FAMILY

Dad Dancing // Rosie Heafford, Alexandrina Hemsley and Helena Webb

Over the past month or so, choreographers Rosie Heafford, Helena Webb and I have been working with a supporting cast of people local to Gloucester on our show Dad Dancing (2012 onwards). It is a show that came about when our three dads would come to see our dance performances at Laban back in 2009, completely befuddled by what we were up to. It has grown into a show that reflects on the role of fatherhood - acknowledging the diversity within these roles and how they are taken up. We work with dads, father-figures and children of any age to tease out tender portraits of what’s at stake between and within these relationships.

It’s a project whose emotional weight strikes me at different points. Composing from the external vantage point of choreographers to sharing the lived experiences and dynamics of our own father-child relationships is very affecting. More and more, I think that the show asks for resilience and vulnerability to be intertwined particularly for the supporting cast. It is an ask that we as a creative team nurture as best we can. Our process spends time dancing altogether with the  simple but dedicated task of listening to the textures found within music and our internal rhythms. Our hope is that engaging in these acts of improvisation reveals the joy of movement, the space dancing offers to process emotion and an ever-changing sense of togetherness that can be evoked as a group. 

On stage, I had a sense of collective building, revealing and witnessing. Resting post-show now, I am reflecting on how important these three actions are when considering relationships between parents and their children, more nuanced understandings of parenting roles that undo gendered inequality and the need for society and governments to better understand the diversity of father roles and re-shape policies that represent and support this. 

- Alexandrina Hemsley

 

Links Relevant to this diagnosis:

Dad Dancing at Strike A Light 2018

dad-dancing.org 

Putting Dads in the Data - Fatherhood Institute

Paternity Rights - Guardian

HOUSE AND AMONGST THE REEDS / Clean Break

HOUSE AND AMONGST THE REEDS / Clean Break

House is a play about a reunion in a British Nigerian family. Two sisters and their mother gather to mark a birthday – but it quickly becomes apparent that problems from the past, including mental health issues, mean any celebrations are premature. 

IT FOLDS / Junk Ensemble & Brokentalkers

IT FOLDS / Junk Ensemble & Brokentalkers

At first, It Folds feels baffling, a blur whose beauty defies close analysis. It blurs the boundaries between life and death, making the ghosts of murdered children walk among their grieving families. It blurs the lines between truth and fiction, drawing on real-life stories of child abduction but muddying their details until they become universal. And most of all, it blurs the categories we place performance into. Its large cast mix dance, physical theatre, matter-of-fact monologues and disconcerting wit into a piece that creates a incense-heady atmosphere of its own.

FASLANE / Jenna Watt in Association with Showroom and Contact

FASLANE / Jenna Watt in Association with Showroom and Contact

Nuclear weaponry is a family business, for Jenna Watt. It’s an unlikely one, admittedly, that irradiates its members as well as enriching them. But they’re mostly contented employees of Faslane naval base (officially known as HMNB Clyde), the Scottish home of Operation Trident.

SWEET CHILD OF MINE / Bron Batten

SWEET CHILD OF MINE / Bron Batten

While Bron Batten’s performance of Sweet Child of Mine (seemingly) did not seek to directly explore ideas of ageing and care; making the piece with her father led to an additional layer of performance gently weaving itself in. In this piece, the lines between Bron’s relationship to her parents on and off stage begin to blur.

THE TALK / Mish Grigor

THE TALK / Mish Grigor

It's a basic fact of parenting that children grow up to do things you might personally find regrettable: contract sexual diseases, for instance, or make theatre, or worse, make theatre about contracting sexual diseases. Mish Grigor's parents have approved a version of her text for The Talk but not, she twinkles, this one. And