Dance performances on 3 Cornish beaches
‘Thank you so much for the work you have done with the schoolchildren, Alessandra. The pieces the children made are beautiful and powerfully moving. I love that the children explored humanitarian and political issues through their artwork with such sensitivity and empathy. You are a genius. Thank you! ‘
Through its public engagement programme, Shoreline sought not only the Cornwall postcard beauty, but explored the boarders and thresholds that exist in the poverty stricken areas of the country and the issues faced by immigrants in Cornwall where there is little racial diversity.
As Ruth Pethybridge expresses in her ‘Sure Lines? Reflections on dramaturgy in participatory dance and performance’:
‘….bodies on beaches can no longer be thought of neutrally in light of the current migration crisis that forces us to rethink the shoreline as another border. So in addition to drawing material from the environment itself, the rocks, the water, the sand, the stories of family holidays; Birch also sees the shoreline as a metaphor for our deep-seated fears, especially in relation to notions of territory and borders.’
‘In parallel to the making of it, people in Cornwall were invited to share their thoughts on boundaries and coastal locations.’
By visiting schools we were able to develop ideas through a learning and sharing process with children and staff. I found it encouraging to realise how aware the younger generation was on issues of migration and there seemed to be a genuine interest, concern and empathy shown in the discussions that took place in the classroom.
As a result, I decided to make a series of wearable items that we imagined people might have taken with them for protection on their long and often dangerous journey across water. We created shoes, hats, life vests which were decorated with sea creatures and accompanied by wishes of hope and safety. These were installed on the beaches; the hats blowing in the wind and the shoes scattered across the rocks by the tideline.
With this as a background context the professional dancers performed at the water’s edge with the children. The movements were based on challenges to be overcome, working as teams to survive and demonstrating the power of a shared vision and concern for others. As such it remains one of my favourite projects for all that it encompassed from creative qualities to integrity of issues tackled.
DATE: July 2016
CLIENT: SIMON BIRCH CHOREOGRAPHER AND DANCE REPUBLIC 2
Shoreline was first performed as part of SALT 2016 and then again as part of a Pinch of SALT 2017. It has been performed across Cornish beaches at Kynanace Cove, Sennen Cove, Watergate Bay, Praa Sands, Porthmeor Beach St Ives and Bournemouth Beach.
Choreographer Simon Birch worked with a team comprising dancers, a composer, a writer, a marine biologist and myself as visual artist.
Shoreline explored our connection with the sea. Powerfully danced by six professional performers right on the edge of the sea, audiences were completely immersed in the event and may have even got wet feet! The choreography took the dancers into the water, onto the sand and rocks along shorelines, supported by a choir made up of local choral groups and individuals.
‘It is amphibious – danced in the water, as well as on the sand and rocks, to live choral music. It is a metaphor for the storms we all endure, the moments of tranquillity we seek and the borders and boundaries we fear or dare to cross. Shoreline is an ode to the coastline, and all that it means to us.’ Simon Birch