The Princess Alice project see’s DFDC embarking upon their first full scale project. The Research and Development stage of the project commenced in January 2017 and was funded by Arts Council England Grants for the Arts and the Royal Borough of Greenwich Community Art Fund.
The Princess Alice was a Victorian paddle steamer running day cruises from London to Sheerness. On it’s return to London on the evening of the 3rd September 1878, The Princess Alice collided with another much larger vessel causing her to sink within minutes, not far from Woolwich Pier. Nearly 700 people lost their lives in the disaster and the small community of Woolwich found itself thrust into the heart of this tragic disaster. The local community pulled together to offer support to those who were affected.
The research and development began with 6 weeks of studio based research with the dancers from DFDC. This was a fantastic opportunity to immerse ourselves in experimenting with the narrative and characters. On 1st February we had our first work-in-progress sharing. We held a post-show discussion afterwards and received some really interesting and useful feedback.
We then took out research ideas into the next stage of the project. DFDC worked in partnership with Greenwich Dance to deliver 5 workshops aimed at families. Across 5 weeks, the families created their own response to The Princess Alice narrative, which they performed at a sharing during the final workshop.
“It has also been wonderful to see the sensitivity with which the family group interacted under the positive guidance of Daisy and her dancers”- Family Project Participant
In April DFDC worked in partnership with the National Maritime Museum to run a two-week intensive aimed at Young People age 15-18. The aim was to empower the Young People to develop their own responses to The Princess Alice narrative. Their ideas were then incorporated into the choreographic structure alongside the professional dancers. The project culminated in performances at the National Maritime Museum and in Woolwich as part of Tall Ships Festival.
“This [sic] confidence, teamwork and performance skills gained will help me with future dance projects and projects in general”- Participant in Young People’s Intensive
DFDC were delighted to be working with a team of outstanding collaborators during The Princess Alice Research and Development Project. We collaborated with composer Portia Graves, who created a beautifully atmospheric score for the research project. We also worked with Nicola Flower who created a stunning piece of 3D art work which participants contributed to throughout the project. Her finished work was displayed at the National Maritime during the performance day. DFDC also welcomed a new collaborator, dramaturg Lou Cope, who has been working with us to explore how we can develop a narrative using dance and physical theatre.
DFDC have had the pleasure of being supported by Greenwich Dance and the National Maritime Museum, both of whom were key partners in The Princess Alice Research and Development project. Both organisations played an important role in the planning and delivery of the project and we are honoured to have worked with such established local organisations. Other project partners include, Greenwich West Community Centre, who kindly offered discounted studio space in support of the project, and also Greenwich Heritage Centre, who shared their expertise through workshops with the project participants.