Here’s part 2 of Lucy Bennett’s blog; The Process behind making The Seafarers.
As a choreographer I have been itching to do large-scale community choreography with young people since giving up my community summer school in Brighton. We also knew with so many emerging choreographers in the artistic team – we were ready to take on the challenge. Each senior dance artist was given a role as dance captain and creative learning manager, Siobhan Hayes, stepped up as my assistant choreographer.
There were many highlights throughout the process but two stood out for me. The first was that I could merge Sg2 with Stopgap’s touring team and our young associates. Even I was surprised at how easy this was, the young associates upped their game, Stopgap proved their inclusive skills are thoroughly embedded and Sg2 showed me they were ready to steal the limelight from the touring team!
My second highlight was working with the principle of Abstract Arts, Amber Leigh Mitchell. We had met a long time ago when Amber did work experience with the company. She had always maintained contact with us and has since opened her own dance school in Portsmouth. Abstract Arts is open to all dancers not just non-disabled dancers (we love this) and she is also keen to get involved with our inclusive syllabus IRIS. It was a wonderful chance to catch up, offer support and build a future.
Below are some highlights from our dancers who have been busy in Portsmouth, preparing the choreography on a weekly basis.
“We used the Captains table that Callum brought in to use as a prop for the section ‘The Silence’. We had two separate groups, one to bring in the table and the other to sit on the benches for them to do the sign language phrase. Hannah dances her solo on the table before the Highbury College Students to do their group dance and it is based on contact and partner work. I think that the Highbury students have worked very well and they have certainly achieved new dance skills”.
Chris Pavia who worked with Highbury College
“During the Seafarers project we have been teaching and rehearsing dancers from Abstract Arts. We first met the Artistic Director of Abstract at Stopgap’s Summer School based in The Point, Eastleigh and when she was on placement with us, several years ago. Abstract’s dancers have proven themselves to be dedicated and quick at picking up material for the piece. They’ve been a pleasure to dance with and I’m excited about seeing them collaborate with the whole team for the show”.
David Willdridge who rehearsed Abstract Arts and developed Highbury College
“It was great to be able to make use of my knowledge of sign language for the ‘The Silence’ section of The Seafarers. I enjoyed the challenge of finding the right translations to fit within the rhythm of the lyrics and to properly convey the moving atmosphere of that section. It was great to have the opportunity to spend some time with the Highbury College students working on the important details of hand shapes for the different signs, as it can completely change the meaning of a sign if it is not accurate”.
Laura Jones who created the sign song for Highbury College & Portsmouth Grammar School