Dancers Suzie West & Rob Mennear share how they brought joy to their community during lockdown.
We are lucky to live in Grampound Road and we wanted to find a way to keep the spirits lifted during the first lock down and entertain the village in a safe way.
We are professional dancers, and every Friday in Spring 2020 we visited each street, playing field and cul-de-sac to perform a short duet. We made a conscious decision to offer something tangible, real and democratic. A dance performance for free, for everyone on the street. By literally taking dance to people’s door steps we provided a cultural experience that some may not have had before.
The digital livestream proved that online activity tends to offer something to an established network, familiar with who you are and the dance offer. We are so pleased they were brave enough to offer live activity. We were surprised that the livestream performances gained so much interest beyond the village.
Originally this was offered as an alternative to people watching the performance live that couldn’t see us. Eventually, it provided a way for
friends, family and the village’s friends and family to share the experience too.
We reached 436 residents across the month of May with an average of 109 per Friday across the streets. We also performed their diet on facebook live every week and this became increasingly popular for those shielding and outside of the village. We had 1,895 Livestream viewers with the viewing increasing over 100% from 222 to 530 by the final week.
In the late summer, Suzie and Rob received a second round of funding as Krill to develop a number of light touch events for local communities. One of these included an evening of outdoor performance for Grampound Road residents at the village Cricket Pitch. They were able to bring the community together for an evening of live music, dance and craft workshops. They were able to invite the Dis- Dance Ball as well as West
End singer Stephanie Johnson.
The project has brought us closer to our community in the village and gave the neighbours a chance to be closer too. Our favourite part of the the performance is looking back at the neighbours when we leave their street, and seeing that they are chatting, kids are running or dancing around. The performances instigate a longer lasting community interaction.#
The funding was very helpful at motivating us to continue to be creative as artists, and most importantly value our role in the community as artists. Of course, the money helped us to pay our mortgage and bills.. but it also gave us an assurance and ambition to provide something to our village that only we could.
The feedback has been astonishing. The positive conversations had with the audiences that are waiting for the performance, give an insight into how much some looked forward to the Friday dance performance: They would talk about their week, their experience of dance as a young person or what they have seen on the TV. The facebook page has been a great way to capture appreciation and to have longer conversations with people.
“The maids and I loved Friday’s dance, we’ve loved them all! Thank you so much. Looking forward to June.”
“Absolutely beautiful, we’ve so enjoyed meeting you both and seeing your
wonderful performance- please come back and thank you.”
“ I so enjoyed your performances in 2 locations. I sent a video to my sisters in Surrey, Somerset and Devon and brother in Sydney. They were so impressed.”
“Thanks to the young couple in our village who have been going around dancing during this time of lock down to cheer us all up. In particular todays’ dancing celebrating VE Day”