RUSH is a mass movement spectacular choreographed by Southpaw Dance Company and produced by Event International, with large format video and projection mapping by NOVAK. It was first performed outdoors at St. Hilda’s Colliery, South Shields on Sunday 5th April 2015. It featured 100 local participants alongside a small cast of professional dancers. RUSH was created in response to a commission from The Cultural Spring, the Creative People and Places programme for Sunderland and South Tyneside, and is now available as a site responsive touring project with additional content and local participants drawn from the host community.
RUSH is socially and politically engaged. It takes its inspiration from a 21st Century phenomenon: all over the planet people have shown their dissatisfaction with prevailing conditions by taking to the streets to protest. Mass action has become a staple of the TV news – from the first, peaceful demonstrations of the Arab Spring, to ordinary Brazilians protesting at the waste and extravagance of the FIFA World Cup, to students and young people in Hong Kong demanding democratic rights. Even in a fully-fledged democracy many people feel that their voices aren’t listened to. Developed with people living through a time of Austerity, RUSH identifies 3 key characters – a young mother, a homeless man and a worker on a zero hours contract - to explore grievances, tell the stories that matter, and ultimately to celebrate community and collective action in a huge release of energy and creativity. Striking video sequences provide an epic backdrop to a massive performance.
This is what members of the public said about RUSH:
“It was clever, accessible and different. I loved the John Lennon Working Class Hero section and thought the bit with dancers and sleeping bags was beautiful - the lady next to me was in tears. The pace of the whole thing, and the energy, was so impressive, I couldn’t believe they weren’t all professional performers.” (Martin Wood from Newcastle, quoted in The Journal, April 8)
“I just loved it – the energy, the music, the colour, the whole thing was great and right here on our doorstep. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it’s so important that we have performances like this in Shields. I can’t believe it was free – I’d have paid to see it.” (Anne Simpson from South Shields, quoted in The Journal, April 8)
“I’d seen it advertised, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. It blew me away. I was really moved by it. I loved the different sections and the stories being told.” (Gail Smith from Sunderland, quoted in Sunderland Echo, April 7)
I just wanted to say how brilliant the concept and writing and dancing and production and directing was for the brave Rush dance event recently, which my grandchildren ages 10 and 13, along with myself and my daughter, thought was brilliant and exciting. We hope there will be a video online for everyone to get the opportunity to see that enterprising event, critical of our society, for all those who missed it. Thank you to all the performers and organisers for the experience. From a red-powder-faced member of the audience! ( Vicki Gilbert, by e-mail, letters page Shields Gazette, April 14)
And on social media:
“ Amazing community engaged performance of Rush in South Shields tonight. #political #genuine #engaging Oustanding!!!” Anthony Baker, @great_up_north
“ Fabulous show relevant #onthepulseWell Done!” Fertile Ground, @fertilegroundNE
“Never walked away from a project so inspired and full of love. Huge respect to the guys from @SouthpawCompany it’s been truly amazing” Jessica Furniss, @JessicaaFurniss
And some Participants’ Feedback:
“This was a fantastic experience. The quality of the: teaching, choreography and production was just fantastic. And, to perform live outside in front of an audience was incredible. A huge privilege.”
“It was very exciting and different to anything I've done before, the whole experience was amazing and enjoyable.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. The final event was amazing. I wanted to do it all again as it was so soon!”
“Absolutely one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Wish I could do it again.”
“Such an amazing, inspirational and exciting event to be a part of. Rehearsals were physically demanding but it paid off in the final show. I want to do it again.”
Choreography: Robby Graham & Benjamin Shepherd, Visuals and Projection Mapping: Novak, Producer: Event International.
Cast - Ben Shepherd, Katie Webster, Rachel Birch, Nathan French, John Kendall, Catherine Muckle, with dancers from Sunderland College, Sunderland University, Mortimer Community College, Boldon Community Association, Customs Space, East Durham College, The Garage Urban Styles. Free-runners from Apeuros
Writer: Ellen Phethean, Sound Recordist & Editing: Ed Carter, Production Management: DA Technical, Safety Management: DGB Events. Promo clip by Darren O' Kane.