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Dance Theatre on Mental Health

Mental Health issues have been headline news across the press and media this week, revealing how they can affect us all at some point in our lives, including the Royal Family.

Company Chameleon takes on mental health in Witness, their latest innovative piece of work, which tours the UK this Spring and Summer. Inspired by the Choreographer’s own experience of Bipolar, the piece sees dance theatre take on a real and relevant issue, which affects one in four of us each year.

Kevin Edward Turner, Choreographer of the piece and co-Artistic Director of Company Chameleon said:

“Witness draws upon my own experience of Bipolar and the impact it has had on me and those closest to me. The work embodies what I witnessed both real and imaginary in my ill health, and also what my loved ones witnessed whilst I was ill.”

With a company of five dancers, which includes Kevin Edward Turner, Witness sensitively portrays how loved ones cope when mental health problems take hold of someone close. Intimate solos, emotive duets and group work combine to reveal the impact of mental health on individuals and relationships, along with the crucial role of support and understanding in the road to recovery.

Featuring a melting pot of dance styles and rich mix of movement techniques, Witness tells a powerful story of mental health issues through dance and movement, creating a moving and original interpretation of a condition, which is too often misunderstood.

Kevin Edward Turner added:

“In making this work, I want to contribute towards the debate and understanding of mental health problems, and challenge preconceived notions of what is still in some ways, a taboo subject. I would also like people who are struggling out there to realise that things can change and it is possible to find happiness and health again; that it can be managed. If I can get better so can anyone.”

Witness is the main piece is a new double-bill by the Manchester dance company, which was nominated for Best Independent Dance Company at the National Dance Awards in 2015.

Audiences can also look forward to Words Unspoken, a dynamic short work choreographed by Kevin Edward Turner and Anthony Missen. This piece opens the production and explores the untold secrets of the performers on stage. Six dancers perform flawlessly formed movements in a striking and synchronized style. The effect is hypnotic and provides the perfect opener to what promises to be a powerful and memorable double-bill by one of the UK’s homegrown dance companies.

Andrew Hurst, Chair of Company Chameleon and Chief Executive of One Dance UK, said:

“Dance has the power to tell all kinds of different stories, and it’s inspiring to see Company Chameleon tell a story that can make a positive difference by shaping perceptions around a real issue. With actors like Stephen Fry speaking out about Bipolar, and new initiatives launching, such as the ArtsMinds web-site for performing arts professionals, there’s currently a real drive to breakdown the stigma of mental illness. It’s fantastic to see dance being part of this movement for change through Company Chameleon’s work.”

Along with seeing the production itself, local schools, colleges and young people’s groups have the opportunity to further explore Witness and the theme of mental health through associated workshops with Company Chameleon. Drawing from key themes within the production, the workshops will explore mental health through creativity, self-expression and dance theatre as an artform. Contact Natalie Davies, Learning & Participation Officer at Company Chameleon, for more information at natalie@companychameleon.com.

Witness takes place at DanceEast: Jerwood DanceHouse, Ipswich on Friday 12 May, 7.30pm.

Ticket Prices from £12, £9 concessions, School Groups £6. For more information or to book call the Box Office on 01473 295230 or visit DANCEEAST.CO.UK

Company Chameleon is supported by Arts Council England and Manchester City Council.

Words Unspoken is commissioned by La Mov Dance Company in Spain.

About Molly Richardson

Molly has a passion for all things entertainment. When not at the theatre, cinema or a concert, she's often found reviewing or blogging about it!

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