Keep Dancing! Norfolk’s Older Generation Learn to Belly Dance

Hopefully you’ve had chance to read our last blog post, which was all about our Big Sing event in March, celebrating the ‘Our Day Out’ participatory singing and dance workshops. Every three months, we work with different professional artists to deliver brilliant participatory arts sessions, specifically designed to engage Norfolk’s older generation in creativity and culture. The Big Sing event in March marked the end of our groups’ time with local singers Mary and Kim, but did signal the beginning of perhaps the most ambitious activity our groups have tried yet – belly dancing!

Our participants have taken part in their fair share of dance styles before, including tea dances and contemporary ballet with renowned company Rambert, but since April, our groups in Attleborough, Dereham and Thetford have been trying out a completely new style with the brilliant Henrietta from Zahara Belly Dance. Music and dance activities have been proven to have a huge impact on the wellbeing of older people, especially those living with dementia, which is why our sessions focus on engaging our participants in these activities. It’s fantastic that by working with Henrietta, Creative Arts East are able to offer our participants the chance to try something different.

 Henrietta said about the sessions:

I am really enjoying delivering a series of belly dance sessions for ‘Our Day Out’ in Dereham, Thetford and Attleborough. Everyone joins in as we shimmy and jingle wearing the brightly coloured hip scarves. There is lots of laughter and joy as we dance together. It is such a rewarding experience for me, bringing my passion for the dance to a new group of people and seeing them respond to the music and moves. Belly dance has the ability to transport people to a different place where we can feel the music and just dance together. I am so pleased to be involved in the project.”

Not only are the belly dancing sessions an excellent way for Norfolk’s older generation to remain active and mobile, and in the words of one of our budding belly dancer Sylvia from Attleborough, they’re also “a good laugh”! They can be tailored for any ability, undertaken seated or standing, and are fully inclusive to those with dementia and other long-term health conditions. The sessions take place twice a month in Attleborough, Dereham and Thetford, and we are also running music-making workshops twice a month with our Watton, North Walsham, and Wells-next-the-Sea groups. For full dates and details, visit our website here, or contact lea@creativeartseast.co.uk. We’re always looking for volunteers to help out and more participants to take part, so do get in touch!

The ‘Our Day Out’ project is funded by Spirit of 2012 Trust, with additional funding supplied by Breckland Council and North Norfolk District Council. For more information about Henrietta’s fantastic belly dancing sessions, visit her website here.

Advertisements

The Big Sing: A Recap of a Great Day Out

As well as our core rural touring schemes (Creative Arts East Screen and Live!), we also deliver a variety of projects in the Eastern region, which involve different community groups. Over the last few years, one of our biggest projects has become ‘Our Day Out’. This project began in 2016, with the help of our major funding partner, Spirit of 2012 Trust. As part of the project, we work with professional artists to deliver creative, participatory music and dance workshops specifically designed to involve the older generation in arts and cultural activity. We run sessions twice a month in 6 different locations across Norfolk, with the artists leading the sessions  changing every 3 months. The project offers participants the chance to meet new people, have fun, and get creative, all in a dementia-inclusive environment.

Since January, the sessions have been delivered by local musical artists Mary and Kim, and participants have been taking part in singing workshops, singing favourites from yesteryear, learning new styles, and even trying their hand at song-writing! To mark the end of Mary and Kim’s time with our participants, we brought all of the groups together for a ‘Big Sing’ on Thursday 29th March at Dereham Memorial Hall.

The Big Sing was a fantastic celebration of the songs the participants have been learning over the last few months, and it gave everyone the opportunity to meet people from the other groups. Each of the 6 groups had been working on their own verse of the sea shanty ‘In This Windy Old Weather’ over the course of the sessions, and so ‘The Big Sing’ allowed all the groups to join their verses together and create their own personalised version of this classic song. As well as the singing, there was laughter, chatter, and of course, no ‘Our Day Out’ event would be complete without refreshments, so we made sure there was plenty of tea and cake on hand!

Our funders, Spirit of 2012 Trust, attended the Big Sing, and said this about the success of the event:

“It was a great event and the joy amongst participants was palpable when they were singing and in the breaks. It was genuinely moving to see what a great time they were having and the release that singing and being in a group can bring. Spirit of 2012 is very proud to fund such an inclusive and inspirational project, bringing people together to have fun, make friends and explore their creativity. ”

We’ve loved partnering with Mary and Kim, and are looking forward to our next lot of ‘Our Day Out’ sessions kicking off this week! The artists we’ll be working with from April till June will be Tessa Wingate, and Zahara Belly Dance. Half of the groups will make more music with Tessa, while the other half will join Zahara with gentle belly dancing-style movements! Check out the upcoming sessions here!

Wells-next-the-Sea (The Sackhouse at Wells Maltings, Jicklings Yard, Wells-Next-The-Sea, NR23 1AU)

Tuesday 10th April 1pm-3pm
Tuesday 24th April 1pm-3pm
Tuesday 8th May 1pm-3pm
Tuesday 22th May 1pm-3pm

Thetford (Thetford Methodist Church, Tanner St, Thetford IP24 2BQ)

Friday 6th April 2pm-4pm
Friday 20th April 2pm-4pm
Friday 4th May 2pm-4pm
Friday 18th May 2pm-4pm

Dereham (The Meeting Point, St Withburga Lane, Dereham, NR19 1DF)

Friday 13th April 2pm-4pm
Friday 27th April 10am-12pm
Friday 11th May 2pm-4pm
Friday 25th May 10am-12pm

Watton (Christian Community Centre, 57 High Street, Watton, IP25 6AB)

Thursday 5th April 2pm-4pm
Thursday 19th April 2pm-4pm
Thursday 3rd May 2pm-4pm
Thursday 17th May 2pm-4pm

Attleborough (St Mary’s Community Hall, Church Street, Attleborough NR17 2AH)

Friday 13th April 10am-12pm
Friday 27th April 1:15pm-3:15pm
Friday 11th May 10am-12pm
Friday 25th May 1:15pm-3:15pm

North Walsham (Cameo Café, Furze Hill Resource Centre, 73 Happisburgh Road, North Walsham, NR28 9HD)

Thursday 12th April 1:30pm-3:30pm

Thursday 26th April 1:30pm-3:30pm

Thursday 10th May 1:30pm-3:30pm

Thursday 24th May 1:30pm-3:30pm

 

If you’d like more information about the project, whether it’s joining in yourself or recommending a friend or family member, please do get in touch on 01953 713390. We’re always looking for volunteers as well, so get in touch here if you want to give back to your local community by helping out at the sessions.

“Great to have Theatre ‘Out in the Sticks’”: The Third Season of INN CROWD has Begun!

Since 2016, we’ve been working in collaboration with fellow rural touring organisation Applause (who do what we do – but in Kent and Sussex), to deliver a unique programme of spoken word-inspired performances, specifically tailored to rural pubs! INN CROWD’s aim is to support pub landlords in offering something a little different to their regular punters and attract new customers too, by enabling them to host high-quality performances in their pubs. This helps cement the pub as a vital part of rural community life, and allows local people the chance to see fantastic professional live art in a familiar and comfortable setting, often without having to travel far at all.

The third season of this brilliant project has just kicked off, with INN CROWD’s first co-production in the form of ‘Holmes & Watson: The Case of the Rhyming Crime’ by Dr Illingworth and Mr Simpson, delighting audiences in 4 rural pubs (The Burston Crown, The Wheatsheaf in West Beckham, The King’s Head in North Lopham and The Dun Cow in Christchurch). As well as this commission, the INN CROWD project will see local pubs host performances by critically acclaimed and award-winning poet Luke Wright (Norfolk and Norwich Festival hit for 2 years running); a one-man play where the famous Lord Byron regales local pubs with his tales of debauchery and romance; and an interactive show called ‘Voted Out’ by local performance poets Mark Grist and Tim Clare, in which audiences can use state-of-the-art technology to interact with the performance, voting real-time on the subject of the poems themselves. Other upcoming events include shows by duo Living Spit, who will deliver their unique brand of musical comedy, and previous INN CROWD hit David Mynne with a one-man version of Great Expectations.

So if you fancy a bit of poetry with your pint, head to our website to see if INN CROWD is coming to a pub near you! If you’re a pub landlord who’s interested, or an artist with a story to tell, more details about the project and how you can get involved are on the INN CROWD website. If you’ve been along to an INN CROWD event and want to share your thoughts and photos, use the hashtag #INNCROWD on Twitter and Facebook!

“Bring entertainment to the pub; that’s what pubs are for. Bring the villages together. Fantastic!”

INN CROWD is a partnership project run by rural touring organisations Creative Arts East in East Anglia and Applause in Kent and Sussex, with artistic support from Writers’ Centre Norwich and expertise from Pub Is The Hub. It will continue until 2019, with majority funding from Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairburn Foundation.

Introducing… James McDermott

We’re kicking off our blog with a brand new feature, Introducing…, where we pick the brains of award-winning Norfolk-based playwright and performer James McDermott, who makes his Creative Arts East debut on Saturday 27th January at Ovington Village Hall, with his critically acclaimed comedy, Rubber Ring.

Rubber Ring is a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age comedy set in Sheringham, and based on McDermott’s own experiences as a working-class Morrissey-obsessed teenager exploring his own sexuality against the backdrop of rural Norfolk. McDermott describes it as “a play with a big heart full of big characters and big laughs”, and his script blends song lyrics, music and autobiographical tales of his teenage years, and promises to be a night out audiences won’t forget…

Sum up your show in 3 words:

‘Funniest! Show! Ever!’

What is your favourite spot in East Anglia?

‘On good days, the clifftop walk from Weybourne to Sheringham. On bad days, Norwich Train Station so I can escape to London.’

If you had one super power, what would it be?

‘The ability to read minds so I could really understand human psychology and then hopefully write better characters. And so I would know who fancies me back and then I wouldn’t waste time pursuing people who don’t.’

What was the first film you saw in the cinema?

‘I want to say it was a Francois Truffaut film but it wasn’t. It was Rugrats In Paris. Very different type of French cinema…’

And finally, give us one reason why people should come and see your show!

‘Because coming out to see a laugh-out-loud coming-of-age comedy about growing up in Norfolk is better than staying in watching repeats of Maigret on ITV Three whilst wolfing down a box of Brandy Snaps.’

 

Rubber Ring will be performed at Ovington Village Hall on Saturday 27th January at 7.30pm. The show is a ‘Pay What You Decide’ performance, giving audiences the opportunity to come, watch, and pay what they think their experience is worth after the show. McDermott will also be holding an informal post-show discussion. Capacity is limited so it is advisable to book in advance. To do so, please call 01953 885848 or click here for more information.

Rubber Ring has been selected as part of our rural touring programme, and will also tour to Sheringham Little Theatre on 5th May and Wymondham Central Hall on 12th May. For more information on upcoming events, please visit our website.