Jessica Jackson, Gold Arts Award

We catch up with Jessica from Formby High School about her experience of completing her Gold Arts Award in dance.

Jessica Jackson, Gold Arts Award

Getting involved with Arts Award

I first became involved with the Gold Arts Award after choosing it as a 6th Form enrichment topic. As I enjoy the Arts and in particular Music and Dance, I chose the course after hearing about it from the Arts Award teacher at school, Mrs Victoria Harrocks. Mrs Harrocks explained that the course would be a journey, exploring an Arts discipline, creating my own work and then creating a showing of the work. I was immediately interested in the course as I realised that I could gain valuable work experience doing something I enjoyed and I would have the freedom to explore my own ideas and create new work.

My Arts journey began by exploring various genres of International dance with a focus on Irish dance. I wanted to further develop my knowledge and skills in this discipline so chose it as my focus. During this journey I developed my dance and choreographic skills. As I developed new techniques and took responsibility for a school dance club, I discovered that I also had a desire to create new choreography. Mrs Harrocks provided me with help and inspiration by regularly discussing my progress and my ideas and in suggesting ways to find work experience and trusting me with a school dance club. She also helped support me whilst planning the performances of my pieces.


I took part in many activities for the Gold Arts Award. I attended a performance by Rambert dance company where they performed ‘A Linha Curva’, their Brazilian style ‘party’ piece. After the performance I wrote a review of it where I discussed the movement, style, set and atmosphere of the piece. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in a class held by one of the dancers from Rambert, where we were taught some of the choreography from ‘A Linha Curva’. This definitely helped with my experience and knowledge of International dance by learning new movement in a diverse cultural style. I was also lucky enough to be selected as part of a team to perform at UDance at The Lowry Manchester. During UDance I enjoyed various workshops: I took part in a Bollywood and a Capoeira class, which was very beneficial in helping expand my knowledge of International dance styles, learning new techniques and choreography.

I also researched various dance theatre companies and individual dance performers. Michael Flatley was the first person I researched as he is one of the main figures known for Irish dance. I learnt about his background and the impact that he had on Irish dance. I also looked at Company Chameleon which is a dance company who focus on expression, creativity and physicality. Researching a diverse combination of dance practitioners and groups helped me to gain a broader knowledge of dance techniques and showed me how choreography can be created to express a theme. 

One part of the Arts Award I really enjoyed, but also helped me develop my analytical skills, was the Arts issue essay. For this I read about peoples experiences and viewpoints on the issue of body image in dance. The essay made me research different opinions and allowed me to understand the subject and form my own opinions on the topic. I think this essay was challenging to write but also it gave me the chance to learn about independent study and to discuss different views with my friends and teachers.

Gold Arts Award Unit 1 and 2

At the start of the Arts Award in Unit 1, I made an Irish dance piece which I showcased at the 2017 Music for Youth event. This was the culmination of skills that I learned in Irish dance which I passed on to a dance club. Then I created a piece of Irish dance which the club performed to ‘The Spinners Wheel’. For my written work and log I created a portfolio that I kept up-to-date by diarising my activities on a weekly basis. The portfolio contained a log of my progress on video clips showing myself and my group work shopping choreography and also the final performance. 

For Unit 2, my piece was performed in a dance show held at school. For both events I created the choreography, taught the choreography to the dancers and then organised a showing of the work. The Unit 2 showing was a larger scale event as I organised an entire dance performance, inviting dancers from school and the local community to enjoy dance, this was also a way of showcasing my own work within a dance event.

What I learnt

I realised that it was important for me to learn new styles and skills, however along the way I discovered British Contemporary Dance, which can reflect on historical and political themes and can present a message. I realised that I wanted to make meaningful work that could present an important message to a young audience. My final showcase piece was based on body image after writing my essay and learning about the impact this can have on dancers and young people. I learnt that dance can be a powerful way to entertain, to present a culture and also to convey an idea or message.

Doing the Arts Award was very valuable to me as it allowed me to develop many beneficial Arts and life skills. In the beginning I found the written work to be a challenge. I found it difficult to write down my ideas and communicate them well. My written and communication skills improved throughout the process and now I can research independently and confidently explain a topic and my views on it. I also learned leadership skills and I have the confidence to organise an event or a showcase. You just have to be organised, hardworking and people will usually help you if you just ask.

Get involved with Arts Award 

Arts Award (What is Arts Award?)  helps you to grow your talents, explore the arts, be a creative leader and get a qualification. If you’re already participating, go you! Head over to our Bronze and Gold hubs for more inspiration and support. 

Join our Arts Award alumni network 

We’re on the lookout for Arts Award alumni everywhere! We’re here to help support you in your next career steps and offer some useful and interesting benefits! Find out more and sign up

Write for us 

Help others like you get through their Arts Award qualification by writing about your tips and experiences. Become a Voice Contributor today


Nici West

Nici West Voice Team

Nici is the an editor for Voice. She loves all things books, theatre, music, art, visiting other countries, anything creative, and sometimes attempts to make YouTube videos. Alongside Voice she writes and edits through her own pursuits.You can occasionally find her running marathons dressed as a black dog.

We need your help supporting young creatives

Recent posts by this author

View more posts by Nici West


Post A Comment

You must be signed in to post a comment. Click here to sign in now

You might also like



by Flo Cornall

Read now