Like Mirabai

In 2016 Billy Read completed his project “Like Mirabai” with  Giulia Marchetti that was funded by Arts Council England and produced by Deaf Explorer.

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Summary and origin of the show called, LIKE MIRABAI the original title “What the hell you talking about” by Billy Read and Giulia Marchetti

In 2015, in Bosnia, I was pivotal in creating an extraordinary participatory dance experience, I have identified the elements that made it a success, they are a promotor who understands participation by young people and has experience of enabling my practice as a deaf artist to flourish as a result of having full access; a collaborator (Giulia Marchetti) who can see the drama in British Sign Language and has the skills to bind the language into dance. With this, I propose a new work blending urban hip hop, Bharatanatyam dance & British Sign Language to create a narrative about oppression. 


Billy Read, established dancer & admired technical hip-hop choreographer amongst his peers in the Deaf Community in the Uk and internationally. To support emerging deaf dancers in 2011 he founded the deaf dance crew Def Motion. By 2013 he was leading Def Motion at CLIN D’OEIL The European Deaf Arts Festival in Reims, France. As in an individual, he is interested in collaboration and performed a duet in 2014 The BAY AREA DEAF DANCE FESTIVAL. In 2015, he responded to a calling for deaf artists at the Birmingham Weekender Festival in September 2015 and made a new show, involving 30 people. West Midlands based he is a regular performer at Wolverhampton’s DeafFest (Deaf Film Festival)

Billy is a workshop leader. In 2015 he was employed by Hand print Theatre to teach dance to secondary school children for their theatre production of CATS, at London West End. In 2013 he won a Deaf Explorer Travel grant, and went to Hong Kong and Singapore to collaborate with two deaf dance companies who involve young people. Billy regularly applies to work outside the Uk; because he finds disparity of opportunity for deaf people in the mainstream, e.g. no BSL interpretation for meetings and networking. He was selected to work in Bosnia in 2014 and again in 2015 at the “Complete Freedom of Choice” Festival, organised by Opera Circus. His role is that of a dance leader making dance shows with young people about oppression, his deafness has transformed the Festival. 


Billy Read proposes to collaborate with dance artist Giulia Marchetti, who is unique due her love of Bharatanatyam – a classical Indian theatre-dance. Billy & Gulia were brought together in 2015 by Opera Circus who selected the artists because of their participation skills with young people. Together at the Complete Freedom of Truth Festival in Bosnia they made an astonishing piece of dance with young people. Opera Circus have invited the two of them to work with young people at Bridport Arts Centre in 2016. However the focus for Billy & Gulia is on collaboration. Their goal, if they meet again is to make a new show that spotlights and builds on the underlying concepts and practice that makes the collaboration of interest to the artists themselves, new audiences (deaf people in the south asian community) young people and promoters. Billy and Gulia will show strength in diversity by fusing the different characteristics of Urban & Hip Hop dance, and merge them with classical Indian theatre-dance to tell a story about deaf experience, oppression and discrimination. British Sign language will be embedded into the dance to make a multifaceted performance that when played out with young people in Bosnia shocked and moved audiences. Billy and Giulia feel they have touched on “something exciting” and want time to apply their artistic skills and further expose this finding. They have a concept for promoters, that of a two part show, part one the “duet” and part two a show made with young people.

We will invite deaf and hard of hearing and hearing young people to attend dance workshops & create a dance show.We particularly want to reach diverse communities and the deaf young people in those communities. The workshops will be attractive to target groups because they will fuse south asian dance with hip-hop. The dance activity will also be inclusive for deaf and hard of hearing by encouraging creative use of British Sign Language alongside narrative in mudra (gestures) and Bharatanatyam dance. The goal is to make a collaborative show with young people, that explores the title, “What the hell you talking about?” This will be a highly interactive experience allowing young people to participate on many levels, intellectually when defining oppression, physically when finding movement to express themselves and the use of language and story. The young people will present their show or version of the title, alongside Billy Reads and Giulia Marchetti’s Duet. This will create a new audience for the dance show and be a catalyst for high quality after show discussion between the dance artists and the young people. Further demonstrating the importance of Billy and Giulia making a comparative show of their own. We will ask a facilitator to use the after show discussion to ask questions about the themes raised and the different ways participants and audiences interpreted the show. This will be recorded and a short film made to further promote the activity beyond the life of the shows. 

The dance performance will be shown in a context constructed by the promotors, this provides greater opportunity for the promoters to reach the target audience and involve the intended participants. To attract Deaf young people Billy Read will provide deaf leadership and support the promotors through attendance of meetings and taster workshops. The promotors will be marketing the activity using email, press and radio, social media and print publicity. Promotors include Opera Circus, Bridport, Dorset who organise high quality arts activity for young people. Incloodu Festival is a team of deaf promoters who annually hire RichMix in Bethnal Green, London to put on a weekend of arts activity for deaf audiences with a focus on club culture. The Way is a new facility with a dance space that’s attracting great interest from parents and young people in Wolverhampton.
Coffin Works, is a new quirky museum in Birmingham keen to involve new audiences using the arts. Using this mix of venues a blueprint will be created for future dance projects by Billy Read involving young people from deaf and diverse backgrounds.
The locations of Wolverhampton and Birmingham are rich in their diversity of young people. We are confident that a diverse mix of young people will be involved, in a recent project by Birmingham based Deaf Explorer involving Braidwood school for the Deaf the diversity of the pupils was over 70%, we anticipate similar figures in Wolverhampton, when we provide specific marketing material describing fusion South Asian dance & Hip Hop.

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