Rural Dance Goes Digital with Share a Show Initiative

23 Sep 2020

Ipswich, UK. 15.02.2014. Luca Silvestrini’s PROTEIN present BORDER TALES at Dance East, Jerwood DanceHouse. Picture shows: YuYu Rau being thrown by Femi Oyewole, Stephen Moynihan, Kenny Wing Tao Ho, Stuart Waters, Eryck Brahmania and Salah el Brogy. Photograph © Jane Hobson.

This autumn, the Rural Touring Dance Initiative (RTDI) is going digital, with a series of online events that launches today with a brand new commission from Lost Dog, a season of filmed dance shows and Q&As, and a special digital taster of Scottish Dance Theatre’s Antigone, Interrupted. Hosted in partnership with rural touring schemes around the country, the shows will be available to stream on dates between 23 September and November.

Kicking off the season is the award-winning Lost Dog’s brand new short film, In a Nutshell, commissioned by the RTDI and The Place. Originally conceived in the early days of the pandemic, this single-shot short film envisages a world in which theatres will never open again. With his unique blend of melancholia and self-deprecating humour, Lost Dog’s Ben Duke touches on themes of loneliness and isolation, the loss of human connections, and in particular the temporary community of strangers that make up a theatre audience.

To follow, Luca Silvestrini’s Protein will present their ever-popular Border Tales, first performed in 2013 and since performed all over the world from the Edinburgh Fringe to Ramallah, Palestine. Told via a mix of dance, live music and dialogue compiled from the performers’ personal experiences, this punchy yet poignant commentary on multicultural Britain seen through the eyes of an international cast gazes satirically on stereotypical thinking and migrant outsiders.

Hair – worn long, worn short, worn wavy or in braids – is the subject of the season’s next show -The Head Wrap Diaries by Uchenna Dance. Set in a hair salon, the show explores people and their ongoing relationship with hair. Blending club styles House, Waacking, and Vogue with African and Contemporary Dance, with a good dose of humour and a sizzling soundtrack, The Head Wrap Diaries explores femininity, beauty, culture, sisterhood and of course hair.

Fusing physical theatre, hip hop dance and spoken word, Lanre Malaolu’s Elephant in The Room is an explosive solo that explores the mental health crisis and the phenomenon of toxic masculinity.  The show looks at the insidious stigma around mental health issues, asking how race, class and culture can affect the way we choose to address them. And what happens when we don’t.

And closing the season,Scottish Dance Theatre’s Introducing… Antigone, Interruptedis an online event combining footage from the company’s original stage production, scenes reimagined for the digital medium and a real time meet-the-artist conversation. The event will give audiences an opportunity to “meet the characters” and hear from choreographer Joan Clevillé and dancer Solène Weinachter, before they take the physical show back out on the road to RTDI venues in 2021.

Speaking about the digital season, Claire Smith, Project Manager of the RTDI said: “We are very excited about engaging audiences through sharing these dance shows for people to watch at home and then offering the added treat of being able to speak to the fabulous choreographers that created them. Doing this either in a national forum or in a smaller local conversation more akin to a post-show chat you might have with an artist in a village hall seems a great way of keeping in touch with audiences .”

The RTDI is a partnership between the National Rural Touring Forum, The Place, China Plate and Take Art.

In 2015 The National Rural Touring Forum joined forces with The Place, China Plate and Take Art to launch a brand-new initiative designed to assist in the making and touring of contemporary accessible dance to rural areas. The project was set up to address the paucity of dance performance happening in rural areas in smaller community venues.  The project has been made possible by a grant from Arts Council England’s Lottery funded Strategic Touring Programme. Due to RTDI successes in November 2017 the project was given a further £417k to develop the project until July 2021. Over 160 performances have taken place to date along with numerous workshops and training opportunities for artists.

The Rural Touring Dance Initiative is a partnership project led by The National Rural Touring Forum with The Place, China Plate and Take Art. The project is funded by Arts Council England through its Strategic Touring Fund.

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Image: The Head Wrap Diaries