Featured Resource: Radacadabra

RadacadabraDance is the fastest growing art form and the second most popular physical activity for youngsters after football. Although football dominates the media (World Cup finishes, domestic leagues start...), we have chosen to feature a dance-related Resource.

Radacadabra is the Royal Academy of Dance children's website, aimed at ages 7 to 11. As one of the world's leading dance education providers, they help promote knowledge, understanding and the practice of dance internationally. According to Melanie Adams, Director of Marketing, Communications & Membership at the Royal Academy of Dance, the site's aim is 'to provide an interactive and fun educational resource for all young children, teachers and parents interested in ballet and dance.'

Dress the DancerA great deal of effort is put into making all visitors feel included. On arrival, you are issued with a customised 'Backstage Pass'. You can then 'pick a friend' from the Radacadabra team to accompany you through the site. The engaging, user-friendly layout includes the Stage, the Dance Studio and the Dressing Room to explore. Behind the Scenes, users can play games and share jokes. (What do you get when you cross a dance teacher and a maths teacher? Lots of exams.)

The Tour Bus section contains Jasmine and Jake's travel journal about their performances and experiences all over the world. Children can read, for instance, about the Kathakali in South India and the Dragon Dance in China, as well as leave comments and questions for the pair to answer.

The Dance StudioIn addition, members of the team are on hand to answer questions and provide advice on anything from exam preparation to dealing with stage fright. There are also full details of UK courses, interesting facts about dance and a glossary in the Dance Studio. Other features include a virtual stage, a range of musical instruments to 'play' and the opportunity to submit reviews and artwork.

The site, launched initially in 2002, was re-launched in 2007 'with a range of new features and characters, appropriate for today's young people.' Typical characters include Polly, a 9-year-old Greek ballet dancer, along with choreographer Zhu-ting and touring dancers Jake and Jasmine. Melanie recognises this as a contribution to the site's success. 'The characters have proven to be very popular and as a result every month we receive postcards and questions from dance students all over the world.'

It is estimated that around two thirds of Radacadabra's users come from the UK, Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand. However, there are also a significant number of young people accessing the site from countries such as Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines and Germany, giving Radacadabra a truly international feel.

The Tour Bus'It is encouraging to see so many young people using and enjoying this tool, particularly as they now generate so much of its content,' says Melanie. There are also plans to build on the interactive element of the website: 'Our characters will have their own Twitter accounts soon!'

With all it has to offer, Radacadabra provides a stimulating educational environment, inspiring young people all over the world to develop their passion for dance.

Jessica Aitchison
Runnymede Trust
copyright © Runnymede Trust and individual authors.