Hundreds of people enjoyed a large-scale outdoor dance spectacular in South Shields on Easter Sunday.
More than 550 people attended Rush, which featured over 100 performers, a water cannon, lots of prams and copious amounts of coloured dust against a backdrop of St Hilda’s Engine Shed.
The performance was the latest commission from The Cultural Spring, a three-year Arts Council-funded initiative aiming to encourage and increase participation in the Arts in 10 wards on South Tyneside and Wearside.
The live performance was the culmination of months of community-based workshops, with performers coming from Sunderland College, East Durham College, Boldon Community Association and dance groups and other organisations from across Wearside and South Tyneside.
It used three main characters – a single mum; a homeless man and a worker on a zero-hours contract – to explore how the arts can provide a voice, and an alternative to violent protest, to those who feel marginalised from society.
The show started and ended with high-tempo set pieces, with the climax full of movement, energy and memorable images created through clouds of coloured dust and intelligent lighting.
Anne Simpson, from South Shields, whose daughter was performing, said: “I just loved it – the energy, the music, the colour, the whole thing was great and right here on our doorstep. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it’s so important that we have performances like this in Shields. I can’t believe it was free – I’d have paid to see it.”
Gill Smith, from Sunderland, also thoroughly enjoyed the show: “I’d seen it advertised, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. It blew me away, I was really moved by it. I loved the different sections and the stories being told.
“The video being screened on to the side of the building was clever and the sight of the dancers emerging through the yellow and red dust was just amazing. I hope they put it on again, I’d definitely come and see it again.”
Martin Wood had travelled through from Newcastle to see Rush: “It was clever, accessible and different. I loved the John Lennon Working Class Hero section and thought the bit with dancers and sleeping bags was beautiful – the lady next to me was in tears. The pace of the whole thing, and the energy, was so impressive, I couldn’t believe they weren’t all professional performers.
“It cheered me up – a bit – after the derby result.”
Rebecca Ball, project director of the Cultural Spring said: “We thought it was going to be a special show and that’s what it proved to be. Rush is exactly what the Cultural Spring is about – working with people in our local communities to produce the very best in arts and culture.
“You could see how much the audience enjoyed Rush but the dancers, many of whom had never performed before, also got so much out of the project.
“They should be proud of themselves and hopefully Rush has provided a spark of interest to those who’d not danced before – or those who saw the show and were inspired to get involved in a dance workshop or dance group.”
To find out more about The Cultural Spring project, visit www.theculturalspring.org.uk or follow @Cultural_Spring on twitter.