What makes us individual?

Halesowen 4th Feb 2014

It’s 2014! Dudley’s Boys Dancing starts here! This year’s project features a new line up – 5 out of our 6 schools are new to Boys Dancing, we’re now working under the umbrella of the wonderful Black Country Dance Hub and we’ve got Ben Morley (former participant) joining the artistic team. So, with schools booked in, the team ready to go and the ideas flowing, BD Dudley kicks into gear!

This year’s theme being 'avoidance', Ben and I spent some time thinking about subjects that men and boys avoid. We talked a lot about what we avoided when we were young and began to realise that, as young men interested in dance, the very thing that made us individual and different we avoided rather than celebrating. And so, individuality and the differences between us became our subject matter.

My first foray into investigating this in terms of movement came at Halesowen CE Primary where we began thinking about what makes us individuals. In particular, I wanted the boys to identify issues that were pertinent and relevant to them. We established all sorts of criteria that can make us different and then we talked about whether we thought this was advantageous or not. Many of the lads were of the opinion that enforcing our individuality might make us separate and lonely.

Something that I really enjoy about BD is the time we get to engage the participants in dance – particularly when their previous experience is minimal (as it often is with contemporary dance.) We spent the day experimenting with tasks and movement ideas, exploring what the boys’ responses to the theme could be and how it could develop. We also had chance to write and experiment with text and delivery of text – something I’m becoming more and more interested in.

One young gent revealed to me quietly that he is trained in and competes at Ballroom dancing. He showed me some of his repertoire and told me about the styles he prefers. He was reluctant to allow me to include some of this in the piece we were creating – his reaction and conduct being exactly the thing we’re thinking about for our performance. Though the room was filled with boys and men participating in dance, he was still slightly embarrassed about his skills – a feeling I remember, and one that reiterates the importance of projects like Boys Dancing.

Now, I don’t want to give too much away, but over the two days I was at Halesowen, we began to refine and define our ideas and our movement output, incorporating my ideas with the lads’ and by the end of day two, we the beginnings of some very promising work! NUFF SAID!