I Am Festival 2023 Highlights - Week Two

Beth Robertson and Lynne Brackley share the highlights from the second week of I Am Festival 2023.

26 May 2023

Strong. Free. Brave. And what’s the sign for a bit tired? If you were at the icandance party on Tuesday, you probably didn’t ache as much as me. It was fantastic. Dennisia, Billie and Juliet warmed us up, got us relaxed and then took us through some dance classics including the Macarena and the Cha Cha Slide Dance (though I had to look up how to do a Charlie Brown later on). We learned some great moves for I’m A Survivor, inspired by watching the I Am Dance Company performing to the same. If you missed it, you can find the short film on the festival site. Highly recommended!

A New Direction team taking part in the icandance Dance Celebration 23rd May 2023
icandance Dance Celebration (2023)

Activism isn’t just about protest and banners. Dance can be a powerful tool to communicate a message and to empower those who take part. The two young dancers talked about why they dance and what inspires them. What stood out was the importance of dancing with others and building friendships that are strengthened through the collaborative process. Just talking about it made both of them smile.

We’ve all had that thing on Zoom when you know you’re working harder than you would have to in person just to get your ideas across. Billie and Dennisia gave us a masterclass in communication and enthusiasm. Thanks to those who joined us. Let us know how it was for you.

Teachers and practitioners working with Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent young people can find out more about how icandance works and how their approach could enhance practice on 8th June at Jackson’s Lane Theatre. It’s free to take part and you can sign up on our website.

icandance Dance Celebration (2023)

Thursday afternoon and Beth finds herself surrounded by fabric, paint, buttons and feathers at Cherry Garden school. Working with artist Nicola-Amy Thomas, students and their families created sections to add to their ‘See Me! Hear Me!’ banners. If that slogan sounds familiar, it’s because Cherry Garden school are teaming up with Watergate school to create banners to take out on the streets of London later in the festival. The students from the school council expressed themselves through gluing, dabbing, choosing and, in some cases, covering themselves from head to feet (quite literally!) in paint! Families decided to add ‘Let us in’ to their banner, a phrase which signifies the many shut doors (both literal and actual) that disabled children and young people, and their parents and carers, face on a daily basis. It was this they wanted to challenge alongside an encouragement for people just to come and say hello.

I’d like to signpost our Chill-Out Pod this week and send thanks to the amazing Chris Mackin at Ickburgh School for his fabulous films. Great for relaxing and quiet personal journeys. Thanks also to Chantal Cook and her team at Riverside School for their dance tutorial in the Get Creative Tent - do check them out!

So, what’s next?

PLUS lots more exciting, creative and fun activities taking place in schools around London.