The Mayakaras ( Makers of Magic ) was initially established in response to a need for challenge and stretch for our most able dancers from all ages.
It was also set up as Artistic Director Jackie Mortimer had an idea about working in a mixed age setting and the value that this might bring to all those concerned .The idea sprang from my involvement in vertical tutoring at Brockhill
The company works on a cyclical structure where the youngest dancers of today became the mentors of tomorrow.
Jackie says 'What I did not envisage was the effect the Company would have on raising standards within Instep and Brockhill Performing Arts College ( see Alumni ) The idea was to treat the company as young professionals, to ignore obstacles to learning by not giving them space or thought , and just to have the very highest expectations, irrespective of age. We also planned for intensive work periods to make the most of the time with our professional mentors. That was nine years ago. The MayaKaras has now become an annual project. It has moved from being funded by the school as part of their commitment to research into creativity ( National School of Creativity) to becoming a be – spoke project funded by Instep through external fundraising.We have developed a relationship over this time with our professional mentors Lila Dance , who consider The MayaKaras to be their core Youth Dance Company'
Together we have undertaken formal and informal research into what happens when you work in this way
Specifically The MayaKaras has been part of two research projects here in the UK:
- Collaborative Creative Processes and Creative Engagement undertaken by the DPC research team from Exeter University
- Signature Pedagogies: commissioned by Creativity Culture and Education to explore the pedagogy at the heart of the Creative Partnerships programme and to characterise the distinct ways of working that artists and other creative practitioners bring with them to their work in education.
We have also formed a central theme in research further afield at Stanford University ( USA) where the Mayakara rehearsals were observed and analysed , specifically for understanding the language of creativity and also for unpacking the gender differences in approaches to learning . At the core of all the research was to understand what kind of teaching led so clearly to the empowerment of these learners , and to outcomes which had excellence at their heart.
This research led the teachers at Brockhill, Instep and LIla Dance to a better understanding of how to help learners succeed. We have embraced that understanding and continued to use The MayaKaras as a project in which we attempt to break new ground .
Jackie Mortimer Artistic Director . Instep Dance Company