Earlier this year, Epic Arts recieved funding from UNICEF to share the message of what people with disabilities can do. They created a video parody of Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funk and are now in the second stage of the project where a performance and workshop will be delivered in community settings around Cambodia. These are Arts Activity Days; a 5 hour long workshop where participants (who will be with and without disabilities) will learn and create movements to be included in the performance.
Arts Team (the community dance company at Epic, who also have disabilities) will deliver these days themselves as not only are they great dance teachers but this will help show what people with disabilities can do.
I have mentored Arts Team in the creation of the workshop and we collaborated ideas to form choreography that can be adapted to the needs of the participants, as well as being easy to follow, yet aesthetically appealing enough to be in the performance at the end of the day.
We studied the world disability rights and the performance aims to teach not only the participants these, but also the audience, which will have government officials and village chiefs in it. Hopefully this can make some difference to what support and opportunities people with disabilities in Cambodia receive.
Being given a brief of a dance piece that must show disability rights was slightly challenging to begin with. I didn’t really know how I could incorporate this in an obvious enough fashion that people who have never seen contemporary dance before get the message. Then I had the idea; just to utilise the skills that all of the wonderful members of Arts Team already had. We looked at the rights, and which ones they felt they were living out to the full already.
Seangley for example is a barber and everyone at Epic Arts as well as his local community go to him for their haircut. This allows him to earn money for himself and his family. As he is deaf he needed a sign translator to undergo his training. This is a perfect example of not only how support can be put in place but also how people with disabilities can live their rights to their fullness.
We also looked at getting married and starting a family (and having the privacy to do so), playing sports, living independently, the right to vote and the right to say no to violence and be treated equally by the law. Each was delivered in a wee scene, with each person saying what they can do. The wee scenes worked out brilliantly, and each member loved that they got to dance what they really do in their lives. They really show what they can do.
The participants will also show what they can do. Ideas will be experimented and encouraged through drawing or writing and then they will embody these in groups. So it will be their chance to show what they can do too.
The whole day aims to teach participants and audience about their rights and what they can do, as well as encouraging creativity and learning some dance.
We tested out the day and the performance on staff and students last week, and everybody seemed to have a great time.
For me, it’s just brilliant as I have got to choreograph a touring production. I am so excited to go on a few of the Arts Activity days with them. It also means that I am choreographing for UNICEF too which is pretty cool!!!
Now on to the next thing…. I’m choreographing a new and exciting piece this week too. Yay! Having a lot of fun at my job.