The International Dance Festival Birmingham is a four week dance festival hosted by DanceXchange and Birmingham Hippodrome. The large biennial festival showcases diversity, and exceptional dance from across the globe. All of Birmingham is a Stage is a place making project starting during the 2014 festival which not only intends to continue bringing world class acts to Birmingham, but most importantly desires to “engage communities and hard-to-reach groups through participation projects”.
With this in mind the Birmingham School of Architecture and its Co.Lab students have been challenged to design and manufacture a stage for use by Birmingham Ormiston Academy dance students at the festivals Millennium Point launch in April. Not only will it provide a stage for this high profile event, but along with exhibition materials will be toured around community centres and other venues across the ten districts of Birmingham.
As an introduction to the project we participated in a dance workshop hosted by Luca Silvestrini of Protein Dance and David Massingham of DanceXchange. The workshop held in the practice studios of Birmingham Hippodrome was split in two sections; initially a series of physical dance exercises that challenged our perceptions of what dance is, but also encouraged us to loosen our bodies and minds, allowing us to engage more easily with dance as an art form. Through simple activities we began to learn the basics of the creation of movements and forms within space.
The later part of the workshop involved an exciting opportunity to observe and record a Border Tales rehearsal. This short exercise allowed us to record the movements of professional dancers in a variety of ways; through sketching, photography and videography. Not only did it allow us to create 2D pieces, but also allowed us the opportunity to see the further potential of dance. Borders Tales is a piece of dance theatre created by Luca that pushes the boundaries of what dance can be. The story involves questioning peoples perceptions of nationality, which fits nicely with the objectives of the festival by engaging with a variety of different communities.