Get Creative

Over 60s Get Creative with dance workshop

A group of over 60s enjoyed learning new dance moves at Sadler’s Wells as part of the Get Creative Festival 2018.

Motionhouse Rehearsal Director Junior Cunningham led a free workshop in the theatre’s Rosebery room as part of the nationwide celebration of art and creativity. Thirty people joined him to try out some moves inspired by Charge, the company’s latest production currently showing at The Peacock, Sadler’s Wells’ West End venue. After warming up and contact improvisation exercises, participants learned a dance sequence that was then performed to music. You can watch a clip of them in action here

Motionhouse create and tour a wide range of inspiring and powerful dance-circus productions to theatres and festivals in the UK and across the globe. The company’s distinctive, highly physical style integrates elements of circus and acrobatics with breath-taking dance and digital imagery to surprise and delight audiences.

Originally from Birmingham, Junior was encouraged to study contemporary dance by his sister when he was 17. He joined the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in 1999 and graduated in 2002 with a BPA (Hons) Degree in Contemporary Dance. Soon afterwards, he joined Motionhouse as an apprentice, before becoming a full-time member of the company the following year. He has since performed in a number of Motionhouse productions, including Broken and Scattered, which we presented at The Peacock in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Sadler’s Wells also presented a performance of Motionhouse’s Captive – a blend of dance, acrobatics and aerial work set inside a large cage – as part of the Big Lunch in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in June 2016. The family-friendly day attracted over 8,000 people.

Taking place between 17 and 25 March, the Get Creative Festival encourages people to try their hand at something new and creative. The annual festival is a merger of the previous Get Creative Weekend and Voluntary Arts Festival – now joined together to make one huge nationwide event.

Get Creative Festival is brought to you by arts and creative organisations and individuals across the UK and is supported by 64 Million Artists, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, the BBC, Crafts Council, Creative People and Places, Creative Scotland, Family Arts Campaign, Fun Palaces, Voluntary Arts, and the What Next? movement.


National Youth Dance Company celebrates Get Creative Day at Sadler’s Wells

On 2 April, hundreds of arts and cultural organisations in the UK marked Get Creative Day. Part of the BBC’s Get Creative campaign, the event celebrated and encouraged participation in arts, culture and creativity across the country. At Sadler’s Wells, National Youth Dance Company members invited people to join them in the foyer for a group improvisation. Audiences, many of them children and young people, danced along or simply travelled with the dancers as they performed throughout the building. A measure of the success of the day was the transition of some visitors from shy spectators to enthusiastic participants – from entering the building, in the space of less than half an hour they were jumping, crawling, clapping and moving with the 40 NYDC dancers.

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The company also offered the public the opportunity to learn a sequence inspired by its new work In – Nocentes, created by leading choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan, which had its world premiere at Sadler’s Wells on 7 April. NYDC is jointly funded by Arts Council England and the Department for Education from the National Lottery and Grant in Aids funds.


Images: National Youth Dance Company dancers lead the group improvisation at Sadler’s Wells.

Sadler’s Wells’ debate highlights benefits of dance

dance shaped their paths and how it can play a hugely beneficial role in society at all levels.

Carlos Acosta expressed his concern over costs associated with dance classes, which cause children of families unable to afford these to miss out on exposure to dance, and the skills of those having real talent not being recognised, nurtured and given the opportunity to thrive. He called on the UK government to provide the support necessary to guarantee access and exposure to dance to every child.

Jonzi D highlighted the ability of dance to unify and empower young people. He cited the invaluable role of hip hop culture in enabling youth to express their personality and emotions, in fostering a sense of community and in alleviating violence and facilitating conflict resolution, as battles serve as a mean to settle disputes.

Seeta Patel emphasised dance’s positive contribution to physical and mental well-being. She said her training in the in the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam had taught her the value of discipline and rigour, qualities needed not just to become a professional dance artist, but to be able to face life’s challenges. She stressed how the wide spectrum of dance styles available for people to enjoy and participate in – particularly in today’s globalised, digital-savvy and multicultural society – means everyone can try different styles and find the one more suited to their needs. She encouraged audiences to engage with dance with an open mind, suggesting performances can be experienced and trigger emotional responses, without necessarily being understood immediately in all their nuances.

Kenneth Tharp echoed Carlos Acosta’s comments in pointing out how schools are often the only vehicle for children from less wealthy backgrounds to encounter the arts and art education, and how dance’s absence as a subject in its own right in schools means some children aren’t able to access it at all. He credited dance with providing individuals with many of the soft skills employers are increasingly seeking in job candidates, particularly self-awareness, confidence and empathy. He noted how dance is intrinsic to human nature, as people interpret body language every day, inferring the feelings, mood and character of others from the way they move.

Pam Zinkin described how she found fulfilment in dancing with the Company of Elders, Sadler’s Wells’ resident over-60s company. She said she felt lucky to have been enjoying the opportunity to learn different dance styles, work with renowned choreographers and perform on theatrical stages in the UK and overseas, as this was not only keeping her active, but also feeding her imagination. From feeling “invisible” as a retired woman, rehearsing and performing with the company would transform her into someone creative, a dancer. She also explained how, by virtue of dancing together for many years, other company members had now become close and cherished friends.

The speakers were joined by a lively audience, who shared their views on dance’s benefits during a stimulating Q&A session following the talk. BBC London’s report on the event is available here

What has dance done for you? Share your story at #bbcgetcreative #whydancematters

Photo: Lucy White