New Dance Film Brings Communities Together

On a March Sunday last year, community dancers braved arctic conditions and performed a series of interventions in different locations across the city centre. At times the blizzards threatened to blow them off their feet, but now and again during the quieter moments, they moved in unison and the snowflakes fell about them like confetti. 

Moving Moments, a community dance project led by Barbara Grabher Research Assistant and PHD Student at Hull University, has as its starting point a photograph taken moments after a giant confetti canon has exploded during LGBT50. Barbara then asks the question, “What happens after the confetti has fallen and lays upon the ground?” 

The film Moving Moments uses dance to respond to the underlying question of legacy and reflects, particularly within the powerful statements that play over the film, upon the need for the conversation to continue. It does not seek to denigrate or congratulate any individual or institution; it isn’t PR and Marketing, and isn’t at all concerned with numbers. 

“As an academic I am used to give public lectures and present in conferences but this was a completely new challenge as you are not directly interacting with an audience but expressing your argument through the medium of a film. However having a screening and immediate feedback made a year of hard work absolutely worthwhile. The enthusiasm and engagements of those who participated in elements of the film is giving me great joy and confirmation that the conversation needs to continue,” said Barbara Grabher, Research Assistant.

The actions refer to the participants’ memories and emotions connected with Hull’s first year in the cultural spotlight. Each component was devised and developed by the cast of community dancers working with choreographer Tamar Draper. The locations chosen represented the site of key events during the year. 

The debut screening of Moving Moments took place in the the New Adelphi Club mid January 2019. An audience of participants, artists and academics praised the film for its beauty and sense of serenity before enjoying the jazz/folk music of duo Isaac and Rebecca. 

Dancer Mandy-lee Porteous said: “Watching the film I am reminded of the camaraderie on that winter’s day in 2018. It was us against the elements and we were going to dance no matter what. Dancing in the snow was invigorating, the repetition allowed you to inhabit the moves so that they became ritualistic: that feeling of embodiment comes across so beautifully in the film.”

Being in the Adelphi was a bit of a coup and not only brought new faces inside, but also underlined the vital relationship the club continues to foster with the university. The film is characterised throughout with that same sense of community, as it does bring together people from wildly different backgrounds to share an experience and develop a new understanding of each other. 

Since the conclusion of the event series conversations have begun and continued, new friendship groups have formed and new opportunities sought, the most recent example – Isaac and Rebecca landing a gig at the Adelphi after impressing proprietor Paul Jackson at the screening night.  

The film is a collaborative work by Andrew Quinn, Barbara Grabher and Tamar Draper for the GRACE project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 675378.

Blog: GRACE Project

[Michelle Dee – arts blogger]