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Happy 21st Birthday RedZebra!

21 years ago on the 9th November 1994, RedZebra founders Oliver and Mark met and a few months later, RedZebra was born. What better way to celebrate than with RZ team members and our friends at UNICEF!

Oliver and Mark found each other at an event for social change, finding they shared the same creative ideas, drive and beliefs. All those years ago, and with no plan of how to achieve it, they had a vision that they would take their passion and find a way of working with the UN, driving change and empowerment.

So did they achieve it? Let’s let Oliver take it from here…

“Our RedZebra journey has taken us across 70 countries reaching over 2 million people with our passion to connect people and create possibility. It happened that those millions of footsteps we have taken over the years brought us to Helsinki to collaborate with UNICEF. What a birthday gift for us – a dream becoming true”

Cheers team!

 

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Employee Engagement – How you can really build your business.

We have worked for over 20 years at increasing employee engagement levels in a variety of different environments; from local community groups, to within the teams of large corporations.

In this post we look at how you can improve employee engagement in your organisation.

But first, we look at some of the evidence, which shows that employee engagement leads to more successful and profitable business results.

The correlation between employee engagement, well-being, and profitable results is repeated too often for it not to be a coincidence.

A large number of studies have taken place that look at the impact of high levels of employee engagement on business outcomes.

Susan Sorenson from Gallop writes an article How Employee Engagement Drives Growth. She writes, ‘Gallup researchers studied the differences in performance between engaged and actively disengaged work units and found that those scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly doubled their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half.’

A Havard Study found 71% of respondents rank employee engagement as very important to achieving overall organizational success.

 

But what is employee engagement?

Bruce Kasanoff writes a great article on employer engagement and sums it up perfectly: ‘Employee engagement is not about hiring brilliant people who are uniquely talented. It is about bringing human beings together so that they magnify each other’s strengths.’

 

So what do you need to build employee engagement?

RedZebra’s Breakthrough Teamwork Model takes employees and employers through what we believe are the essential pillars that improve employee engagement and deliver breakthrough business performance:

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  • Trust – Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. To be your word. Do what you say. To have Integrity. Your behaviours mirror your words.
  • Alignment – Alignment with others in the belief to take a certain action. You understand the plan, your role and what action you need to take. You own the outcome. Put your skin in the game.
  • Ownership – An attitude of accepting responsibility for something and taking control of how it develops. To hold yourself accountable for the result achieved. To go beyond. To do what it takes.
  • Positive Mindset – A positive mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations. To see opportunity in every challenge. To be restless in the search of a better solution.
  • Agility – The ability to think quickly, solve problems and have new ideas. The response time it takes to move from a challenge to opportunity finding. Mobilise the people and resources you need to find a solution.

 

How can RedZebra bring these five things to your organisation?

Here at RedZebra we can tailor make a package to your needs. We aim to deliver inspiring workshops that engage and motivate your employees. Just as we did with Coca Cola, you can see just what we did and the positive on employee engagement here.

RedZebra create workshops where participants interact with each other in fresh and exciting ways. These enjoyable activities promote all of the five points outlined above and boost employee engagement to a whole new level– inspiring your team to work together more creatively, collaboratively and effectively in the future.

Please do get in contact with us if you would like to chat about improving your employee engagement, we will be happy to help!

 

Sources:

http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/163130/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx

https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/comm/achievers/hbr_achievers_report_sep13.pdf

http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucekasanoff/2014/10/21/employee-engagement-101/

https://www.redzebra.uk.com/clients/ – 400

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RedZebra Body Percussion Workshops

One of RedZebra’s engaging workshops, used at many team development events, leadership workshops,corporate conferences and community events is Body Percussion.

Body Percussion empowers and unites any team or community. But where did it come from and how does it work?

The history of this workshop is a wonderful story of empowerment through creativity, dating back to 1999.

RedZebra co-founders Ollie and Mark travelled to New York for a creativity conference, they went into the inner city schools delivering musical workshops. It was in one of the more underprivileged schools they saw what the children called ‘stepping;’ A form of dance that uses the body to produce rhythms and sounds. It included feet stamps, finger clicks, hand claps and so many other unexpected sounds created using only the human body.

During another visit, in June 2004, they attended a Juneteenth event (a holiday celebrating the abolition of slavery in the USA) and here they saw more ‘Stepping.’ This time it was a competition, lots of drill teams performing their routines (you can see the scale of it in our picture below). It was an inspirational event, showing the power of music to unite and empower school children.

Ollie and Mark loved this concept and have adapted it into a workshop form that can be used at any corporate or community event and called it Body Percussion.

 

So what happens…

The facilitators do a short performance to inspire participants with the capabilities of the human body to create rhythm!

We break into teams and each learn a different rhythm sequence: contemporary hip hop dance beats, traditional African, Brazilian and Cuban.

They then return for their big performance and often showcase some individual dance moves.

The finale takes it up another level as RedZebra facilitate a medley of all teams simultaneously!

Workshops can be anything from 15 minutes to 4 hours, it can be indoors or Outdoors and involve 10 to 10000 participants.

 

And the outcome….

  • Unifies the group
  • Inspiring and energetic
  • The power of collaboration

 

 A Case study

We used the Body percussion workshops in our Dance4life programme. We had 59000 kids in 19 different countries all performing one of our Body Percussion routines… it was incredible! The power and unity created through this routine was truly amazing.

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Autism and Rhythm: Marching To a Different Drummer

At RedZebra we are committed to our work within the community.

Our very own group Unified Rhythm comprises of mainstream and special educational needs young people.

Our Autism and Rhythm blog digs deeper into the human relationship with time and rhythm and how this can aid with the challenges that many with autism face.

In 2013, a paper on the relationship between timing, rhythm and autism was published in the journal “Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience”. The author, Pat Amos, is a mother of four children, with three being on the autistic spectrum. In the paper, Amos explored disruption in the neurological development of those diagnosed with autism and the consequences of this. She also looked for ways to manage autism and considered the positive effects rhythm and timing can have on these individuals.

So what challenges do those with autism face? Can an insight into the human relationship with time and rhythm really provide a workable solution?

A Different Drummer

When we consider the needs of people on the autistic spectrum, we might talk about them as ‘marching to a beat of a different drummer.’

This is because for an autistic person, emotions are harder to read, language development is delayed and even the task of taking part in a conversation is difficult. There is also the issue of repetitive thought or physical behaviour, such as hand tapping.

Controlling movement is challenging for a person with autism – as Amos describes in her paper, when remembering how her own son, when he was a child, would search his body for buttons to control his movements.

A person with autism might behave unusually to everyday situations too, such as a fire engine driving past at high speed. They are likely to display signs of discomfort, acting differently to a sibling whose neuro-development has been normal.

Externally, a person with autism may look ‘normal’, but under the surface, the internal wiring is very different. This can result in unusual actions and curious responses.

Rhythm in Communications

Even as babies we are aware of the power of timing and rhythm in communications with caregivers, such as siblings or parents.

As we grow up, we learn to recognise when to dip into conversation and what non-verbal signs of communication indicate we are listening. Caregivers of those with autism however, report that even from as young as twelve months, their children are hard to engage with and do not respond in the way you might expect a baby to respond. This continues throughout childhood and as the child enters the toddler stage, a lack of preverbal communication is also likely to be noticed.

Research carried out in the States on babies (who were later diagnosed with autism) attempting to crawl and roll over, were also seen to be lacking in superimposed movements, and an underdevelopment of motor skills.

But poor engagement and lack of motor skills aren’t the only challenges those with autism face. Synchronisation is another complicated area.

Out of Sync

If you’ve ever walked down the street and almost crashed into an oncoming person, only to perform the awkward ‘pavement dance’ of stepping to the left and right, you will recognise the importance of synchronisation.

How we time ourselves and predict the timings of others is a crucial player in building and maintaining relationships. Those with autism are often unable to recognise these social cues and other timings.

Studies carried out on individuals with autism have discovered that overstimulation over the five senses is a key contributor to the personality of autism. Not only will this cause distinct stress to the individual, but it will also cause concern for caregivers. Amos uses an example of a child who will silence the television and use subtitles on the screen, so as to reduce sensory overload to just a visual medium.

Watching a television show, where the audio and visual isn’t synced properly, will leave you feeling frustrated. Living with autism, is like watching that television show, on repeat for your waking life.

It can be overwhelming to consider the challenges those with autism face, in all areas of their lives. Not only are they slower to learn motor skills, they also find it difficult to connect with people on a mental and emotional level, constantly battling over-stimulation and distraction that we can simply filter out automatically.

Unpicking the internal wiring provides some clues to autism and how we might attempt to improve the lives of those living with it.

Bodily Rhythms

There are two systems operating in our bodies: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Both send information simultaneously through our body, in two-directional movements, with our bodies responding accordingly. These responses can be compromised through automatic responses such as fight or flight reflex or involuntary responses, such as dyspraxia or paralysis. For a person with autism, whose brainwaves may ‘veer into a chaotic state’, this can lead to seizures. Approximately eleven to thirty-nine percent of those with autism actually experience seizures. This can be frightening for the individual and of course their family and friends.

Autism can also affect a person’s circadian rhythm, which regulates our temperature and controls our sleeping patterns. Those who parent or teach children with autism have reported disrupted circadian rhythms, where children are unable to recognise when they are hungry or when they are tired. A change in seasons can disrupt a person with autism’s mood and personality, with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) often linked to those on the autistic spectrum.

Neurological studies on patients with and without autism have revealed that between some regions of the brain, those with autism show an increased pattern in communication, whereas in other areas, the patterns are decreased. These studies have also revealed that each person’s brain profile is uniquely synchronised, meaning that various brain profiles can fall under the umbrella term of ‘autism’.

The resting state of an autistic person’s brain, with under and over-connectivity patterns emerging, is vastly different to a non-autistic person. This will compromise behaviours and communications in social environments and also impair movement and synchronisation.

So what can be done to support those with autism?

Rebuilding Communication through Rhythm

Therapists are turning to the use of rhythm and timing to act as a support system to build communication between people with autism. Humans will intrinsically react to rhythm. But, although we are all receive rhythm in the same way, autistic individuals, with uniquely synchronised brain profiles, will process it very differently.

Rhythm-based sessions could hold the key to providing a safe and supported environment to those with autism. But it’s not just about hearing the rhythm. A particular pace of rhythm could be used to support the development of a particular movement or motor co-ordination.

Rhythm-based sessions, such as Unified Rhythm, can increase confidence in an individual with autism who is constantly over stimulated in our twenty-four hour, seven day a week existence. These carefully controlled environments, where all individuals are welcomed, not just those with neurological complications, provide a gateway to relief and a safe, non-judgemental environment.

At present, there is no scientific evidence to suggest rhythmic sessions provide any relief to those who partake. However, anecdotally, the results speak for themselves. Take the opportunity to see for yourself the positive effects it has on the participants. And if these people are returning, week after week, month after month, purely by choice, surely that is enough to convince that rhythm and timing can provide some benefit to those who need it most.

Sources

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3630367/

http://www.autismone.org/content/cherish-child-marching-beat-different-drummer-day-27

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autistic-spectrum-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2923828/People-autism-unique-brain-patterns-say-scientists-believe-discovery-help-earlier-diagnosis.html

http://www.tunedintolearning.com/rhythm-movement-and-autism/

http://conversationsthatmatter.org/presenters/amos-pat

http://www.integratethroughmovement.com/rhythmic-movement/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/thelabbench/2015/05/21/understanding-the-music-of-neural-communication-could-solve-brain-disorders/

http://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(15)00354-6/fulltext

https://vimeo.com/36480122

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Introducing Vusumzi!

RedZebra UK have always been dedicated to offering our services to the community, whether that be on our doorstep; in our local town of Brighton, or further afield; as far away as South Africa.

Our ongoing aim is to use music and creativity to engage and empower young people.

 

INTRODUCING VUSUMZI…

On a recent trip to our sister office in South Africa we had the pleasure of meeting an inspiring man called Vusumzi Dyantyi.

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Vusumzi lives in a township just outside of Cape Town and has exciting plans to help his local community. He is already helping facilitate two youth groups: one at an orphanage and another with the vulnerable youth in his township of Nyanga.

 

The projects aim to help young people take control of their lives through the encouragement of creative expression. He teaches life skills to young people and encourages creative expression through drumming, dance and theatre. 

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OUR INVOLVEMENT

RedZebra will be working alongside the RedZebraFoundation South Africa and Vusumzi to support the projects he will be delivering.

 

The projects will offer a safe space for creative dialogue and equip young people with the knowledge and skills to better understand the world in which they live.

 

We’ll be following Vusumzi’s progress with his weekly youth groups throughout the coming year and will be following the projects’ results with updates on our blog.

 

WHY WE CHOOSE TO HELP  

  • Finding opportunities for young people is a critical challenge for South Africa, where youth unemployment is at an all-time high.
  • It is imperative that South Africa leverage the talent and energy of its youth to create dramatically higher levels of prosperity and equality.

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dance4life India

Oliver and Mark have just returned from an inspiring and motivational tour as part of dance4life India. Here are a few photos to give you a flavour of our trip.

We are certain that the fantastic team we have just trained in India will go on to do great things. Together they will reach more than 100,000 young people in the next two years.

“DANCE4LIFE IS A WONDERFUL EXAMPLE OF HOW THE TALENT AND STRENGTH OF YOUNG PEOPLE CAN ENERGISE OUR STRUGGLE.”

Kofi Annan. Former Secretary General of the United Nations

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WHAT IS DANCE4LIFE?

The dance4life vision is to achieve a world where all young people enjoy sexual and reproductive health and rights.

THE MISSION

To empower young people to make safe sexual choices and bring an end to AIDS, unplanned pregnancies and sexual violence.

The dance4life foundation is based in Amsterdam, and supported by partner organisations worldwide. Since its inception, dance4life has reached over 1.4 million young people in 30 countries. Half of the young people involved so far became ‘agents4change’, continuing the global dance4life movement and spreading the message further. Here you can see our latest work with dance4life India.

 

How are RedZebra involved?

2014 marks the 10th year of dance4life and we are proud to have been involved from the very beginning. In 2003 RedZebra were engaged by dance4life to design a tour programme with the aim of inspiring, mobilizing and uniting young people to fight against HIV and AIDS. RedZebra designed a tour that has travelled to schools internationally to raise awareness, educate and empower young people. We use music and dance as the universal language that draws people together to form a strong and powerful community. From there, we stimulate dialogue, peer education and motivational tools to light a flame of inspiration and possibility in the hearts of young people worldwide. 

The tour follows these 4 steps, taking individuals on an empowering journey:

  • INSPIRE – Inspiring people through music and dance.
  • EDUCATE – Educating people on what they need to know and how to educate their peers.
  • ACTIVATE – Motivating people to become agents4change.
  • CELEBRATE – Celebrating their achievements and empowerment to drive change.

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How RedZebra reach the future of tomorrow

  • 10 Years, 30 Countries, Over 650,000 agents4change, Over 1.4million young people reached …and the dance4life family continues to grow.

Over the last ten years RedZebra have trained people in 28 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. 
Our RedZebra facilitators help inspire and educate young people to become agents4change, to spread the message further and drive change. The impact of this training is that, to date, over 650,000 young people have gone through the programme we designed and have gone on to become agents4change to spread the message further and drive change. Discover more at dance4life including the facts & figures, results, and strategy for 2014-2016

“YOUNG PEOPLE MOVE THEIR BODIES TO MOVE THEIR FUTURE. YOU WILL TURN THIS GLOBAL PROBLEM AROUND. YOU HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. YOU INSPIRE ME AND THE WORLD. SO START DANCING, STOP AIDS.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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Be The Hero of Your Own Story

We have an absolute commitment to creating a ‘breakthrough’ for your organisation, on both an individual level and for the whole of your team.

What does Leadership mean to us?

Leadership is a tricky word to define. Every successful company needs it, and you can definitely tell if your organisation is lacking in it.

At RedZebra, we break down the components of Leadership so that we can truly understand what it means and how we can put it into action.

Maybe you want to push yourself further; taking the step from being a great manager to becoming an exceptional leader?

Or, perhaps you want to inspire your already fantastic workforce to become inspirational leaders within your business?

Whatever your motivations, we will help you gain a personal insight into what makes you and your workers ‘tick’. We will push you outside of your comfort zone into exciting new territory, where you can become the best version of yourself.

How do we do it?

Our Leadership Programme inspires self-development and enhances the existing, but sometimes hidden skills of yourself and your team.

We explore essential concepts about the self; including personal purpose, qualities and strengths, you can be the hero of your own story.

Our focus then moves on to examining the behaviours and interpersonal skills that are needed to be an excellent leader.

Our proven facilitation techniques will create a powerful impact on your work force that will unlock the potential to become an inspirational and confident leader.

What we do not offer is an ‘off-the-shelf’ Leadership Skills course. Our passion lies in creating an outcome-focused programme that is unique and bespoke to your businesses particular needs.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in exploring further then please get in touch.

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7 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity

At RedZebra we are constantly pushing ourselves to be the most creative designers that we can possibly be.

Our job is to create original experiences that have an unforgettable impact on people for the better.

This means that we need to flex our creativity and come up with new ideas every week. But, sometimes, that can be harder than it sounds…

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We’ve been reading a great book by Chris Barez-Brown called How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas which suggests lots of tips for sparking your creativity, which got us thinking about how we work at RedZebra.

Here are our top seven tips for tapping into your creative side and some of the processes that we use ourselves. We’re letting you in on some of our biggest creative secrets here!

So if you’re stuck in a rut and want to push yourself further, try these steps;

1) REMEMBER, THERE’S NO RIGHT OR WRONG IN CREATIVITY

One important factor about creativity is that there’s no right or wrong answer. The biggest inhibitor of creativity is giving in to the fear of being wrong. Imagine whatever you want and explore new and original ideas.

During the creative process your path will twist and turn. You’ll make mistakes and learn from them along the way. We don’t know whether things will work until we try them out… So go for it!

2) BECOME MORE PLAYFUL

Don’t be afraid of giving in to your inner playfulness! Children are the real ‘creative gods’ of this world and we can learn a lot from them. They are always curious and have fun with exploring new ideas. As we get older we sometimes start to take life seriously and lose our sense of play.

Ask yourself this; which activities make you lose track of time? When you become completely absorbed in something your creative juices really start to flow. When we engage in something to this extent we have incredible focus on what we’re doing.

3) DON’T STOP ASKING QUESTIONS

Curious people are the most creative. If you ask yourself (and the people around you) lots of questions then you can explore new ideas and opinions. In Barez-Brown’s book he suggests that firstly you should ask yourself ‘Why?’ questions, followed by ‘How?’ questions. Then act upon them.

You can also ask questions of others. In our office we always look to each other for new ideas and opinions. Communicating with others can really stretch your creative potential. Above all, be open-minded.

4) CHOOSE YOUR CREATIVE STATE

You have to be aware of your state to tap into your creativity. You are only going to be creative if you allow yourself to be in a positive and upbeat state.

Sometimes you’re just not going to be in the right place to be really creative. For example, you may have other more personal issues on your mind. Or you may be feeling unwell or tired.

At our workplace we start each meeting by acknowledging our current state – what we feel aware of in our life at the moment. This creates movement and understanding. We can work together to create a new state of creativity.

Do you feel energised or lethargic, committed or disengaged? What can you do to take yourself back into a creative state? It could be as simple as changing your environment or listening to some beautiful music.

 

5) SEEING THE BIG PICTURE 

Barez Brown refers to the ‘Blue Sky’ picture, which means getting a bigger perspective on your life vision.

At RedZebra we believe strongly in encouraging people to connect with this vision. For us, we call it ‘Purpose’. Firstly, don’t be afraid of exploring your purpose. It may sound big and scary but it’s actually a really positive process of self-discovery. Ask yourself some of these questions:

What impact would you like to make on the world? What makes you feel great about yourself? What are your deepest values? What do you want to be remembered for?

All these questions will remind you what is important to you. See how it affects your creativity.

6) GO VISUAL

This is one of our favourite tips which we use all the time at RedZebra. Capturing your thoughts and ideas in a visual manner will make you think in a new way. Get playful and use a large piece of paper with different coloured pens and post-its when you’re creating ideas.

You can also interpret abstract images, photos and art to gain new thoughts. Try discussing an image with a friend to create interesting insights you may not have thought of.

We also find that it can help you remember things better, which is always useful!

 

7) SEE THINGS THROUGH SOMEONE ELSE’S EYES

Our last top tip is to see an issue through someone else’s eyes. Imagine what someone else you know might do in your situation. You can create a new perspective by doing this which will create new opportunities. This works best when you think of someone you really admire or someone who is different to you in their thinking approach.

You can also do this by picking up the phone and talking to one of your clever friends! People are often flattered when you ask them for advice, so give it a go and break free out of your creative block!

TAP INTO YOUR CREATIVITY TODAY!

We hope these tips help you out. Let us know if you’ve got any more to add to the list in the comments below.

Don’t forget that we offer experiences that will help you tap into your creativity, so please get in touch if you want to make a positive impact on your organisation or community group.

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Our Brazilian Themed Experience

We’ve been busy at RedZebra creating a Brazilian themed experience. Perfect for the World Cup or the Olympics over the next few years!

THE SOUNDS OF BRAZIL

Find out more about our Brazilian themed carnival experience for your workforce…

Our carnival experience for your workforce!

 

We’re upping the ante by putting on an amazing set of Brazilian themed experiences– touring the globe with our workshopsSamba dancers and musicians.

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We can provide a bespoke experience for whatever event you are putting on.

We are experts in engagement and specialise in creating an atmosphere where everyone feels involved.

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Please get in touch with us as office@redzebra.uk.com

 

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Brighton Beats

We took our mixed ability samba band, Unified Rhythm, to the streets of Brighton. 

The whole group were beaming as we were lucky enough to have not one, but two beautiful sunny days performing with the band. (You got it right again Jamie! The official weather man of the band!)

Find out more about our performances and click for more photos….

Our first performance at The Childrens Parade 2014 was brilliant from start to finish. Everyone did amazingly. The crowd lit up as we passed them by.

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The next performance took place later in May at the Downsview Link College open day. Again, you smashed it guys! Well done!

And as if that wasn’t brilliant enough for one day, we continued the fun with another performance at St Anns Well Spring Festival. The crowd even got involved this time and joined in with drums and claps.

Massive thanks to our brilliant conductors Javelle and Millie!

 

If you’re interested in Unified Rhythm or want to volunteer with us, do get in touch by emailing us at [email protected]

 

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