What does Arts in Education practice look like? Read about the processes and partnerships behind current projects happening around Ireland.

CREATIVE DANCE TALES – A Digital Resource for Teachers and Dance Artists

Mateusz Szczerek & Ivonne Kalter in CoisCéim's THE WOLF AND PETER by David Bolger - Photo by Ros Kavanagh

Tell us the story of your project – What was the impetus? What was it about? Who was involved? How did you begin?

CREATIVE DANCE TALES is storytelling through dance. It began as a pilot workshop series supported by The Ireland Funds in 2015, and ran in parallel with David Bolger’s production THE WOLF AND PETER by CoisCéim Dance Theatre. The workshops were delivered to over 300 children in 8 primary schools around Ireland, giving children an imaginative, kinaesthetic learning experience in dance. Two professional development workshops for educators were also held in Dublin and Galway. In part CREATIVE DANCE TALES emerged from requests made by teachers in primary schools. It was supported by CoisCéim’s Arts Council funded residency at The School of Arts, Education and Movement, Institute of Education, St Patrick’s Campus, DCU, and as a legacy to the three year residency, was developed by CoisCéim Broadreach and the Physical Education Unit.

How were the ideas developed and how did the young people, artist and teacher work together?

The project evolved through working with children in different primary school settings nationwide, and through working with the Physical Education Unit and undergraduate student teachers from The Institute of Education, formally St Patrick’s College, on an in-school creative dance project as part of the physical education major specialism.

In autumn 2015, Philippa Donnellan (Director of CoisCéim BROADREACH) worked with children in different primary school settings nationwide in parallel with a national tour of CoisCéim Dance Theatre’s production of The Wolf and Peter by David Bolger, the Artistic Director. In spring 2016 she then commenced work with the Physical Education Unit and undergraduate student teachers from The Institute of Education DCU, formerly St Patrick’s College, on a creative dance project as part of their physical education major specialism studies. Content and ideas drew from the musical score and the choreographic and dramatic material of The Wolf and Peter. Philippa led the work, building on the students’ previous work in creative dance as part of their PE modules. Following on this, the students were supported teaching dance to local primary school children using the Creative Dance Tales draft lesson plans. These were subsequently revised based on observations of the student teachers planning and teaching as well as the responses of children. The lesson plans provide detailed and easy to follow guidance on creative dance activities inspired by Peter’s dance, the dance of the Hunters and of course the Wolf dance. The Creative Dance Tales digital resource is the culmination of this work involving children, an artist, student teachers and teacher educators.

What was your personal experience of the project in terms of successes and challenges?

From the point of view of the DANCE ARTIST – The success of the project was witnessing how fully the children engaged and enjoyed working creatively in dance. Almost without exception, their enthusiasm and excitement in ‘becoming the wolf’ or animating the character of Peter and dancing together demonstrated how positive dance activity as a mode of learning. Challenges have included developing a fully comprehensive digital resource, which maintains artistic integrity within a clear education framework, and is engaging and accessible for teachers and dance artists alike.

From the point of view of the LECTURERS IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION – The successes from our perspective included the engagement of the student teachers with the CREATIVE TALES DANCE workshops and the quality of their work. Observing the progression in the student teachers teaching of the dance lessons to the local primary school children was encouraging. The student teachers pedagogical skills improved, as well as the quality of the children’s performances. The student teachers confidence and understanding to teach creative dance was evident in their comments and reflective diaries.  The opportunities for the students, staff, local primary school children and their teachers to see the performance of THE WOLF AND PETER at the St. Patrick’s Campus auditorium was a positive and enriching community event. Challenges included the administration involved in the various aspects of the project, the time required to write, design, and edit the resource.

What was significant for you about the project that is worth sharing?

The project helped to link the Physical Education lecturers, student teachers, teachers, children, CoisCéim and other curriculum staff members on a joyful, meaningful, visual and practical dance journey, which was linked to the Irish Primary School Curriculum (1999).  The CREATIVE DANCE TALES digital resource is a significant teaching support available on the Arts Portal website for teachers, student teachers and others.

Has anything changed in your work as a result of the project?

From the point of view of the DANCE ARTIST – As the lead Dance Artist on this project, the experience and understanding gained from working in varied formal educational settings – has clarified my own dance education work. In particular I believe it has simplified, yet focused my teaching skills and the different methods I employ in guiding children to grow and learn creatively.

From the point of view of the LECTURERS IN PHYSICAL EDUCATION – Having the CREATIVE DANCE TALE resource will support physical education dance work with student teachers. Having the resource available in digital format allows easy access for the student teachers to teach the lessons while on school placement. They can inform teachers in their school placement schools of the availability of the resource. The Physical Education Unit and The Irish Primary Physical Education Association can share the link to the resource on their respective websites.

To download the resource pack, click here.

For individual teacher lesson plan



Philippa Donnellan trained in Contemporary Dance Technique at The Martha Graham School, New York, and gained an M.A in Dance Studies from Surrey University, UK. Philippa has extensive experience as a performer, teacher and choreographer.  She continues to evolve her creative dance practice through working with a wide variety of communities of place, age, ability, and location.

Philippa joined CoisCéim Dance Theatre in 2006 to set up BROADREACH – participation and engagement programme. As part of BROADREACH she has facilitated residencies, associations and partnerships with a number of leading Irish institutions. Philippa has directed and choreographed a range of projects for CoisCéim’s youth dance group Creative Steps, and adults in The Choreography Project, developed an annual Dublin City Council/BROADREACH  performance project for people aged 50+as part of Bealtaine Festival (2007 – 2015), and choreographed performances with Dublin Bus drivers as part of Gut Busters - a major health initiative for CIE. In addition, Philippa led and coordinated the Teacher Education element of CoisCéim’s 3 Year Dance Residency at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra 2013 - 2016.

In 2013 BROADREACH was awarded a CocoCola Thank You Fund Award for which Philippa directed The Beat Project – an intergenerational dance/music performance project which was presented at The Big Bang Festival of Rhythm, Dublin in June of the same year. Following an award from IPB Insurance, a second intergenerational project Striking Moves was created and performed at the same festival in 2014. In 2015, Philippa led a nationwide workshop programme, CREATIVE DANCE TALES, for primary school children, which ran in parallel to CoisCéim’s production The Wolf and Peter. She also directed Feast on Dance: The Main Course, CoisCéim/Dublin City Council’s for people aged 50+ Bealtaine project presented at City Hall, Dublin, and for Age & Opportunity, led training workshops as part of Creative Exchange for care workers and artists to develop movement activities for older people in care settings.

In 2016, she collaborated with theatre maker Noelle Brown to lead a dance/theatre exploration project Emily for people aged 50+ about the poetry of Emily Dickenson, and directed a new performance project in partnership with Dance Limerick entitled Here’s Looking At You Kid. Philippa also mentored a dance film project for Creative Steps youth group Where Are We Now? Four films were created, which have been screened at a range of youth/film events. In autumn 2016 she directed a large scale intergenerational women’s project 38 WOMEN, in parallel with THESE ROOMS


Susan Marron is a lecturer in the School of Arts Education and Movement at Dublin City University Institute of Education.  A former second-level Physical Education and Geography secondary school teacher, Susan has been lecturing in physical education since 2004 and is currently International Convenor for the School of Arts Education and Movement.  Susan’s research focuses on fundamental movements skills of children and young people and digital technology and PE and inclusion.  She creates resources to support teachers in implementing programmes which engage their students in quality movement. Her MSc study focussed on physical activity in the primary school playground at break time.

Dr Frances Murphy is a lecturer in the School of Arts Education and Movement at Dublin City University Institute of Education.  A former primary teacher, Frances has worked on curriculum development for physical education at primary level for a number of years.  Frances’ research interests include mentoring teachers to enhance their teaching practice, continuing professional development, teacher beliefs and practices, inclusion of children with special needs and assessment, all with a particular focus on physical education.

Dr Maura Coulter is a lecturer in primary physical education in the School of Arts Education and Movement at Dublin City University Institute of Education.  Prior to joining academia in 2000, Maura held a teaching position in second-level physical education at St Patrick's Girls Academy, Dungannon.  Maura’s research interests include professional development, teacher education, mentoring,  outdoor learning, digital technology and PE, and self-study of teacher practice.

(Curator, agency, etc):

CoisCéim BROADREACH - creativity, participation, access

The participation and engagement arm of CoisCéim Dance Theatre, BROADREACH was founded on the principle that dance is a performing art. Its activities are pioneering, targeting all sections­­ of the population in an exciting and innovative manner to create a genuine curiosity in dance. Every year, BROADREACH touches the lives of thousands of people, through classes, workshops, residencies and dance performance participation projects.

DCU Institute of Education

The DCU Institute of Education is the newest faculty of Dublin City University. Established through the incorporation of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, Mater Dei Institute of Education, Church of Ireland College of Education and the DCU School of Education Studies, it has a staff of more than 125 full-time academics and a student body in excess of 4,000. It comprises of six Schools of which The School of Arts Education and Movement is one. The new Institute brings together students of education across all sectors from early childhood, to primary and post-primary and further education and training. As well as providing a range of undergraduate programmes in education, the Institute offers a rich menu of taught and research-based post-graduate programmes, at doctoral, masters, diploma and certificate levels. As a centre of expertise and excellence in teacher education and education more generally, it hosts a range of research centres in key areas of priority and has an ambitious programme of research across education. With internationally recognised experts in policy, curriculum and pedagogy, assessment and teacher education, the Institute provides a learning environment that is student-centred and inclusive.


Philippa Donnellan


Susan Marron

Dr Frances Murphy

Dr Maura Coulter


Dance & Movement

School Level


Participant Group


Dublin City


Ages 6 - 12


From 2015 - ongoing


Leading Agency

CoisCéim BROADREACH & School of Arts Education and Movement, Institute of Education, St. Patrick’s Campus, Dublin City University

Key themes/ lines of enquiry

Initial Teacher Education, Teaching children dance, and storytelling through dance

Curriculum Strands

The resource provides opportunities to connect Physical Education with Music, Visual Arts, Drama Mathematics, SPHE, Literacy

Research or relevant publications

CREATE 21 Research study related to Mentoring currently being analysed by the Physical Education Unit, Schools of Arts Education and Movement, Institute of education, DCU.

Ivonne Kalter as Peter and Mateusz Szczerek as The Wolf in CoisCéim Dance Theatre's THE WOLF AND PETER by David Bolger_Photo Ros Kavanagh

Ivonne Kalter in CoisCéim's THE WOLF AND PETER by David Bolger - Photo by Ros Kavanagh

Children from St. Patrick's Boys NS Drumcondra - Photo by Anthony Griffin

Mateusz Szczerek and Ivonne Kalter in CoisCéim Dance Theatre's THE WOLF AND PETER by David Bolger - Photo Ros Kavanagh

Mateusz Szczerek in CoisCéim's THE WOLF AND PETER by David Bolger - Photo by Ros Kavanagh

Children from St. Patrick's Boys NS Drumcondra - Photo by Anthony Griffin

Children from St. Patrick's Boys NS Drumcondra - Photo by Anthony Griffin

Children from St. Patrick's Boys NS Drumcondra - Photo by Anthony Griffin