Billy Read

Following Billy Read’s Unlimited R & D Commission Somebody’s Watching Me in 2017. Billy Read is seeking funding in 2018 to develop a second stage of R & D titled, Sign Criminal at Friction Arts, Birmingham.

Sign Criminal R & D by Billy Read

Billy Read is a Deaf street dancer awarded an Unlimited International Collaboration R&D Commission in 2017. It was a highly ambitious activity delivering a startling performance for Deaf and hearing audiences. This proposal to R&D a new dance work will action the findings and recommendations of the evaluation of the Unlimited Commission and enable Billy Read to demonstrate artistic leadership, explore use of drone technology, to take on role of choreographer and writer; to blend dance and sign language together to tell a love story about a dystopian future.

Billy Read Biography

In 2011 Billy Read founded the deaf dance crew Def Motion. By 2013 the company was dancing at CLIN D’OEIL The European Deaf Arts Festival in Reims, France. In 2014 Billy Read began to work with Opera Circus and was a  collaborating artist for 4 years on  “The Complete Freedom of Truth” project, where he taught dance and created performances with young people from 7 European countries.

Billy’s interest in making dance shows that deal with oppression and appeal to young audiences is informed by this work. In September 2015, he made a new street dance show involving 30 people for the Birmingham Weekender Festival. Billy has a strong network of International Deaf Promotors and regularly works abroad, and collaborates with deaf dancers. In the same year, he made new work with Antoine Hunter of Urban Jazz Company in the USA and presented new work at The Bay Area Deaf Dance Festival.  In recognition of the disparity of opportunity for deaf people in the mainstream, he supports emerging deaf dancers here in Uk and abroad. In 2016, Billy Read received Arts Council funding to collaborate with Giulia Marchetti who is based in Italy and is trained in a popular Indian classical dance style. The twenty-minute dance show was promoted to Deaf Indian and Pakistani audiences and young people. “Like Mirabai”  used British Sign Language to tell a story and fused Indian dance with street dance. In 2017 Billy Read received an UNLIMITED International R&D award, that was produced by mac Birmingham and Deaf Explorer. It was a collaboration with Hong Kong-based Street Dancer Ariel Fung.

Project Description of second phase of R & D

R&D a dance theatre show set in a dystopian future.  Billy will reveal the vulnerability of Deaf sign language users as a result of advances in technology and surveillance. The theme of oppression of a poorly understood minority culture will be explored in a love story aimed at young audiences in the hope they identify with the plight of the Deaf community. Consistently, during each week of the R&D,  Billy will work for one day in the studio with Street Dancer Nathan Marsh to refine his dance style. The aim is that over the course of the R&D Billy takes on the teachings of a street dancer and becomes a confident street dance choreographer so he can bring the physicality and nuance of Street dance into his work that will blend story, sign language, & lens based digital media. Billy will use the structure of regular weekly sessions with Nathan Marsh to plan sessions with creative people; beginning with writers including young playwright Naomi Westerman, who will be complemented by Deaf dramaturge Mathew Gurney ( Theatre Ad Infinitum.) Working with deaf film-maker Rinkoo Barpaga using Drone, Billy will devise dance pieces using roving surveillance cameras and stream interactive videos to Deaf dancers. Billy wants to work with Deaf dancers from England & Europe and will use his story to audition & cast dancers.  The end of the R&D will see Billy Read as artistic director equipped with the basis of a new form of dance and ready for collaboration with Taiko drummer Nao Masuda.

Professional Development of Billy Read

Jo Carr, Theatre Programmer at mac said of  “Somebody’s Watching Me” that there were two shows emerging out of the UNLIMITED R&D and both really strong.  Using Deaf oppression as a metaphor for surveillance and social control in the future takes a contemporary theme and makes a unique story that is both personal and political. The second stage of R&D will provide Billy Read with an opportunity to take more risks, gain more choice and control and take on greater responsibility for the artistic outcome.  Billy will be at the forefront of the artistic process. To do this Billy has planned the activity in a different way to the Unlimited R&D with more time for Billy to work 1 to 1 with artists.  Billy wants to gain skills and feel confident that he can meet the requirements of an artistic leader on a project on the scale of “Somebody’s Watching Me”.  To do this Billy wants to equip himself for the task of leadership by developing all the choreography.  In the second phase of the R & D Billy’s artistic goal is to use dance as the pivotal art form so his skill base is at the centre of the creative process, enabling him to demonstrate his artistic leadership. In addition, Billy wants the story, sign language and digital media to be pinned to the choreography, blending the art forms in a new way for dance audiences that is able to challenge the dance art form, making a signature project that will transform thinking in the dance sector about deafness and use of BSL.

The artists that Billy Read hopes will engage in the R & D

Throughout process Billy Read will work in studio with Street Dance Teacher Nathan Marsh as an anchor & mentor, using the days with Nathan to maximise the creative impact of working 1 to 1 with artists. He will spend mornings with Nathan and afternoons with invited artists. Studio time will workshop ideas,  making the R&D practise based, rather than discussion based;  a learning from the UNLIMITED R&D.   Billy will recruit & choreograph hip-hop dancers and develop his story by inviting to the studio former Deafinitely Theatre writer Andrew Muir, young playwright Naomi Westerman (Graeae Write to Play), & Deaf writer Charlie Swinbourne.  Billy will blend BSL with dance using dramaturge by Matty Gurney (of Theatre Ad Infinitum) & Darrel Jackson (Ramps on the Moon) Nathan will be an external eye supporting Billy Read to make dance central, because after the story complete, Billy will audition Deaf dancers Hearns Sebuado, Donna Mullings, Kassandra Wedel casting them for key roles & scenes in story. After the auditions, Billy will collaborate with Nao Masuda bringing her unique style of visual music into the dance process. Together they will create dance pieces for drones decked with CCTV cameras that will be streamed to the global deaf dance community for feedback about the use of International sign language.  R&D will end with a presentation for deaf young people, industry experts,  promotors & British Council, aiming to gain partnership for production & tour.

How we will Billy Read reach audiences with his R & D

Billy Read will work with Deaf Explorer to maximise their networks in Birmingham and West Midlands to involve young Deaf people as audiences for his R&D, with time slots for performances that enable young Deaf people to attend. This includes Percy Shermer School where Billy runs workshops. Deaf Explorer will involve: BID Services provision for young Deaf people (three staff from BID Services attended Billy’s most recent show) Deaf World a provision for deaf people age between 12 and 24 in Sandwell and Birmingham. Braidwood Trust School for the Deaf,  (14 – 16-year-olds studying creative arts) Walsall College BTEC performing arts course where Billy provides a role model.  Billy will involve the International Deaf Dance Community as audiences using streaming technology; Kassandra Wedel (Hamburg), Jason Wong of Fun Forest (Hong Kong), Antoine Hunter (USA), Marcus Paulos (Brazil) Sergio Ruiz Suarez (Spain) Limit Break (Japan) Nicholaus Nero (India)  This audience development work aims to give greater context to Billy’s International ambition by demonstrating interest by Deaf audiences.) This will give context to the development of international touring and build on the investment of Billy’s Unlimited R&D International Commission. Deaf Explorer will promote R & D to Deda (Derby), Dadafest, Yorkshire Dance & regional commissioners Birmingham Dance Hub and Coventry City of Culture.

Please contact Deaf Explorer if you are interested in supporting Billy Read’s second stage of R & D.