Billy Read will co-create with young deaf and hearing people. He will make a dance show that tells a story that aims to improve community cohesion and reduce isolation due to language and communication barriers.
The project will have three phases; all phases will be open to hearing people and Billy will use BSL interpreters throughout the process to provide access for hearing participants. This includes siblings, who Billy anticipates attending in phase two and three. The first phase will be an opportunity for young deaf people to participate. During this phase, Billy Read and Ariel Fung will run two workshops, one with the group age 8 – 14 and one with the group age between 14 and 18.
The second phase will be an opportunity for the young people to move from participants to co-creators. In phase two, young people can write, tell stories, use sign language and choreograph movement. The offer for young Deaf people will be amazing. To use dance to bring hearing and deaf audiences together. The hope is that the excitement around Rose Asyling Ellis, the Deaf actress from Eastenders currently on Strictly Come Dancing, and national coverage of Deaf Men Dancing will encourage deaf young people to perform publicly to hearing audiences.
During Lockdown, Billy encouraged physical activity amongst Deaf young people by making online dance tutorials. Billy aims to bring this experience to the project and encourage deaf young people to build their fitness and stamina to dance in the performance.
The aim is to build confidence and self-esteem amongst deaf young people, who over the last 18 months have experienced language deprivation and isolation.
Billy and his team of dancers are excellent role models for deaf young people and will improve mental wellbeing amongst deaf young people.
Phase three will be the creation and touring of the new outdoor work through liaison with BID Services and Deaf Cultural Centre, where there will be a performance for Deaf Community and also at Braidwood School where there will performance for pupils and parents. Billy will also contact mac and the Birmingham Hippodrome for bookings of outdoor events during the Cultural Festival.
Billy has previously worked in Europe with Opera Circus. Billy was part of the artistic team delivering the Complete Freedom of Truth. Billy made dance work about oppression with young people. Billy aims to find a narrative that is relevant to the young people in Birmingham during the Commonwealth Games.
In November 2019 Billy Read spent a week co-creating at Knotty Ash Primary School with a deaf group of children and a hearing group of children. The hope is that participants will have a fantastic journey into what is possible using dance.
Rinkoo Barpaga Chair of Deaf Explorer says, “I am very impressed with Billy Read. The story is definitely so unique. The mix of storytelling and dancing are really interesting. Also, I could see the younger audiences really enjoy it. This is a new generation of Deaf people who were interesting in music and dancing.”
Sonny Nwachukwu, dancer and choreographer said, “I truly believe that the dance show appealed to young Deaf people, I looked around and saw the smiles, the interest and the eagerness from everyone but especially the youngen’s. It actually got me really emotional at one stage as I saw the inspiration and role modeling.”
Young People will attend dance workshops, and after the dance workshop they will learn how Billy Read tells stories using a blend of sign language, visual vernacular and movement. Billy will then support young people to tell their own stories using his style of dance theatre-making.
Billy Read’s artistic practice has an astonishing impact on young people. For example, Billy Read and Ariel Fung worked for a week with looked after young people in Stoke on Trent with remarkable results. They also worked with young people with complex needs in Doncaster. Each week-long residency results in a dance performance. Kath Sweeney from Knotty Ash primary went on to say, “The whole week was an incredible success, true inclusion at its very best. I must tell you that nearly all of the children you worked with went on to create their own dance piece for the school talent show – the staff were amazed at how the children were able to transfer the skills they had learnt from you to choreograph their own piece.
Thank you all so very much for a transformational week – we will remember it for many years to come and would love to stay in touch in the future.”