Let Life Dance R&D

One Wish
One Wish – BSL

All videos have support for subtitles in English and Amharic. Set your preference via the CC/Subtitles controls on the video.

We were awarded a research and development grant from the Arts Council of Wales in April 2023 to kick start our work as a Company. 

Firstly, Jessie visited Andrew Purvin director of Fetch Theatre in Leominster to learn about shadow puppetry, puppets and set design. Jessie spent a week with Purvin in his workshop playing, being set tasks, learning methods of storytelling and finally creating her own puppet named Tariku, his story in Amharic. They talked through ideas and the planning of the practical weeks.  Jessie travelled to visit and give workshops to inclusive dance groups across Wales. She visited Impelo, WISP, Dance Blast, Motion Control and Hijinx Academy in Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Colwyn Bay and Carmathern.

Jessie wanted to get a clearer idea of the work organisations are already doing in Wales and to see if there were any dancers who could join us in our R&D weeks in Theatr Brycieniog. Across Wales she found a lot of great work happening with incredible teachers doing amazing job, which was a joy to see. There is a lot of enthusiasm and talent, and she was able to invite 3 dancers to join the R&D from Hijinx, WISP and Dance Blast. 

Jessie then went into research mode and read many books of Welsh and African folk tales. And deep dived into the Gene Keys searching for clarity on what message she wanted to come through the work, which took a lot of looking inward and imaging the world that Jessie and her children to live in.

Humans Move
Humans Move – BSL

Jessie and Lara met up with their children for 2 nights in West Wales to walk the land, visit ancient castles, and contemplate the magic of Wales and its history. Jessie taught workshops at Ysgol Penmaes, a forward-looking school specialising in additional Learning Needs in Brecon. Jessie worked with two classes aged 5-6 years and 14-16 years old. Jessie then invited these two groups into the theatre to share our work with them for their feedback and what it was like to have them in the audience.

Jessie planned an exchange with the group of dancers she had worked closely with in Ethiopia for many years previously. She worked with Edom Baheru closely as she facilitated the exchange with Addis Guzo Dance Group, a training for disabled dancers she set up with Dawit Seto in 2018 and other local professional dancers who have worked on the Humans Move. 

Home – BSL

She wanted to trial an online exchange to see what was possible and if it was something that we would like to develop more in the future. In October we finally came together with 6 amazing dancers, a puppet, designer and deaf consultant in Theatr Brycheiniog for 3 days. We started by zooming the group in Ethiopia warming up together, this was so emotional and beautiful. Jessie set a task to both groups and we turned the cameras off to do it and then came back together to reflect on it after. All of the work that the Ethiopian group did was documented. These 3 days were a lot of fun.

We explored many ideas and got to know each other as a group. This takes time especially when you are working with disabled and non disabled dancers as there is a lot of understanding and getting to know each other to do. We experimented with fabrics and props, shadow puppetry, improvisation and movement and tried out our puppet Tariku. After those 3 days of experimenting we had 3 weeks until our last week in the studio and Jessie really got to work on the concept for the work. There was a definite theme of the magic of nature, caring for ourselves, our inner children, each other and our beautiful world. But in these 3 weeks she really focused on the puppet and who this little boy could be/represent.

Connection – BSL

As the daughter of a refugee and having lived in Ethiopia for many years, themes of lost children, refugees, asylum seekers and homelessness came through. It was my first time working with a puppet and Jessie wanted to have a clear narrative running through the work that young audiences could connect with. In the last week of research we were joined by Uma O’Neill, director of WISP Dance Club and 2 incredible dancers from North Wales, Puppeteer, composer and music Therapist, rehearsal director and Audio Describer. We had 9 dancers in the space and we had a really beautiful time dancing together and creating new material for the sharing at the end of the week.

Seperation – BSL

The group in Ethiopia met for 3 days in October and November and created a beautiful shadow puppetry story, beautiful movement material and set us a task too. It was incredibly inspirational to have this connection with these wonderful inspiring dancers and we hope it was inspiring for them too. In the future we want to develop this connection and find ways to support them creatively and continue our connection and inspiring each other. It was such a rich and insightful project and a great beginning to our work as a company. 

A big thank you to the Arts Council of Wales, Theatr Brycheiniog and all of the team who made this possible.

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