A group of 20 young people are readying themselves for a unique canal journey starting in the Midlands on 1 July. In the course of completing the seven day route to Salford, they will devise and rehearse a new dance piece, before performing it at The Lowry in Salford, as part of U Dance, the National Youth Dance Festival, followed by a performance at the Birmingham Hippodrome.
Titled Dance on Water, the project is led by the Trust, Re:Bourne, the charitable arm of Matthew Bourne's famous dance theatre company New Adventures, and dance ambassadors from the young dancers' home cities.
All aged 16-20, the dancers have been selected following rigorous auditions throughout April, led by outreach professionals from the Lowry and Hippodrome, that saw over 100 people attend workshops in an effort to get a place on the trip.
Operate canal boats
The 80 mile route takes in four canals - the Shropshire Union, Trent & Mersey, Bridgewater and finally the Manchester Ship Canal – and includes four tunnels and over 37 locks, with trained skippers teaching the participants how to operate the canal boats, which they will be calling home for the week.
During the journey the students will work with two choreographers from Re:Bourne to develop their technique and performance skills by creating a new, high-quality piece of dance, inspired by the waterways they pass through. The young people will record their progress and experiences through film and social media, ahead of the performances on the 9 and 10 July.
Inspired by the waterways
Tim Eastop, executive director for the Trust's Arts on the Waterways programme, said: “Dance on Water is set to connect Birmingham and Salford through contemporary dance and waterways, boosting the participants' creativity and confidence. It will be a very special collaboration between young people, Matthew Bourne's acclaimed Re:Bourne company, two highly regarded international arts venues, and local people along the stretch of 200-year old canals.
"Travelling along the canal network at not much more than four miles an hour, offers the young people the chance to enter a slower, mindful world - escaping everyday life and the pressures that come with it. There can't be many dance groups waking up to the gentle lapping of water and next to wildlife. It's a unique environment, one we hope inspires the dancers and choreographers ahead of the performances at the Lowry and Hippodrome.”
Dance on Water is being funded by Arts Council England, the Canal & River Trust, CHK Charities Ltd, Baron Davenport's Charity, Tony Hales and supported by players of the People's Postcode Lottery.