Reflections on RUSH by Company Manager, Catherine Johns.
Our signature work, RUSH, is coming back – restaged for one night only in Blackpool on 26th October.
RUSH was first commissioned by the community in South Shields via The Cultural Spring – restaged last year for Freedom Festival in Hull, it now enters its third iteration. The characters change, depending on the location, but the story remains the same – 100+ community cast members perform alongside the Southpaw Company dancers surrounded by stunning projections, telling a story of ordinary people who find themselves under extraordinary pressure in the society we have created, frustrated, yet finding a voice, united in protest, and united in an exhilarating performance.
And it is literally life-changing – RUSH in Hull was my first experience of how Southpaw creates a space where all voices are valued, all are respected, where the boundaries and (frankly ridiculous) hierarchies around “art” and “community art” are swept away. All of Southpaw’s work challenges preconceived ideas of what dance should be, replacing them with what dance actually is – a spectacular, enthralling, yet very human joy in virtuosic movement to connect, entertain, inspire and catalyse. And I saw first hand how participation can catalyse action – “literally life-changing” is a direct quote from a community cast member (who also coined the word “SouthpAwesome”).
That ethos of openness and dedication to excellence has certainly inspired me in my other role as Innovation Director at Business Durham – realising how profoundly disconnected the vast majority of people are from the “shiny techie buildings” that characterise our innovation ecosystem, we are soon to launch the Innovation Crowd, which mirrors the Southpaw practice and applies it to solving problems which generates ideas for commercialisation and then supports them to market (i.e., innovation…).
Southpaw’s AD, Robby Graham, has created an extraordinary body of work in just a few short years and the future is an exciting one as we explore new technologies and new ways of creating and presenting work. But RUSH will always be something we come back to – “Childlike in wonder, romantic in revolt” is a direct quote from the show and that sentiment informs all our work.
RUSH isn’t a show you pop in to see if you happen to be in the area – it’s a show you make a trip to come and see.