Claudia Boes – Occupational Therapist and Academic Co-Author
Claudia Boes is an independent academic researcher and consultant specialising in special educational needs, child development and education. Apart from her consultancy, she is a qualified Occupational Therapist, currently working with the National Autistic Society and also Montessori Education for Autism (MEfA) as an academic advisor.
'Evaluation of a Developmental Dance Movement Program as OT Intervention for Children with Autism' was presented by Ms Boes and Ms Golding at the College of Occupational Therapists Annual Conference 2015. The abstract can be accessed in the corresponding British Journal of Occupational Therapy supplement publication.
Ms Golding and Ms Boes have another peer reviewed paper in press.
Danielle Brook – Professional Associate/Autism Specialist
Danielle supports MovementWorks as a highly qualified professional, bringing her combined love of dance and her expert knowledge of intellectual, developmental, attachment and trauma disorders.
After a career as a theatre dancer, Danielle undertook 4 years of post-graduate training, specialising in autism spectrum conditions and sensory processing disorder.
She gained experience working in private healthcare as a diagnostics and treatment clinician in addition to being a Research Associate at Birmingham and Coventry Universities.
Danielle's work developing therapies and interventions won her the Laing and Buisson Independent Specialist Care Award for Services to Autism.
Elsie Burns - Research Consultant
Elsie is a research consultant, with over 20 years experience in quantitative and qualitative research in London. She has led and worked on studies for a range of government departments, businesses and educational charities. Clients include the National Audit Office, HMRC, the Carbon Trust, the Department of Transport, London Underground, the Book Trust, E.S.U., E.O.N., Royal Mail, Lloyds, Tesco, B.T. and the BBC.
She worked for the Ministry of Education in New Zealand for 4 years when first out of university, working in their Early Childhood and then Policy Development sections, and at one time was seconded to the Prime Minister’s Office to analyse submissions to the Select Committee Working Party report ‘Education to be More’. She worked in policy development across a wide range of issues from mainstreaming through to rural education, teacher training, and qualifications and assessment. She has a B.A. in History and was invited to take that further but has, so far, found it more interesting to learn different things and to keep moving in her exploration of the world and what she can contribute to it.
Elsie also has extensive arts experience holding a post-graduate Diploma in Drama, and having been very involved in theatre as a young person. She makes visual art and since 2007 has been using her historical and analytical skills to develop presentations and lectures for Tate Gallery together with her partner. A constant theme and motivation in her past choices is a passionate interest in cultural evolution.
She is currently assisting MovementWorks in developing their research and organisational systems. She may also train to be a practitioner when time allows. In future she would like to work more directly with children and adults as opposed to mainly than through focus groups, questionnaires and words on computer screens – although she does love these tools and forums as well. She considers the MovementWorks programme to have a tremendous amount to offer at this time when there is a growing awareness of the importance of movement: for healthy development and for a fulfilling and expressive life!
On a personal note, Elsie has lived with painful and occasionally debilitating physical conditions for several decades which she has finally - relatively swiftly - resolved in the last few years through movement and dietary interventions, partially inspired by meeting Ali. She therefore understands deeply what a life-changing difference can be made through evidence-based knowledge and effective, sustained and sustaining movement practice.
Read Elsie’s guest blog for Project Oracle.
Gini Brickell - Research Fellow and Assistant
I studied Psychology (BSc) at Sussex University where I found myself particularly interested in the neurobiological aspects of the course. I was also keen to explore my academic experiences in a more practical environment and worked in a residential care home providing support to adults with learning disabilities. I then pursued an MSc in Neuroscience at King’s College where I found an affinity with Developmental Neurobiology.
I completed my research thesis within the Comparative Biomedical Sciences laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College, where I conducted research into a rare neurodegenerative disorder known as Batten Disease. Batten Disease is a term used to describe a collection of inherited lysosomal storage disorders, the Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses. These disorders occur during childhood and symptoms include vision loss, seizures, movement loss and cognitive dysfunction. There is currently no cure for these fatal disorders. The research lead by Dr Claire Russell at the Royal Veterinary College aims to learn more about Batten Disease, specifically the disorders associated with the dysfunction of the CLN3 and CLN2 gene; the former is currently under investigation as part of ‘BATCure’, an EU funded multiple university collaboration.
Following my degree I worked as a Research Technician conducting a pre-clinical drug discovery experiment into CLN2 disease, funded by the Batten Disease Family Association (BDFA). Meeting the dedicated professionals, academics and families affected by Batten Disease involved with the BDFA gave me an insight into the hard work and devotion behind the scenes of a charitable organisation, as well as the effect research can have on family members and individuals affected by Batten Disease.
MovementWorks’ research into the benefits of Developmental Dance Movement for individuals with Special Educational Needs is vital in a relatively unexplored area of research and the preliminary results are inspiring. I am especially interested in the underlying neural networks linking movement and learning. I’m excited to be part of the team and looking forward to seeing the research progress.
Hilary Palmer – MovementWorks Practitioner
Hilary Palmer completed one year of MovementWorks training and is now teaching the DDM® programme in a number of schools and early years settings. As part of her professional development Hilary also completed her PG Cert in SEN.
I teach the MovementWorks programme in Schools and Early Years settings and I’m excited to be extending my practice delivering The MovementWorks Family Learning Programme - a series of workshops that enable parents and carers to be more aware of how vital movement is for their children.
For over a decade in my role as a Music Workshop Leader for Boogie Mites I have developed a thorough working knowledge of music-based activities for babies and children under 5. I have worked with babies 6 weeks to crawling together with their parents using musical activity as an inspirational tool for stimulating early communication skills and sensory awareness whilst encouraging parents to bond, engage and interact with their babies. Over this time I have enjoyed and appreciated how music and movement are not only fun activities to share with children, but how they play a key role in supporting development; in language, numeracy, physical and social skills and make a positive impact in all areas of EYFS.
My background is in theatre and I still perform seasonally. I am co-producer of a small-scale theatre company ‘The Uplifters’, which tours to fringe festivals and care homes for the elderly and less able, with the aim of uplifting their spirits.
Kathryn Spence – Dance Associate
Kathryn Spence is a choreographer, dancer and teacher, making works professionally and in the community. She believes in making all work inclusive and accessible and strives to make dance a part of everyone’s lives. Kathryn has a Postgraduate Diploma in Community Dance from Laban, Conservatoire of Dance, London.
She has choreographed for UNICEF, making a piece that educated about People with Disabilities’ Human Rights, using performance as an accessible educational tool in an area of low literacy levels. Her most recent work has toured Scotland, including Hidden Door Festival, where she now manages the newly formed Dance Programme.
She is Dance Development Officer for Citymoves Dance Agency, with a focus on developing dance in Education and Early Years in Aberdeenshire, with current projects outreaching dance to men out-with Education systems in deprived areas.
She has been associated with the Royal Academy of Dance, teaching in mainstream and Special Educational Needs settings across London and Essex, with her choreography being selected to perform on Sadlers Wells main stage.
Kathryn believes that dance can be utilised as a tool for learning and for connecting people, providing a social, physical and educational aspects to individuals.
Megan Scarff - MovementWorks Practitioner
As a Psychology graduate, I have a particular interest in child development and special educational needs. With my post graduate experience working with children with learning differences in a variety of different roles and my training with MovementWorks, I have become particularly passionate about inclusive education. I believe that MovementWorks has a lot to offer the quest for inclusivity in our education system and I’m deeply excited to play a part in what the programme can achieve in mainstream and special education settings. Dance was my first love. I was sent to ballet classes from a very young age and soon enough, I was hooked. Growing up I realised the impact that dance and other creative hobbies and activities had on who I was, from the way I would express myself to the way I would communicate with others. It was during a placement in Sri Lanka at the National Institute of Mental Health that I realised how powerful a tool dance can be. Dancing with patients and children in homes out there I realised that language is limited but creativity is a language that everyone can speak. Furthermore, during my three years at Exeter University I worked with a charity called Soundwaves: a group for people with learning difficulties to make and enjoy music together. The benefits of music and dance have become so obvious to me during the last few years. I feel I am in a privileged position whereby my academic grounding and my extracurricular activities have coincided. It is a real privilege to deliver a programme so in tune with my academic interests and my love of dance.
During her internship, Megan Scarff had the opportunity to support MovementWorks presentations at professional conference level. She successfully completed her training and with a project focused on the topic of Inclusivity supported the MovementWorks presentation at the TES SEN Show 2016. You can read her internship perspectives on the blog page
Megan’s internship was supported by The Royal Society of Arts.
MovementWorks offers fixed-term internships for a career change or continuing professional development (CPD). Please contact us in regard to Internships and Training Opportunities. Applications considered in the first instance via email with a covering letter expressing interest, background and relevant experience.
Thea Davis - Project Assistant
In the mid-nineties while travelling in Asia and Australia; moving around the world outside of my own, I began to notice how others moved in theirs. From women carrying pots on their heads in rural Indian villages, to areas of dense populations where individuals moved with containment and poise. Whilst trekking in the foothills of the Annapurna, I observed how the mountain villagers and Sherpa navigated themselves effectively and maintained their energy. My internal journey led me to yoga and meditation classes
On returning to the UK I completed an access course in mind and behaviour.
I saw Suraya Hilal dance at the Queen Elizabeth Halls, and was spell bound by her interpretation of classical Egyptian Music via a traditional yet contemporary art form. I began taking dance classes with one of her students.
After attaining a CELTA qualification to teach English as a foreign language, I worked for various schools and organisations teaching English to young people on short courses and hosted school programmes.
In London I worked on various courses in Community Education as an ESOL tutor. Discovering that I enjoyed working with pre-entry students, I began to focus on teaching at this level with an emphasis on improving literacy skills.
Taking regular dance classes with Suraya Hilal, I continued on a journey that helped me gain some focus beyond a feeling of foggy incoordination.
After studying anatomy and physiology, I received a distinction to practice Traditional Thai Yoga Massage, and took further training at this level in Thailand. As a practitioner I found that the flow of movements created in this ancient art form, often likened to a dance, helped me to gain balance and focus in other areas of my life. I felt a strong connection between giving and receiving and using movement and rhythm to gain balance and focus.
Becoming a mother in 2011 brought me new challenges and perspectives. Less time and space for myself, coincided with difficulty to become focused. I feel that in this age of over stimulation and distraction, focus and clarity will be even more challenging skills for our children to attain.
I am really inspired by the work Ali is doing with MovementWorks. Her Developmental Dance Movement programme gently encourages children to experience the skills that promote healthy physical, educational and emotional development.