Inspiration…Dance that does more!

An exciting part of The Princess Alice project is the engagement with the local community. We are really excited to be inviting participants to join us in the studio. Working in this way has been a dream of mine for some time and I am delighted to finally be using dance to empower others. In this weeks blog post, I would like to highlight some of the fantastic companies, projects and artists who continually inspire my practice and The Princess Alice project…

Back in 2006 I watched a Channel 4 documentary called ‘Ballet Hoo: Ballet Changed My Life’. The documentary followed a group of disadvantaged young people as they trained to join Birmingham Royal Ballet on stage in Romeo and Juliet. I remember watching it with my mum (we both ended up in tears) and it had a profound affect on me. It was the first time I had seen dance used as a tool for social change and inspired me to make this part of my future. Have a look at this short documentary and check out this article to find out what the young people did next.

When I graduated from training, I had the pleasure of working on an intergenerational dance project called The Little Witch. The project was choreographed and directed by Marie Forbes and Sophie Nüzel and involved a range of people form different backgrounds. I worked as a dancer on the project throughout the research and development and finally in the full production at The Place. The Little Witch project invited a range of participants into the work as part of the research and development as well as the full production. It was amazing to see participants find their own creative voice and grow in confidence. The result was a truly magical. sensory dance theatre experience.

Last year I had the pleasure of working with Urban Playground Team as a project manager on a section of their tour. Their current work STEAM has been touring the UK and has recently toured India. In each location they visit they recruit a group of participants to perform alongside them in the choreography. Their ethos focuses on using performance parkour to empower young people. When I worked with them I was inspired by their dedication to using their craft to inspire change in areas of low artistic engagement.

A company that is very close to my heart is Loop Dance Company. They inspired me as a young dancer and I now work for the company. Their ethos is simple…”Do what makes you heart sing”. Loop engages communities in each new piece they develop and also offers an extensive outreach program. Here is a short documentary about the company’s latest work which engaged the local residents of Margate.

I am also continually inspired by a range of other companies and also visual artists who engage communities in their work…

– Breakdance Project Uganda use hip hop and breakdance to empower disadvantaged youths in Kampala, Uganda. In the face of many challenges, their work makes a huge difference to the communities they engage.

– Visual artist and activist, Ai Wei Wei, uses his work to comment on social issues and uncover people’s stories.

– Visual artist, Greyson Perry, creates work inspired directly by the communities he engages with. He often creates flamboyant and embelished work reflecting the everyday stories of ordinary people. Check out some of his documentary films on Chanel 4

I have listed just a handful of artists who have inspired me, there are of course many more. Which artists have inspired you?