Studying the way young children naturally move has given two professional dancers and mums a whole new insight into the world of dance.

Grace Surman and Katy Raven both have an impressive record in performing and teaching movement and dance.

Grace, 42, trained at the Dartington College of Arts and The School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, and is a visiting lecturer on the Contemporary Performance Practice under-graduate Programme housed at the prestigious Royal Conservatoire in Scotland.

Meanwhile, Katy, 30, trained at The Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds, and has danced nationally and internationally, as well as having devised and taught workshops for people of a wide range of ages and abilities.

Now the pair, who each have two children of their own, are pouring their expertise into fun classes for younger children, which emphasise the child’s creative and thinking body, in Ilkley.

They believe allowing youngsters to express themselves through movement, and moving in as natural a way as possible, can be of great benefit to a child in growing up – and beyond.

“I worked with a woman at the Northern who had done a piece with children, and she would always talk about how organic the way that children move is. They only make movements that work for them,” said Katy.

“So when I had my boys, I looked at them, and how they moved so naturally and without inhibition.”

Their Moor Movement classes, held at and supported by Ilkley Playhouse, focus on developing children’s fitness, co-ordination, co-operation, balance and body awareness, rather than teaching them to conform to the practices of more formal, traditional dance styles.

Similarly, Grace’s own career has seen her practice a technique which involved stripping down dance and movement, and going back to look at the basic, natural movements of children.

“I’m very interested in people and their own creativity,” she said.

And encouraging such expression through movement can begin even before a child can walk.

Classes for babies utilise baby massage, and encourage the parent or carer to get down on the same level as the child, and encourage them to copy simple gestures and movements – which the youngsters are delighted to do. Sessions give both parents and young children space and freedom to move and express themselves naturally, when in everyday life – such as in the home, out in the street, or the classroom – they are often expected to stand or sit still.

Katy and Grace believe giving youngsters the chance to express themselves physically is something that will benefit their self-confidence and self-awareness as they take the next steps towards adulthood. Moor Movement classes take place on Thursday afternoons at Ilkley Playhouse, Weston Road.

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