Arts Gymnasium

Belgrade Arts Gymnasium Reflections

Sammy Wan

It has been a wonderful journey to be part of the Arts Gymnasium Shine On group and my placement has extended to a rich experience that has greatly influenced me as a musician and aspiring arts practitioner.

I was given the freedom to explore and bring my ideas into the sessions to see how music can be integrated with theatre practice. The beauty of community arts is that it is a two way creative process that feeds into one another. It was fascinating to watch the participants respond to the various emotions of music that I composed, at the same time I drew inspiration from the characters and stories they created.

It is great to have witnessed the whole process and how it all came together at the showcase. It all started just by observing characters on the streets and with their amazing imagination and creativity, they created such rich and different characters with very captivating and some humorous monologues!


I would describe the arts gymnasium group as a garden of creativity where we support each other and grow together. This concept was sparked by looking at videos of participants forming a tree as a group in one of the activities in the sessions. I am very grateful to have been part of the ‘tree’ in the flourishing ‘garden’ that is nurtured by our facilitators. Not only have I observed how the participants built up their confidence over the sessions, personally, it has greatly helped me to realise my potential as a composer as well.  We were all rather uncertain and not as confident with the characters initially, but with the encouragement to experiment and try out ideas, we all created something beautiful for the showcase!

In relation to what I have mentioned about the ‘garden’, here is a piece that I created based on the recording of ‘forming a tree’ in the arts gymnasium session.


‘Garden of Creativity’

I believe we need to keep building this creative ‘ecosystem’ in our community as I have personally experienced and witnessed the positive impacts that it brings to participants as well as artists ourselves.

Video of Belgrade Arts Gym project

Tall Dance Tales

2nd session- mirroring with my music!

May 2

I could not make it to this session but it was so heartening to see my music being used! I was quite emotional and had a moment when I saw this video it was just so magical and beautiful! They created so much more than the music itself.

I am really really grateful for these opportunities and supportive people to collaborate with. It really gives so much more meaning to the work and music that I am doing.

Some mirroring work they did and is a great way to encourage them to work with one another.


Tall Dance Tales

First session was a blast!

April 25

I didn’t know what to expect but was quite excited to work with special needs children for the first time. It went well and time flew by so quickly I was like in a daze when it ended!

This is why I love working with children they are so full of energy and looking at them being so in the moment just makes me smile. 🙂

We explored the different animals that will be used in the fables and designed 3 movements to an animal we picked. Their imagination never fails to amaze me and came up with great moves!

Devising animal poses
Check out these moves!

I really like how we have a mini sharing at the end so it gives a chance to look at what we have created and its just so beautiful to watch! Everyone took an animal in the group and they interacted like a community in their habitat.

I especially worked with a special needs child and he often drifted off to the windows and I tried to get him engaged in the activities we were doing.  It was very heartwarming to see him engaged and moving freely when we did some side activities with the scarves and I could just see him engrossed in his own world but really enjoying the moment!


Having some play with scarves!

The children really enjoyed  things that they can hold on to and this multi-sensory approach is very useful!

The ebb and flow of the scarves inspired me as I felt something very enchanting and beautiful happening around the room.

I went on to write something glittery and swirling around like something magical that is drifting in the air with each wave of the scarf.

It was only the first session but I felt so much and it was lovely to see everyone smiling and happy when they left the rooms!

I remember feeling so blissful at the end of the day when I got home… it was that feeling that I have done something good! It is quite hard to describe it but the feeling that though my body was tired my soul and heart felt really happy and it just felt right~

Tall Dance Tales

Tall Dance Tales

Kith, a community dance organisation specialising in well-being through movement and Entrust Care Partnership, supporting families with children with additional needs have joined forces to launch an inclusive dance project based on Aesop’s well-loved fables where children of all abilities explore creative movement.


There will be 12 sessions in total with the last 3 sessions at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and the goal in mind is not to rehearse something specific for a performance but rather allow the children the freedom to fully explore movement by engaging their whole body and devise ideas by themselves, creating a rather organic and natural form of learning.

I have always wanted to do something dance related as I believe its the best form of expression when combined with music! And always wanted to work with special needs and see how arts can be used to help them get engaged so I jumped at this opportunity to get involved and offered to compose music based on the stories or as appropriate.

Instead of just composing music for the lessons, I will be drawing on movements/dance from the children as inspirations and ideas for my composition which could then later on be used and this is what makes community arts so great ! that it is a two way development process and our ideas feed into one another.



The Legend of Mike Smith

I was really interested in this show- knowing its jazz improvisation, hip hop, dance, theatre, musicians! YES! What a great combination!

So glad that I got to watch it today

 an incredible staged performance of award-winning jazz and hip hop star Soweto Kinch’s album. With jazz improvisation, a driving hip hop score and choreography from a pioneer of British Hip Hop culture, Jonzi D.

Inspired by The Seven Deadly Sins and Dante’s Inferno, Soweto tells the story of Mike Smith, a young, aspiring MC caught in a world of temptation where the boundaries of reality and fantasy collide.zi D. Inspired by The Seven Deadly Sins and Dante’s Inferno, Soweto tells the story of Mike Smith, a young, aspiring MC caught in a world of temptation where the boundaries of reality and fantasy collide.

It was great!! Sick beats and great to see live music combined with dance and theatre and really inspired by how it all comes together as a show.

I like the simplicity that even with just a few instruments bass guitar, double bass, drums, saxophone you can do so much with it and the freestyle concept. FREEDOM

Pretty cool that the guy plays the double bass and bass guitar as well. Really taking it in and observing how the drum beat changes with the pace of the story. Saxophone sounds so beautiful especially when it ‘cries’ , really brings out the emotions.

loved it when he broke into freestyle improv rap and interact with the audience! so fun and exciting.

Seeing this show makes me think about the variety of skills that a musician should have and here Soweto is a composer, dancer, rapper,  actor. I love interdisciplinary and by combining them it creates something great.

It makes me realise the feasibility of putting on a show that uses minimal but still is engaging and impactful. The stage is simple with just a cover with slits in middle, but the lighting was well used and went really well in the moment he was having a ‘breakdown’ flashing lights matching the intense music that depict the battle in his mind.

There is so much to learn and take in by just watching a show and observing the different elements of it and how they work together.

Really interesting to see storytelling dance/movement such as the scene in the tube. puts dance in a different context and integrates into theatre and i think the choreography worked really well as it made good use of different heights to layer. With 3 people they had a part where they stood in front of one another and did hand gestures/movements and visually it worked great.

There are so many areas of consider in a production, visually, aurally- sounds , engagement with audience and the balance of emotions. There needs to be some light-heartedness after some sad scenes. There really is so much to take in and I wouldn’t mind to watch it again! Several themes were explored as well though I haven’t fully grasped them. There’s the main theme about the recording industry, about crime, materialism ( all that shopping) , standing up for self, inner conflicts…

This is why live shows are great. It really impacts you and inspires you, inputting new ideas and gets you thinking about different possibilities.