Finding the Glory in diversity

bodies moving in harmony in a rehearsalHow do you make professional work with real people not trained performers?

How do you craft performance for a paying audience when you can’t simply use technique to dazzle them?

How do you draw attention to the beauty in the ordinary, and make us marvel at the very variety contained within the human species?

I don’t know, but I know a woman who does. Continue reading

Witnessing a Private Party

a blurry pic of lots of people at a party dancing including a wheelchair userOver the past few weeks I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the development Janice Parker’s latest dance piece – Private Party. Conceived as a follow on from Private Dancer, her award-winning Unlimited Commission for 2012, Private Party takes an eclectic group of 12 dancers one step further to open up various notions, rites and rituals associated with the concepts of both ‘private’ and ‘party’.

I use the word ‘witnessing’ with care as it has both a general and a specific meaning within dance. Continue reading

Take off your glasses and really see what are you looking at

a cctv camera pointing at a wall. On the wall, someone has stencilled 'what are you looking at?'I am at the Fifth Social inclusion in the performing arts conference in Barcelona (but V Jornadas para la Inclusión y la educación en las artes escénicas sounds so much better #jornadasinclusion2013).

It’s a gift to be given the opportunity to speak about my thoughts and opinions on re-framing diversity through the arts – and when you have to present ideas for an audience who doesn’t necessarily understand your language (of course there was also translation), it helps you clarify what you mean, crystallise your thinking. Continue reading

People: Not as frightening as you might think

An outline of a gingerbread man/personI’m at the other end of the country this week, running a session on equality and diversity for the Clore Social Leadership Programme. When they sent me the list of attenders through, I nearly fell of my chair as I read – biog after biog of fantastic achievers – people who had started this, run that, gained the other and all of whom had already made immense differences to the lives of those around them.

Frankly, I was scared. Continue reading

Please miss, how can we be more diverse?

A photo of a single melting icebergEarlier this week I was asked for some advice – what do you do when you have a cultural programme or project that works well technically, but which keeps attracting the same ‘kind’ of people. How do you diversify those you reach?

It got me thinking. I reckon it’s a great ambition and yet hard to do properly. To truly embrace those who are ‘different’ we have to be prepared to rip up the rulebook and start again, or we simply widen the funnel minutely and pat ourselves on the back thinking we’ve done enough. Continue reading