Father Figurine has been an advocate for raising awareness on mental health in young people since its creation.
Our audiences have ranged from young adults to adults, dance artists and practitioners to the public either interested in dance theatre or in mental health.
Although we’ve worked with them in workshops before, never have we had adolescents and young people make up our whole audience. And this piece of work is mainly for and about them.
MOTUS Festival 2018 was the perfect chance to both workshop with young people and have them experience the work in full.
The MOTUS experience began with a two-hour workshop. Eager-to-learn Year 7 and 8 boys, aged 11 to 14, joined us and together, we used hip-hop dance and spoken word to explore the mental health issues in young people.
“What’s the first thing you think of when you hear mental health?”
A question to try and raise awareness, as well as find out what these young boys thought about such a topic.
“Blue / Unhappy / Happy / Troubled / Stressed / You feel trapped / Water / Depression / Illness / Happy / Anger / Money / Puzzled / Anxious.”
The answers were heartening. These boys showed an incredible awareness, about emotions and ways of feeling things linked to mental health. A great start.
The students were guided through Father Figurine repertoire and were able to use this as a stimulus to develop their own choreographic ideas. They produced unique, personal, and emotive short pieces, that used spoken word, the repertoire and their own moves brilliantly. They were sensitive to each other and supportive with one another’s ideas.
Their feedback cemented the experience as a great one so far.
“Amazing and the teachers are epic! / Eye-opening and amazing / [I enjoyed] us saying and creating the words and moves / Really fun and enjoyable / I think this was a great experience and it was the most fun I have had in a while.”
Then came the much-anticipated performance. There was, ironically, a huge sense of anxiety before the performance taking place in the beautiful Stantonbury Theatre. How will those who have seen the work up close and personal, explored its themes, and used it as stimuli, experience it in an audience?
Father Figurine is a dance theatre piece exploring the male ego and mental health issues (specifically depression and anxiety) within the context of a fractured father-son relationship. How will our core target audience experience this work?
The rows of young faces, now boys and girls, filling the seats made the significance and importance of the performance settle in. It was an odd and new feeling. To not see or visualise the expectant faces of adults and theatre-goers. But to instead see young people, mostly still in their school uniforms, eager to experience what we had to offer. What we had to offer them specifically. Awareness. Understanding. Self-confidence. Hope.
It was time to communicate to our core target audience on stage.
We loved performing at @motusdancemk festival yesterday. So grateful for the opportunity to share our work with students from @stantonburytheatre school. Catch us teaching in Oxford this week at Cheney, St.Gregs and Larkmead. ✌🏻 #fatherfigurine #bodypoliticuk #mentalhealthawareness #hiphoptheatre #dance #motusdancefestival
“Spectacular, unique, epic / Very sad, upsetting / Amazing and epic, [I was] shocked / Amazing show / Great and intriguing / Confusing, intriguing, enjoyable / Loved the atmosphere. So much strength and confidence was shown / Confusing, intriguing, exciting / Good [and] interesting / Amazing, [it] made me think. Spectacular! / Great and very intriguing.”
We couldn’t be more proud of such amazing, thoughtful and truthful feedback. We’ve learnt a lot from being a part of MOTUS 2018, and will take this experience with us as we plan to reach more young people.