This May, we’re incredibly proud to announce our largest educational venture to date, in which we will work with over 100 young people, age 13 and 14, in our home.
The Co-op Academies Trust project sees us take Witness, our theatre production, which turns the spotlight on mental health, into three Co-op Academy Schools across the city – Manchester Creative Media Academy, The Co-operative Academy of Manchester and Failsworth School.
The innovative three-month project kicks off with a day of activity on Weds 24 May, which includes an exclusive performance of Witness This (our new outdoor adaptation of Witness, which travels to UK festivals this summer) followed by creative and high-energy workshops led by Co-Artistic Director Kevin Edward Turner.
The young people will then spend four weeks working on their own dance pieces in response to the performance, workshops and themes of Witness & Witness This. A finale event will take place in July where the three pieces created by the young people will be performed alongside a performance by Company Chameleon.
The project has been spearheaded by Frank Norris, Director of the Co-op Academies Trust, who is also the former primary school head teacher of our Co-Artistic Director, Kevin Edward Turner.
Frank saw Kevin on BBC One’s Going Back, Giving Back in Oct 2016 and following on, contacted the Company to reconnect with his former pupil. A very happy reunion and several planning meetings followed, leading up to the project launch this month.
Speaking about the partnership Frank Norris said: “When we were considering the dance company to work with, we wanted one that would emphasise the accessibility of dance and one that emphasised storytelling from a personal perspective. The Witness piece and its focus on mental health issues for young people fitted really well. A further consideration was how open the dance company were to working with us rather than just doing what they wanted. Company Chameleon came up trumps on all counts”.
The project provides a fantastic opportunity for Chameleon to reach out to young people, providing creative and new perspectives on mental health through dance.
Our Learning & Participation Officer Natalie says, “We’re really excited about working with the Co-Operative Academies to take our newest work Witness This to year 8 pupils and their families. We hope that the experience of seeing the work, and exploring the difficult subject of mental health through dance and movement, will go some way in raising awareness and de-stigmatising the issue. By using dance theatre in a lively and interactive way, the project will firstly be fun(!), but secondly have the potential to spark discussion about the importance of looking after your mental health just as much as your physical health”.
The Witness dance project with The Co-op Academies Trust is being documented by filmmaker Ben Williams, keep an eye out for the film on our web-site in July.
Dance development and education is an integral part of what we do at Chameleon, with dance classes and workshops taking place in tandem with our core touring performance programme. If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact email@example.com.
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Thank you to everyone who comes to watch us perform and for all your wonderful comments and feedback!