Monday, 29 September 2014

Inclusive Dance Journey

Stuck in the Mud
GDance and Ballet Cymru
With Hijinx Theatre Academy and Sherman Cymru INC Youth Theatre
Wales Millennium Centre
28th September 2014

What a joy! Dance is often seen as an exclusive and elitist art form but Stuck in the Mud proves that dance and movement is for everyone, regardless of ability or physical restrictions.

The promenade dance journey started outside the foyer of the Wales Millennium Centre and toured through the ground floor of the building, including the outdoor spaces, concluding in a full cast spectacle on the Glanfa stage. Inspired by the joy of children’s games the piece celebrated each performer’s unique body and allowed them to, sometimes literally, throw off the labels they can sometimes feel restricted by.

Internationally renowned disabled choreographer Marc Brew directed the piece, which was also showcased in Swansea and Llandudno earlier in the year. The fully accessible promenade piece had to be adapted to each unique location and featured the talents of different local community groups in each city.

The incredibly talented professional dancers, from Ballet Cymru and GDance, proved that physical disability should not limit anyone. Proving their many talents the group performed beautiful ballet alongside more modern techniques. Some of the most impressive sections of the journey were performed by disabled dancer Alice Sheppard in her wheelchair. Her physical strength and commanding stage presence are awe inspiring and she is an absolute pleasure to watch – as are the whole company.

In Cardiff the professional dancers were joined by community groups from Hijinx Theatre Academy and the Sherman Cymru INC Youth Theatre. Hijinx provide the only professional actor training for performers with learning disabilities in Wales and INC is Sherman Cymru’s new inclusive youth group. The sections performed by the community groups were absolutely charming and showcased the group’s sense of humour and fun, whilst proving that they are very talented performers worthy of such an impressive location and a large crowd.

The whole performance was enhanced by an exciting original score composed by Jack White that featured live French Horn accompaniment from Tom Taffinder. The music helped to link each separate part of the performance creating one big mood of celebration and I for one was smiling from start to finish.

It was clear that the free performance attracted a crowd both of dance lovers and those who have never seen dance before. As the piece moved from location to location it was great to see people who had accidentally experienced one section join the crowd to see the rest of the piece. Hopefully it has inspired more people to watch dance or even take it up themselves. As novelist Vicki Baum said ‘there are shortcuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.’

For more on GDance and their inclusive practice click here.

Ballet Cymru’s website is currently under construction but for more contact details follow this link.

And here are links to the wonderful work of Hijinx and INC youth theatre.

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