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‘Doing this gives me a sense of power’: Protest performance by Lewisham based dancers attracts crowds during park takeover.


For further information, please call IRIE! dance theatre, based in Lewisham, on 020 8691 6099.
LEWISHAM—3 June 2021— Dancers explored the theme of protest in their dynamic performance in New Cross today.

The second-year university students at IRIE! dance theatre explored the dimensions of protest alongside the wider community as part of their BA (Hons) Diverse Dance Styles degree course. 

Over 50 people joined the two performances in Fordham Park at 2pm and 7pm on a hot and sunny Thursday. 

Inspired by the 40th anniversary of the New Cross Fires and the Black People’s Day, as well as the rising tide of movements towards equality, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the students chose protest as a theme. They drew on these movements when choreographing their performance. Each dance represents one of the dancer’s ideas about protest.

Travelling around the park, each dance looked at different elements of protest and explored ideas around the lengths people would go to for their rights, including putting their lives on the line or risking harm for their beliefs. The students explored a wide range of ideas and forms of protest including around issues of female suffrage, gay rights, and race relations. 

Members of the public were encouraged to join the performance, with many members of the public following the dancers throughout their performance and joining in by waving placards with slogans commonly seen at protests. 

Beverley Glean MBE, CEO of IRIE! dance theatre, said: “this year of all years it has been very difficult for everyone in the community but what we have seen as a result of the pandemic is a lockdown on protest and the lifting of people’s voices where they are able to share as well as understand other people’s plight, it therefore seems like a good time to explore issues around this theme of protest.”
One dancer explained “the piece shows the pains and loss that people must have felt. It is something that is not over, but is now disguised. Doing this gave me a sense of power.” She went on to say: “It’s nice to be able to share. We do this to share with others. Dance is a social thing. Doing a piece on an important topic and sharing is good as it becomes a teachable moment.”

One of the members of the public who joined the performance said: “I found the performance profound – it was great to see the ways that the dancers had represented protest. Being able to move with the dancers from place to place allowed me to interact with the journey and that also helped me to think about the transformative action the performance had been inspired by.” 

The BA (Hons) Diverse Dance Styles programme is IRIE! dance theatre’s flagship course validated by the University of Roehampton. It is the first ever BA course in the UK that places equal emphasis on African, Caribbean, Contemporary and Urban dance techniques.

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