Name: Kerry Chappell
Education: BA (Hons) Experimental Psychology, Oxford University
Dance Training: Oxford University Dance Society, One Year
Special Course at London Contemporary Dance School
Profession: Education, Training and Community Administrator
at Laban Centre London
|Name: Saydi Williams
Education: BTEC National Diploma in the Performing Arts (2yrs),
Coventry Centre for the Performing Arts
Dance Training: BTEC Higher National Diploma in Dance (2yrs),
Newcastle College (Dance City based), One Year Special Course at London
Contemporary Dance School
Profession: Stage Hand at the Phoenix
Theatre in the West End, London
What's your personal definition of freedom?
KC It's difficult to define freedom when it's something, in political
and social terms, that you take for granted. It can be seen from many
different standpoints - freedom of speech, choice, religion, action...
I'd say outside physical freedom, it's having the right to express your
own opinions and act on them without restriction (as long as they don't
harm or impose on others!), whether those opinions relate to more global
issues about politics or philosophy, or whether they relate to something
as small-scale as the type of dance you perform and teach, and to what
kind of audience you take it.
SW Yes, I think it's very much to do with state of mind and having
the capacity to do what you want without the invasion of other people's
opinions. Those opinions can be expressed, as long as they are constructive
and not detrimental or restrictive. We're very lucky in that we perform
pieces we have created, and work with students in a way that we choose.
We do take this freedom of expression for granted because so far it has
never been questioned.
KC Our first response to that was 'no choice'. When you're involved
in dance you don't weigh up the pros and cons of dance, as opposed to
water polo, and decide which of the two you prefer. You're involved because
you have to be. It's quite hard to explain unless you're a dancer; it's
an impulse that doesn't go away... quite interesting in terms of 'freedom'.
Sometimes, I do feel that I haven't had the 'freedom' to do lots of other
things, but it's not a forced lack of freedom, it's something I've always
known I would do.
SW I never knew anything different - dance has always been the
strongest and most overwhelming driving force.
Why are you called 'the booming cherries dance company' and how did
you come into being?
KC The name comes from our two nicknames at school. Saydi used
to be called Boo and, unfortunately, I earned the title Cherry Krappell!
SW We came into being when we were asked by a choreographer with
whom we were both performing to create a ten minute piece to fill a gap
in the programme. The piece went down very well and we decided to enter
it for a few dance platforms in London. That was in April 1997, and before
we knew it, we had a packed agenda of performances and workshops. We then
decided to make it official and developed our own ideas about how and
where we wanted to perform and who we wanted to work with, ie. taking
dance to those who would not normally have access to the artform. Hence,
the summer of 1998 was spent performing and teaching at Street Festivals,
on beaches, in caravan parks and in church halls.
Is it rewarding working with people with Special Needs and/or no dance
KC Saydi has a lot more experience in this area than I do, and
it's something that she has encouraged me to take part in. I admit, I
was apprehensive in the first Special Needs workshop we did, but now I
do enjoy them and find some of the outcomes quite amazing.
SW Yes, very rewarding. Dance is not always something that people
with Special Needs get a chance to be a part of. This form of expression
is often overlooked and can bring the most unlikely people out of their
What's the best and the worst feature of this type of work?
KC The best time is when the penny drops for a workshop participant,
or when someone who has never seen contemporary dance before gets the
point, or you get a real buzz from performing; it makes you instantly
forget you ever had any problems.
SW On the other hand, when a workshop or performance doesn't work,
it can simply end up being hard work, both physically and mentally - which,
on top of a full time job, can be difficult in terms of motivation.
What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you during a performance?
KC/SW A boy with a dog in tow once cycled through one of our street
performances, and at the same outdoor venue the following year there was
a massive thunderstorm. The piece we were performing was the one in the
photo on the cover and involved throwing ten Yellow Pages around - not
fun when they're sodden with water; we wrang our costumes out when we'd
What advice would you give to aspiring dancers/performers?
KC If you're an aspiring dancer, then as we said at the beginning,
you probably don't need telling because you're going to do it anyway.
I'd just say that when you look back, you're likely to be amazed at what
you've overcome on the way.
SW Don't be disheartened by the word 'No'. There is always something
else round the corner and especially in the arts, a 'no' is often not
because you were at fault, but because your big toe wasn't the right shape!
Never think that you're tackling problems on your own; there's always
someone else in the same boat.
What motivates you?
KC The satisfaction of seeing someone who either never thought
they would dance or seeing someone who always thought contemporary dance
was impenetrable, understand and get the point.
SW Having the freedom to be able to do something I want and the
'drug' of performance.
What are your hopes for the future?
KC To keep on taking our work to places that wouldn't normally
experience it. I'd also like to be much more involved in dance education
policy and particularly research, which is something that I got into at
the end of my degree at Oxford.
SW To provide better opportunities for people with Special Needs
and their experience of the arts.
Which people have influenced/inspired you?
KC 'LaLaLa Human Steps' is the most inspiring dance company I've
seen in a while. Personally, my dad has had a big influence on the way
I've done things and also a dancer called Jacqui Malone, who I met while
I was at Oxford. She didn't start her training until she was nineteen
and was instrumental in my decision to go back to dance after University.
SW My mum and my family who continue to spark my love for the
theatre and Phyllis Kempster, who, although she never approved, taught
me all she knew.
Do you think dance will ever decline/die out?
KC Dance comes from people and continually evolves alongside their
lives. At the forefront of the profession currently, dance is highly involved
with technology and state of the art developments in this field. It will
always be there.
SW No, dance will always be a part of society. As long as bodies
move, there will be dance.
What would you most like to say to the world's youth?
KC It's actually nothing to do with dance - don't damage the planet
anymore and recycle as many things as you can.
SW Don't give up, you only get one chance.
Where can people get more information about your events?
They can call us about workshops or performances (indoor and outdoor)
on 0171 241 2087. We are also looking for sponsors (in kind and donations)
for the summer of 1999. All enquiries welcome!
Laura Trevelyan, UK