Candoco is an Islington based inclusive dance company that work with disabled and non-disabled dancers. Their recent project, part of the Word 2017 festival, gave young people in Islington the opportunity to create their own letter-themed performance. Kimberley, a choreographer working with Candoco, spoke to us about inspiration behind the project.
“Candoco is a professional dance company who have inspired me from a young age,” says Kimberley. “They have a focus on quality of work, bringing bodies and diversity together.”
The founders of Candoco met in a leisure centre where disabled and non-disabled people were completely separated.
“They thought ‘what happens if we bring these people together’,” Kimberley explains. “It was different and exciting. Candoco have invested a lot of time into increasing knowledge about the work that they do; some performances have gotten critical acclaim. They now commission professional choreographers who come in to create work. The practice of the company really informs choreographers and the work that they create.”
Word 2017 is a celebration of the power of words, held in Islington throughout June.
“Candoco’s learning producer, Ellie, got in touch with me to see if we could pitch a project related to Word. I was creating a solo at that point; fascinated with the idea that when you write letters the communication is very different to other ways of communicating, such as by email or chatting to someone face to face. I realised that when I was younger there were some things I couldn’t say, so I wrote them down instead.”
“We devised an application for Word 2017 working with those that suffer with mental health issues, disabled people and non-disabled people. We wanted to create a performance around the idea of letter writing, so that’s how we came up with dancing letters.”
The project spanned 8 weeks and concluded with a dance performance at Dingley Place, EC1. A group of 8-11 young people met on a weekly basis at Platform Youth Hub, and devised a piece with Kimberley’s support.
“It’s gone even better than I expected,” says Kimberley. “The young people involved were really open so I was surprised in a lovely way. We had lots of fun exploring what the young people wanted to say and do, and they knew they could try new things. I’m really touched by what they pulled through and it was definitely a special project.”
Candoco’s next project with young people is the B Creative Summer School, a week-long inclusive summer school for young women. Find out more on their website.