Taking a Position – dance inspired by Brexit

23 Mar 2018

Their fields of expertise are apparently worlds apart – one is an internationally-respected choreographer, the other a professor of political communication.

But in an unusual move, Sharon Watson, Phoenix’s Artistic Director, and Professor Stephen Coleman from the University of Leeds, have collaborated to create a unique piece of dance that responds to voters’ emotional reactions to Brexit.

Working with talented students from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD) in Leeds, they have drawn on interviews conducted with ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ voters by Professor Coleman to create a piece that explores public opinion surrounding the divisive political situation.

Excerpts from some of the interviews are woven into a soundscape created by Christella Litras, who collaborated with Phoenix on Windrush: Movement of the People, which is currently on tour.

Professor Coleman, from the University’s School of Media and Communication, said: “I’m interested in how politics is experienced and felt by people, often in ways that cannot be simply put into words. When people are driven by passions, as they certainly are on both sides of the Brexit debate, it makes sense to explore exactly what it is that moves them. Choreographers and dancers are experts at interpreting how and why people move.”

“That is why this collaboration with Sharon Watson has been so immensely rewarding. It’s a way of exploring a different dimension of political communication – one that can help us to understand raw feelings that are too easily neglected in our political discourse.”

Sharon adds: “I do hope people find a way of connecting with it because it’s a story that resonates and will be with us for a very long time.”

The work was premiered at The Riley Theatre from the 20th to 23rd of March as part of the NSCD’s Student Showcase, a range of exciting commissions by a range of guest artists, the event was a big success and the collaboration was very well received. A previous collaboration led to the production of a play, Counted, based on Professor Coleman’s interviews with voters around the 2010 general election, performed at Leeds’ West Yorkshire Playhouse.