ableism and transphobia.
The programme will be rolled out to primary schools across Scotland this year. Delivered in line with key Scottish Government targets to address bullying in these areas, the Safe to be Me initiative is made possible with the support of Aberdeen Standard Investments.
This pioneering project engages with Primary 6 pupils, aged 9-11, to explore themes that include identity, tolerance, acceptance, respect, ethnic and family diversity and LGBTQ+ communities. After a successful pilot in February-March 2019, Scottish Ballet plans to roll out the programme to primary schools across Scotland from August 2019. Feedback from pupils, teachers and parents has been extremely positive, demonstrating the value of a creative approach to help schools introduce and discuss these important topics.
Pupils are initially introduced to the themes by a team of experienced dance practitioners in the weeks leading up to watching a performance, which is choreographed by Scottish Ballet’s Engagement Creative Director, Lorraine Jamieson. The pupils then take part in a full-day workshop where they have the opportunity to create their own Safe to be Me performance; encouraging each of them to be comfortable with who they are.
Scottish Ballet has extensive experience delivering workshops in schools, having engaged with over 3,000 pupils to explore the themes of ballet productions in sessions tailored to support the curriculum at various levels. In its 50th anniversary year, Scotland’s national dance company is delighted that, with the support of Aberdeen Standard Investments, this expertise will be used to help Scottish children explore and express their identities in a supportive and creative environment.
The Safe to be Me programme aligns closely with Aberdeen Standard Investments’ core value of encouraging diversity in the workplace and is in line with their corporate vision to work towards a culture of inclusion where everyone is able to be fully themselves at work.
Catherine Cassidy, Director of Engagement at Scottish Ballet, said:
‘As one of Scotland’s national performing companies, we are proud to present this programme that celebrates diversity and inclusion. ‘Safe to be Me’ is a creative performance project that reflects our communities’ values, encouraging 10-year-old pupils to celebrate difference and gain respect for themselves and one another.’
Lynne Connolly, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Aberdeen Standard Investments added:
‘The ‘Safe to be Me’ initiative is a powerful tool to help Scotland’s children develop compassion for others and confidence in themselves. Inclusive workplaces are better for people and better for business – but to fully succeed we need to evoke change across society. That includes helping our young people on the right path and I can’t think of a more compelling way to engage children than dance and performance in a supportive environment.’
A teacher from a school that was involved with the pilot workshops said:
‘The whole experience has been absolutely amazing, and I think it will have a massive lasting impact on the class. The results were beautiful and effective.’
A P6 pupil commented on one of the pilot workshops, and said:
‘We learned about how people can be different and nobody is the same, and it’s okay to be different.’
For further information on Scottish Ballet and the Safe to be Me initiative, and the company’s full engagement programme, visit www.scottishballet.co.uk.