So on Wednesday 4th and Thursday 5th May One Amongst Millions was performed in front of audiences at the RJC Dance studio and the University of Leeds.
After both performances question and answer sessions were held with the audience, allowing them to ask any questions they had and share their thoughts and opinions. It was very encouraging to hear such positive feedback from the audience members and many were moved by the emotion of the piece.
Overall, the experience has been successful in bringing the emotional and important issue of the Holocaust to the surface and interpreting these emotions into dance movement.
The link with the university and performing and rehearsing there has also ensured that the young people have an idea of what university is like and perhaps may be more interested in looking into university education.
The project has been a worthwhile experience for all involved and the Shahck Out Youth Dance group look forward to showcasing the performance again at the RJC Dance studios on Wednesday 18th May.
Performances are starting tomorrow! Shahck Out Youth Dance will be performing at the RJC Dance studio at the Mandela Centre in Chapeltown, Leeds tomorrow, Wednesday 4th May at 6pm. They will also perform at Workshop Theatre, University of Leeds at 4:30pm on Thursday 5th May.
On Saturday we had our dress rehearsal and it was great to see everything coming together.
After the Easter break, rehearsals are back into full swing. The script is written, the dance moves are all coming together and we have performance dates!
The piece will be performed on Wednesday 4th May at the home of RJC Dance, in the Mandela centre in Chapeltown, Leeds. It will also be performed in Workshop Theatre at the University of Leeds on Thursday 5th May. We hope to see many people there!
Rehearsals are in full swing and director Anthony is continuing to develop set ideas for the stage. The idea is to be as simplistic as possible in terms of props whilst still helping the audience to imagine the events that inspired the dance piece. Below is an idea of how the very beginning of the performance will look.
Through the YouTube link you can also see a sneak peak of Dance Two: The Star.
Laura and I have also continued to interview the dancers about the project as part of their Arts Award.
This interview is with Teagan, 13 and Kiera, 14.
How long have you been dancing?
Teagan: Since I was about 2.
Kiera: I’ve been dancing for about 6 years.
When did you join RJC Dance?
Teagan: November 2015.
Kiera: In the summer.
How did you find out about this project?
Kiera: Kathy told us.
Now you’re getting into the project, what do you find most interesting?
Teagan: I’m able to take peoples’ stories and dig a little bit deeper into them and find out their meaning.
Kiera: I like making dances out of the stories.
What are you most looking forward to in this project?
Teagan: I like taking a story and putting it into dance, that’s something I’ve never really done before, it’s always been the other way round. So thinking about a story and how to portray that instead of making choreography and then thinking up a story after.
Kiera: I’m excited to make the dance and put it all together to see the final product.
What do you find most difficult about the project?
Kiera: I’d say making a dance up from the story is hard because you have to link them both.
Teagan: Yeah, it’s hard to link the dances together and think about them because they’re based on such a big event.
It has been an exciting few weeks at RJC Dance as the project has continued to develop. Anthony recently shared his newly written script with the group which gave everyone a clear view on where the performance is headed. The script combines the key themes from Holocaust stories which the dancers have been working on in the past few weeks, such as the star and the icicle, which you can read about in previous posts.
The dancers have also been partaking in interviews with performance intern Laura Wichmann and myself for their Arts Award where young people can receive an award by creating a portfolio about their art form, which in this case is dance.
The first interviews were Ry’shawn, 15, who attends Carr Manor Community School, and Qumar, 14, who attends Roundhay School.
How long have you been dancing? Ry’shawn: This is my third year, now.
Quamar: This is my fifth year.
When did you join RJC Dance? Ry’shawn: I went to the Saturday club, that’s below this group, and this is my second year.
Quamar: I went to the Junior’s club, which is two groups below this, and that would have been 2011 when I started.
How did you find out about this project? Ry’shawn: Nillanthie, our dance teacher, told us about it
What interested you when you first heard about the project? Ry’shawn: It has a meaning behind it.
Quamar: It makes a change as it’s a different style to our type of dance and what we’re used to doing.
Now you’re getting into the project, what do you find most interesting? Ry’shawn: It’s not just dancing, it’s drama as well so you’re acting it out whilst dancing at the same time.
Quamar: You’re dancing about something that’s actually happened in the past.
What are you most looking forward to in this project? Ry’shawn: I’m looking forward to performing and seeing what the end finish is going to be.
Quamar: I want to see the change in people’s faces and see how people react to certain parts of the dances.
What do you find most difficult about the project? Ry’shawn: I’m a visual learner and Anthony tends to read his ideas out. So sometimes I’m not able to connect as much and would prefer to see more pictures.
Quamar: I find the project hard and easy at the same time because I have the dancing side but I don’t really do much drama, so the combination of acting and drama can be difficult.
Over the last couple of weeks the dancers have been continuing to interpret events and experiences from the Holocaust into movement. Anthony has a collection of stories from those who witnessed the atrocity which he uses as inspiration. For example, as a thinking activity, Anthony introduced the idea of a doctor who had to turn away a sick Jewish child as it was illegal to treat him. The dancers were encouraged to see this from his perspective and understand his position.
The dancers then continued with an activity from last week where the mother must keep a yellow star on her child at all times. However this time, the idea of a spectator was introduced, someone watching from the outside who may have been a threat. The dancers and choreographer Nilanthie Morton worked with the ideas of danger and protection as well as reacting to their situation.
The final activity involves one of Anthony’s stories, where a prisoner in a camp is prevented from reaching for an icicle by a guard. Props were also introduced for the first time, to help with the idea of imprisonment.
Anthony has also been working with Dave Murray, a musician, to find a piece of music to accompany the dance. The video below shows the dancers practicing with the music.
Anthony hopes to present an outline of the performance in next week’s rehearsal.
Since starting this project a few weeks ago, the dancers have already learnt an incredible amount about the Holocaust, both from an academic point of view and from a real life experience. The process has already begun in incorporating this information and emotions into the medium of dance. Director Anthony is particularly interested in the idea of the yellow star, which was compulsory for Jews to wear on their clothing at all times. He is keen to include this in the dance piece so gave the group an exercise of trying to keep the star on each other whilst moving about the room, like a mother and child. The combination of playfulness and seriousness of such an action was particularly interesting.
The group had also been working on solo pieces based on what they had taken from Iby’s story. Actions such as sewing the yellow star onto clothing, putting on the striped uniform, and hiding or running away were put into dance moves, which proved incredibly effective. The emotions that were so poignant in Iby’s story – fear, anger, tiredness – can be clearly seen in the video below.
In order to further the dancers’ understanding of the impact the Holocaust had on people’s lives, Holocaust survivor Iby Knill was invited to visit the group and share her personal experiences with them.
Iby is an Auschwitz survivor yet kept her story to herself until she was 70. She has since written a book about her experiences. Iby was a Jewish girl living in Slovakia when the Nazis came to power. She told the group how she had fled to Hungary to escape persecution from Einsatzgruppen and stayed with numerous family friends, hiding from the ever-growing Nazi regime. One of these friends was involved in an underground movement of transporting British airmen and Iby was arrested for her involvement in this. She was sent to Auschwitz yet labelled as a political prisoner. Iby stressed how being labelled as a political prisoner saved her life as it took away the attention from her Jewish background. She also noted how she remembers certain aspects of her experience: for example being counted eight times a day. She commented how this could not be a valid count and was most probably used as a way of enforcing control. Iby was moved to Lippstadt a month after arriving in Auschwitz and was rescued by the British on the journey. She eventually returned home in August 1946 where she married and then moved to England a year later.
Iby advised to visit Auschwitz if given the chance and called it a Godforsaken place. She then shared a number of personal photos ranging from her childhood and family to her family grave and memorials from the holocaust. When asked about how she felt during her experience, Iby explained that she was more angry at the injustice than scared. Her key message to the group was that people’s differences should be respected and should not determine how they should be treated.
Iby’s story helped the group to empathise with her experiences and understand to some extent how it would have felt to go through such an ordeal. They will look to build on these feelings and emotions and portray them through their dance piece.