In public performances, described as “inspirational” and “mesmerising”, young and older dancers from London’s diverse East End communities, accompanied by a percussionist, drew audiences to two City landmarks. The product of a partnership between ft’work and Shobana Jeyasingh Dance (SJD), for the London Festival of Architecture 2019, they respond to the festival’s theme of ‘boundaries’.
The challenge we set ourselves was to demonstrate the potential of dance to challenge as many boundaries as possible. First Shobana Jeyasingh and ft’work architect Clare Richards explored the intricacies and architecture of the two sites: Guy’s Courtyard at King’s College’s campus in London Bridge, and Aldgate Square in the heart of the City. Shobana and her team then set about reflecting complex physical, social and cultural boundaries through dance, using her internationally-acclaimed creative process.
The amateur dancers – from two Tower Hamlets schools (Oaklands School and Mulberry School) and a community dance project for older people (Green Candle Dance Company) – were helped by company dancers and producers to co-choreograph the two site sensitive dance pieces. The project has resulted in ground-breaking cross-cultural and inter-generational performances. As with many of SJD’s choreographies, they have taken cues and ideas from the complexities of the world around us, thereby stimulating thought and reaction.
For the performers themselves, just taking part in this creative process and then performing in public has overcome important cultural, social and personal barriers. For those who were there to watch and for the London Festival of Architecture, Fluid Boundaries has brought into focus how London’s built environment must respond to and engage with the broadest possible audience if we are to build a more inclusive city.
View the Guy’s Courtyard performance by Mulberry School here (film by Ben Harvey of The Difference Engine)
View the Aldgate Square performance by Oakland School and Green Candle Dance company here (film by Ben Harvey of The Difference Engine)