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Classes give focus to festival

A series of workshops and education events will help to make the Edinburgh International Festival more accessible to hundreds of children, giving them an insight into the arts.

The Pennsylvania Ballet, based in Philadelphia, opens this year's dance programme with Christopher Wheeldon's Swan Lake. Members of the company's specialist education team will visit Edinburgh primary schools to work with 10-and 11-year-olds. The workshops, being held from August 17-26, will help pupils from 10 primaries to understand the plot, choreography and resonance of Swan Lake in preparation for seeing it performed during the festival.

A photography and poetry project, Home to Home, will explore notions of self and identity in the home with secondary pupils.

The series of three workshops led by poet Maggie Gibson, visual artist Alex Hetherington and project leader Jan McTaggart will culminate in an exhibition in Cafe Hub as part of the Royal Bank at The Hub programme.

McTaggart, Hetherington and Gibson visited Wester Hailes Education Centre, the Royal High and Drummond High, exploring what home means to 14-and 15-year-olds with contrasting value systems and varying sources of inspiration.

Pupils took photographs of their homes, building a subjective picture of domestic life. Some focused on their immediate family and neighbourhood, while others concentrated on items associated with socialising and friendships.

Pupils who took part in the project also wrote poems about home life, ranging from rhymes about the comfort and safety of home and friendship, to the weather, streetlights in the dark and even tartan tammies.

A selection of the pictures and poems are on display at The Hub, running on after the festival into the autumn.

"It is part of a theme running through the EIF this year: home, identity, exploring cultural minorities' lives in Britain," explains an EIF spokeswoman.

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