Dancing in the Grainger

University of Melbourne English students learning Cuban dance moves in the courtyard of the Grainger Museum.
Students learning Cuban dance moves in the courtyard of the Grainger Museum.

Cuban Artists, including dancer Alejandro Espinosa and Percussionist Rodolfo Hechevarría, supported by Associate Professor in Latin American Studies and Cuban Percussionist, A/Prof Adrian Hearn, filled the Grainger Museum with infectious dance rhythms in an engagement with first year University of Melbourne students in the Linguistics subject ESLA10003 Academic English 1, coordinated by Dr Celia Thompson.

The 2 x 2 hour seminars at the Grainger incorporated both experiential learning in dance and percussion in the courtyard of the Museum, and an object-based learning exercise across all of the Museum galleries.These diverse engagements really extended students’ understanding of the important role played by music and performance in the lives of Australians from culturally diverse backgrounds, and especially in the case of people who have migrated from Cuba.

Academic English at Grainger 4.4.17 from Grainger Museum on Vimeo.

Students created short videos on their own phones, describing their encounters with aspects of material culture and identity narratives that sparked their curiosity in the Museum. These videos form content for the following week’s tutorials held in Arts West.

Dear Heather, I would like to sincerely thank you on behalf of the students and tutors from 'Academic English 1' (Subject code: ESLA10003) for our day at the Percy Grainger Museum on April 4th this year. Your enthusiasm and knowledge about the Museum, combined with your assistance in planning a really stimulating mixture of activities, has provided the students with a number of extremely valuable insights into the relationships between music, identity and culture in an Australian context. It is precisely these themes that underpin our study of different migrant groups in Australia that we undertake in 'Academic English 1'. I was delighted to see how students engaged with such a variety of exhibits, ranging from a letter to Percy Grainger from his mother, to a photograph of Grainger in South Africa taken at the turn of the 20th century.  I think that our visit will be one of the highlights of this semester's study. Dr Celia Thompson, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics, course co-ordinator Academic English 1