Meet Phoenix a young heritage #YoungWummin researcher

Phoenix, a student at Braeview Academy, has been working with Shaper Caper Dance company to explore the role of women in World War One as part of the #YoungWummin project. He was written this blog about his experience of being a young heritage researcher and what he's learned along the way. 

This term in drama, we were given the opportunity to work with Shaper Caper Dance Company and explore the role of women in World War One through the media of dance and film. This project has been a lot of fun, and I think that our energy and enthusiasm is reflected in our final performance.

We began by researching various topics associated with World War One, for example, the significance of poppies.  We also learned about the different types of research and explored a variety of methods of collecting information, such as interviews, questionnaires and group research. Through these activities, the team improved their literacy skills and critical thinking. We defined our three main topics as mental health, jobs and relationships and were responsible for independent and collaborative research.

Our choreographers, Kaja and Jourdan, introduced us to literature from the period and showed us how to translate the meaning and message of the poetry into a movement piece. The majority of the group had very little experience in using dance but, quickly, they began to use levels and express emotions through movement. Combining our research and new skills, we created duets and worked in groups to express our knowledge and insight into how the war impacted on real people’s lives.

One of the most exciting parts of the project was a visit to the National Library and Sky Academy in Edinburgh. My peers and I were given a tour of this important building, learning about different exciting books and finding out facts about the library. I found it fascinating that the National Library had one copy of every book ever written in Scotland. I was also intrigued to learn more about Muriel Spark after observing her work at the exhibition. On the tour, we were given a fantastic opportunity to visit ‘The Void’ which is an underground area where prisoners used to be held. It was quite spooky but most of us were impressed - however Paul hasn’t slept a wink since!

My friends and I were extremely excited to have the chance to explore a professional Media Studio, and when we arrived at Sky Academy, all of my expectations were met. The building was very modern, and the activity was practical and very cool. I took on the role of director whilst my friends enjoyed reporting/performing roles. We also developed our journalistic skills as we produced short, historical, on-location reports. It was really valuable to meet with the other groups taking part in the project as we all looked at the theme from very different perspectives. By the end of the busy day we had developed a good rapport with the other participants as we were united by a common aim.

Filming on-location at Broughty Ferry Castle was definitely my favourite part of the project, even though it was freezing cold. We had to record each section many times from different angles. It was very important for us to maintain continuity and keep our energy levels up. We really pulled together as a team and, as a result, captured lots of excellent footage to feed into the editing process. The whole group was extremely proud of our final product. I really liked the poignant moments that were created through visual imagery and evocative music.

I feel I have greater depth of understanding of the emotions these characters experienced and the challenges they faced. This creative project was an excellent way to learn about social history and has also been an amazing opportunity to develop skills we can use in our futures. 

The #YoungWummin exhibition will be on display at the National Library of Scotland from today until 29th September. Visit for free and take a look at the exhibition that has been put together and researched by young people, thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund funding. 

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