‘An incredibly moving performance,’ plus ‘Really powerful message: very impressed,’ just two responses from within the crowd, watching Into the Light last Saturday in Hull.
Curated by Yorkshire Dance and choreographed by Gary Clarke, the performance of the contemporary dance piece Into the Light, represented 3 weeks of demanding rehearsals, with a cast of 42 participants from Hull and region. These ‘non-dancers’ collaborated with 8 professional dancers, worked with a live band to create commemorate significant milestones in lgbt history, under the banner of LGBT50.
For the crowd the ‘fast-forward version of lgbt history’ was a visual feast of dance, spoken-word and live music, that challenged stereotypical views, of what it means to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. For the participants Into the Light has been a transformational journey, where all manner of challenges, both physical and emotional, have been faced head on.
In previous blogs about Into the Light I have talked about the nature of the commitments that each participant, has had to make to the project and to each other. The ties that have been borne out of the shared experience, are strong, represented by the hundreds of supportive messages between us; the mixed feelings of sheer elation; a sense of pride in our achievement and a sense of sadness, as the project reached its triumphant climax.
Into the Light was performed in a public space, Queen Victoria Square on the monument, during the day while many of the city’s residents were going about their normal Saturday. The deliberate interventionist approach of holding Duckie’s Tea Party in this space, suggests a shift in organisational attitude, a desire for genuine community cohesion and inclusivity, that feeds into the wider support for Pride, both parade and party, I Feel Love the BBC Concert and all the other events during the week of LGBT50.
Going forward the city has an opportunity to reach out in a real way, to the lgbt community, to learn from the experiences of the past few months and create a place that all can feel a little pride in.
Participating in Into the Light, has been a huge learning curve for me, a testing time of facing personal demons and not running away. I have learned that it is only through my participation, rather than my absence, that issues can be brought into the light and resolutions found. It has meant embracing the lgbt community and not seeing myself as an outsider: it has also represented a professional challenge, in terms of writing the text for the show.
When I was first asked to write something of the oft-hidden struggle faced by the community during the fifties, I wasn’t at all sure I could do it. I went away and used the imagery of a later decade, that of the Stonewall riots, as a way-in to the complex subject matter.
During the rehearsal sessions some of the time was given over to group discussion, in order to gain a better understanding, of the everyday experiences and prevailing attitudes of the time. These sessions allowed participants a window into another world, a world that many had little or no idea about, a world that they could then faithfully inhabit in the performance.
Below I have gathered just a few reflections from my new ‘dance family’. This special group of individuals who just a month ago began a journey that would see tears and triumphs and friendships that will last long after the last bloom has withered and died.
‘Into the light group have taught me that it’s okay to be who you are and not everyone will like you for who you are, but that shouldn’t stop you from being you. I have honestly had the best experience with the Into the Light team, it has also taught me that the people that you have known for [just a few] weeks, can mean more to you than people, that have been in your life for years.
Learning from new people, sharing an incredible journey and obtaining a new close-knit family. People comfortable enough to open up and share their stories
We see kind souls, lovely human beings who we class as friends. We will continue to support them and challenge discrimination.
It was a joy and a pleasure to have shared this unique experience with you Uplifting and empowering to hear your words spoken to crowds of hundreds with such grace and generosity and passion