"IT HAS BEEN A GLORIOUS year I can feel it in my fingers my ears" - The Moulettes
A song that will now be forever ingrained in my head as an amazing memory from one of the most inclusive pieces I've ever taken part in.
This year has been a eventful one, with opportunities that I've been humbled to be offered and participate in, collaborations and RnDs and performances alike.
The most recent being Stopgap's Seafarers. The opportunity to perform on the same stage in the same programme was mind boggling! This company are in my opinion are among the titans of the inclusive dance practice world, with beautiful and pristine choreography and direction - so who wouldn't get a little star struck and intimidated but in an aspirational way - I have to say my jaw dropped and my tongue rolled out when I saw them last at Sadlers Wells Equation Dance- with just an extract from Artificial things - I watched in black and white backstage and was filled with a sense of awe as I watched the effortlessness in their movement and chemistry between each other. That was just watching them!
Having spoken to them after and sharing a stage with them, I got an invitation to join them on the Seafarers project - an inclusive integrated community site specific piece led by Stopgap in collaboration with The Moulettes to be performed at Portsmouth Historical Dockyard.
"If you're available/interested we'd love to have you..."
*Jaw Drops... Huge smile*
Even if I was just helping out, picking up a stick I'd be there!!
Going to Stopgap's Springlab, for just the one day (which kind of sucked on my part due to other commitments) creation and ideas started to be introduced, meeting the company seeing familiar faces - it was a shame I had missed the 2 days beforehand - it felt like a bond had been made and I slightly missed out on. That's what happens when you don't turn up! #Doi
Then an intensive week of material absorption on my part, thrown in to learn from the professional company all the set material and create new material. What a lovely bunch of people!! So inviting, considerate, accommodating and incredibly patient with me as I fumbled around the studio trying to pick stuff up!!
Journeys to PATS (University of Surrey), Farnham Maltings and Weydon Christian Centre always met with episodes of Friends in the background or #iPodOnShuffle, windows down singing my lungs out!
Always at some point my curse/bad omen regarding lifts! Whether it's at home, work or leisurely they seem to break around me! We deal with it and have fun outside! Picking up into the summer it wasn't too bad being outside apart from the obvious uneven ground and mucky hands but hey ho - occupational hazard when doing site specific outdoor performances! #KeepCalmAndCarryOn
I only visited and met Abstract Arts Dance and performing group once or twice before production week - but man what a spritely bunch they were! Ranging in different shapes, sizes with one thing in common - dance. Loved watching Stopgaps Siobhan, Lucy, David and Tom work with them and the material being taught. Such a great atmosphere they create and the bonds and memory retention of people's names and quirks!
In a section called timbers, Abstract use wooden timbers to dance with and the sound they make on the floor with the music in the background and choreography was awesome!
Then to production week, costumes and Portsmouth. So very fortunate that the weather was kind to us! (So kind in fact, on the Thursday I got a quite noticeable tan!)
It was really nice to hang out with the company, if was just having dinner after a long day and chatting or in our spare time before the shows seeing a little bit of Portsmouth.
Managed to see the Spinnaker Tower (As some of the Abstract dancers had raved on to me about) - quite a funny experience - I was met with several piercing questions about my ability to walk... The first being:
"In the event of an evacuation, are you able to climb 560 stairs?"
My first reaction was like, erm I'm in a wheelchair and secondly, who could? Anyways after that I had paid and clumsily dropped my wallet, and as people helped to collect stray coins, an elderly gentleman picked up a coin (can't remember the denomination) and just walked off! Which I thought was quite funny/shocking - it was quite obvious I had dropped it but hey ho!
Then to go up in the lift to see the view, as a few of us came in an evacuation chair followed. Quite a daunting thought, if that wasn't already set up but also the precaution that is quite intimidating.
Well it was beautiful looking out to Portsmouth Harbour and a shame I could go to the top as it was only accessible by stairs. Got some lovely photos of "daring to try" walking across the 2 x2 m glass pane looking down at the sea from quite a height. I quite enjoyed it! Hardly scary at all
The performances were so good, fun and enjoyable to participate in and with a backdrop of The Moulletes soundtrack live - it was an amazing experience, being on a set with ramps (which seemed huge in the studio but tiny in comparison to the HMS victory!)
No performance is complete without falling out of the chair of a wheelchair vs body part situation - and Friday did not disappoint! Both the Laura's (Jones and Dajao) went flying! Shame it wasn't choreographed! Drop and roll... All it takes to recover xD
Such a great couple of months working towards Seafarers it seemed almost anticlimactic that there were only two performances. it's totally got the potential to tour other seafronts and dockyards across the UK - that's just because I'd love to perform it again!
Unforgettable choreography, a killer soundtrack and the most lovely people - it was truly an honour and pleasure to have danced/worked with Stopgap - Lucy, Siobhan, David, LJ (Laura Jones), Tomos, Kat Ball and Helen. which all couldn't have been possible without the support of the office team and administrative team, producer Callum and all the volunteers that assisted in the make up And break down of the set and management of the community groups.
Hopefully I get to work with you again! Truly inspiring work and I'm privileged to have taken part in.
Just a couple of memories from a project I was so privileged to be part of! An Amazing Company, super nice people, incredibly inclusive and an innovative idea!
Check the full video of the performance:
Just some fun memories: