Two schools in St Leonards teamed up with a world-acclaimed contemporary dance company to create a stunning, one-off work of political theatre.
Students at Ark William Parker Academy and Helenswood Academy collaborated with the renowned Hofesh Shechter Company to perform
The company held a week-long residency at the schools to create a new version of the production, which was performed on Friday, December 5.
Students from the schools not only performed as dancers in the piece, but also played music and brought their own choreography to the production.
The week began with a performance of an extract from the Hofesh Shechter Company’s
It ended with 60 Helenswood students, eight Ark 6th Form East Sussex and four Ark William Parker Academy students joining members of the company in performing the dance and the music to their own variation of the piece.
There were three powerful and breathtaking performances, all of which ended to prolonged tumultuous applause.
Elaine Vanner, head of dance at Helenswood Academy, said: “The company performed at the beginning of its residency and it had an absolutely huge impact on the students.
“There was just this incredible awed silence at the end of the piece, followed by this wonderful period of inspiration.”
Helenswood Academy extended the project to the wider community, inviting local primary and secondary schools to attend dance workshops. These included Guestling-Bradshaw, Ark Blacklands, Ark Little Ridge, St Paul’s, Silverdale, Rye Studio School, Rye College and St Richard’s Catholic College.
Kate Tugwell, deputy head from Guestling-Bradshaw, said: “The opportunity for four of our junior pupils was a bonus as part of our community work with Helenswood Academy. For pupils with dyslexic needs or for whom a daily diet of English and maths becomes monotonous and challenging, it gave an opportunity to be successful.”
Philip Hulford, residency leader from Hofesh Shechter Company, said: “It was such a pleasure to be given extended time to work with the young students: to invest in dancers and see growth in dancers of all ages is inspiring both for us and the students.”
The week was funded by the Magdalen and Lasher Charity, Helenswood Academy, Hastings Borough Council and Arts Council England’s Bridge Education Project.