Somebody’s Watching Me

communication with sign language

Billy Read and Fun Forrest Hong Kong

Billy Read invited to apply for Unlimited International Research Award 2017. Unlimited International will enable Billy Read to collaborate with Deaf dancers, Marcus Paulos (Brazil) and Sergio Ruiz Suarez (Spain.) Together they will make a dance show, ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’, exploring the theme of ‘surveillance;’ imagining a dystopian future

Find out about Unlimited

In 2016 Billy Read (profoundly Deaf) received an Arts Council England grant to collaborate with Italian based Giulia Marchetti (hearing). The dance show, ‘Like Mirabai’ exposes aspects of female oppression with a fusion of Indian Dance, (Bharatanatyam), Street Dance and Sign Language. Artistically, the collaboration lifted Billy Read, opening his eyes to new ways of working. It is through collaboration that Billy sees his future development as an artist; with something to say about inequality, privacy & human rights.

Marcos Paulo

Marcos Paulo

Unlimited International will enable Billy Read to collaborate with Deaf dancers, Marcus Paulos (Brazil) and Sergio Ruiz Suarez (Spain.) Together they will make a dance show, ‘Somebody’s Watching Me’, exploring the theme of ‘surveillance;’ imagining a dystopian future; we all live life under a lens – cameras follow our every move. This affects the Deaf Sign Language using community more than any other member of society or cultural group as Deaf BSL users are more exposed through surveillance as their language is able to be captured by CCTV, in a way that spoken language is not. Billy thinks Sign Language woven with dance is a powerful metaphor for exposing the unseen to the audience, therefore revealing the omnipresence of surveillance in the Information age. The dancers will show the ease with which silent communication can be rendered visible via cameras. Unable to ‘whisper,’ the Deaf have to develop new ways of communicating that doesn’t expose plans, conversations or a rebellion against those in control. The fear is the control of the Deaf community, by ‘authorities’ tracking their every conversation; translated and analysed by a group of experts, lurking behind the cameras. The narrative will be developed with a writer and director.   Cameras and live streaming will be used during the event to project ‘secret’ sections of dance into a public space. This “action” will reverse the concept of “Hearing Privilege” to an invited deaf audience, who as shared language users, will be privy to what is said by the dancers/characters.  It is planned that at the end of the performance all audiences will receive a link to a video of the secret footage. The video will have translation and the subtext of the dance show will be revealed for all to share on social media.   Benji Read, an urban dancer and photographer, will direct, & combine lens based media and dance, a writer will be found to develop dance story.

Sergio Ruiz Suarez (Spain)

Sergio Ruiz Suarez

Marcos Paulo (Brazil) is age: 28, has 10 years experience of the dance styles: Capoeira, Breaking, Hip Hop. Marcos is a talented street dancer whom has performed and toured with several companies in Brazil and for Circusfest 2014 joined Graeae Theatre Company in the UK for “Belonging” at the Roundhouse. Sergio Ruiz Suarez (Spain) is age: 29, has 10 years experience of dance styles: Hip Hop, Locking, Popping. Sergio is highly trained in the street dance styles and an experienced performer and teacher. Some of highlights include working with well-known commercial artists such as Nelly Furtado. Billy Read met Marcos Paulo and Sergio Ruiz Suarez at Clin d’Oeil Festival, Reims, France, in 2013. It is an international festival for Deaf creatives. They all share the same background in dance and are attracted to street dance because you don’t have to do formal training. Billy Read explains “I am a street dancer inspired by the highly visual styles of Michael Jackson. I’m a Michael Jackson Impersonator (because of being a huge fan) who followed and learnt about his dance moves. Michael Jackson was influenced by street dance, and he went on to influence modern street dance artists of today. There are no strict rules like there are in say Ballet, so everyone can dance and you find your own way, so for me as a deaf person wanting to dance; I was influenced by the style and the music.” Billy Read was twenty one when he started to dance, and like Sergio Ruiz Suarez and Marcos Paulo its easy to see why he find’s street dance liberating. Defining the oppression that draws a deaf person to street dance is a little more difficult. Billy Read asks, “Why are deaf people doing street dance more common than trained deaf dancers?” Billy has no difficulty in finding deaf dancers to dance with him in his company, “Def Motion” and for Unlimited Billy Read chose two out of eight Deaf street dancers from around the world. Following Billy Read’s collaboration with Giulia Marchetti who is trained in a popular Indian classical dance style; story and theme are now part of Billy Reads performance style. With this confidence Billy Read wants to deliver a new show with dancers with similar experience to himself, work 10 times harder, dance differently and consider and deliver every detail, so together we tell our story of oppression using dance.

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