Charli Encor, artistic director of ’Ballet de Chaises’ and established solo French street artist and Maria Xavier of Amiens Metropole Cirque Jules Verne, arrived in Winchester on a cold winters day. After a meeting with Sian Thomas, and a look around a Christmassy Winchester, they all attended a show by local learning disabled amateur group, Blue Apple Theatre at The Tower Theatre. Charli saw their work and met with some of the group after the show. Sian Thomas says : ’I am hoping that Charli might be able to help Blue Apple Theatre and make an outdoor show for Hat Fair. This was a chance for Charli to see their work and consider and what might be feasible’.
The day after, Charli observed StopGap’s rehearsal process. The company was working some apprentices and ran a class, workshop and discussion. StopGap are a South East based mixed ability professional dance company with an apprentice and educational programme that runs alongside their professional output in venues and at street arts festivals and events. It is hoped that StopGap and Charli might work together as part of the ZEPA project. First of all the two needed to meet and get to know each other and their respective working methods. Charli and Maria, along with Sian, spent the day with StopGap shared about their practices. They also met with the company choreographer, Lucy Bennett and company manager, Sho Shibata in the evening.
The next step is for Lucy and Sho of StopGap to go to Amiens at the end of December to see Ballet Chaises, and meet with Jean-Pierre Marcos and Phillipe Macret at Cirque de Jules Verne.
It is felt that once the artists have established an understanding of each others work, it can be fully ascertained if there is a desire in them to work together.
The visit of Charli to StopGap was investigative and raised a number of interesting questions about the differences and similarities in disabled artist practice in England and France, in terms of opportunity, attitude and support. Already this has been an educative experience.
Credit : DR