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Men and Girls Dance - a guest blog by Jackie Blackwell

The men and girls were already on stage when we sat down.  They were on their hands and knees sticking newspaper pages together with tape.  Newspapers formed the backdrop and more of it was scrunched up on the floor, and the performance began.

It didn't start with any music, instead two men sat while some newspaper was wrapped round their heads and a previously invisible newspaper man rolled on the stage from within the scrunched paper at the back. Not sure what was happening but I was intrigued.  The girls and the men at first separate across the stage, slowly they moved in closer, mirroring their movements either side of the large taped together squares of news. It triggered memories of Simon Says I used to play as a kid, and when they picked up the edges of the paper and billowed it above their heads, it was like the parachute game played loads of times at school with my own daughter when she was a similar age to the girls.

 When they dropped the paper, I hadn't noticed the man who stayed underneath it.  He moved towards the girls like a monster, as they ran from him screaming as he surged towards them. It felt playful and I could feel myself smiling and then laughing as he swooped towards them.  One of the girls bravely threw herself on the covered man, and she partly disappeared, then tearing through the paper, she was held up high in his arms, so beautifully, so tenderly it brought a lump to my throat.  And from that point onwards I was engrossed.  

It felt this was the turning point in the dance, and from it we were led through a beautiful trusting, loving and moving performance of movement, words and music.  The relationships and dance between the girls and men felt honest and respectful, playful and powerful, moving and funny.  The soundtrack from Velvet Underground then Nina Simone was fantastic and the dancing to the final track, Great DJ by the Ting Tings felt a truly lovely, strengthening and joyful experience. I didn't even notice that it was men and girls dancing together anymore.  

We both left the performance feeling uplifted and joyful too. 

Images by Benedict Johnson


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