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Freedom: the booming cherries dance company

the booming cherries dance company

[cover image]

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
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.

Why dance?
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 experience?
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 shell.

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?
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 finished.

What advice would you give to aspiring dancers/performers?
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


Last update: 2000-02-06 15:32:15 (EEST).
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