Community project to see young people create brand new curtain raiser
The five-star award-winning dance production 5 SOLDIERS – The Body is the Frontline will come to Aldershot this September. Audiences will have the chance to get ‘behind the wire’ and experience this thrilling show up close in a real Army barracks.
Fresh from its sell out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and performances in London in association with Sadler’s Wells, this powerful portrayal of military life by Rosie Kay Dance Company will be staged at the Canada House Boxing Centre, Rawlinson Road, Aldershot, on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 September. It is being presented in partnership with The West End Centre & Hampshire Cultural Trust.
The project also involves an eight-week tailor-made outreach programme to build new links between the military, the arts and local communities that will result in a brand new dance piece by local young people. There are still a few spaces left for young people who want to take part.
Both performances of 5 SOLDIERS will be followed by a panel discussion where the choreographer, dancers and local military will answer audience questions.
Aldershot Garrison Commander, Lt Col Nigel Macgregor, said: “If you’ve ever wanted to know who the men and women of today’s armed forces are, this show is for you. Rosie Kay, the talented choreographer of 5 SOLDIERS, has done her homework. The performance follows a group of soldiers through their basic training and operational deployment to tell a story that is fair, accurate and brutally honest in its depiction of this group’s rollercoaster journey. A professional dancer, Rosie’s commitment to her craft and her own experience with personal injury and the pain of recovery is clearly evident in this powerful performance. One not to be missed.”
The community outreach project will see locally-based freelance professional dance practitioner Hayley Barker to work with Rosie Kay Dance Company and then link up with young people in Aldershot to create a community performance that responds to the themes of 5 SOLDIERS. Participants will also receive Army drill training from the local regiment as part of their preparation for the performance.
Hayley said: “I love Rosie Kay’s work so really wanted to get involved with this. It’s a brilliant way to get young people interacting with the arts as part of a really unusual dance project.
“We will be making a piece inspired by the themes in 5 SOLDIERS – which is a story all about the people behind the uniforms. It’s really appropriate for Aldershot because this area has such a strong military tradition.”
The young people will put on their performance as a curtain raiser for 5 SOLDIERS on the Saturday evening.
5 SOLDIERS is a gritty, honest and acutely observed dance work that follows four young men and one woman as they are trained and then deployed in a war zone. It is a visceral tour de force with a powerful physicality, moments of humour and is full of honesty – all inspired by input from serving and former soldiers.
Military audiences have applauded how well it reflects their experiences, their passion for their work and the risks they face. It weaves a story of physical transformation, helping us to appreciate what makes a soldier and how warfare affects those who put their life on the line.
5 SOLDIERS is in Aldershot during a national tour which is part of a broader initiative by the Army to engage with the public through the arts.
Major Jo Young, the Army’s officer for the arts has organised a range of festivals, photographic exhibitions and performance to build networks between the service community and the wider population.
She said: “Many people simply don’t have connections with the Army in the way they used to. The arts are a way we can engage in new and different conversations with those who rarely meet soldiers in their day-to-day life. Through initiatives like the 5 SOLDIERS tour, we can talk to them about issues we are all interested in like diversity and inclusiveness. We firmly believe that as society’s army we should reflect the society we serve.”
5 SOLDIERS was first toured in 2010-11 and was created by choreographer Rosie Kay after intensive research, including spending time with The 4th Battalion The Rifles. All the cast have experienced military training as part of their research and to prepare for this dynamic interpretation of Army life.
Kay said: “We are thrilled to be bringing 5 SOLDIERS to Aldershot with the support of the Army. It has been a labour of love over several years for me and the cast, gaining access, insight and experience; giving us a unique understanding that helps us portray the extraordinary lives of people in the military.
“We really try to humanise their story; we want the audience to empathise and to feel a visceral connection to our characters. We’ve been struck by how this work directly communicates with soldiers, officers and military families, but also with people who have no connection to the military, and even with peace activists. This is truly a humanistic portrayal of war; complex, nuanced, uncomfortable-yes, but overall, impassioned and truthful.
“Just as important is that the Army recognising that the arts are an effective way to build links with sections of the community and open up discussions about its role in today’s world.”