I am trapped. On a crammed bus, between two hysterical, bra-less transvestites, a blind sweet seller and a very hairy man in speedos. This is not the start of a none-pc joke but my first experience of Salvador Bahia. My name is Claire and I am a 31 year old Arts Manager and dancer from deepest, darkest Oldham. (England) I have come alone to Salvador (Bahia) for 5 weeks to begin a journey of artistic discovery.
I am the Education and Participation Manager for Peshkar Productions; a multimedia arts charity that provides artistic opportunities to support young people that are deemed disadvantaged. Peshkar’s work is primarily based in Oldham and the North West of England but we also work nationally and internationally. Our last international project was a very successful research and exchange project in 2011 which explored the lives of those affected by the flooding in Bangladesh. This research led to the creation of a partnership theatre production with Red Ladder http://www.redladder.co.uk called ‘Nor Any Drop’ which toured across North West schools. Creative workshops were facilitated in 10 schools across Southwark, London and multimedia material was then turned into a professional piece of theatre called ‘Small Fish Big Cheese’ performed at The Unicorn Theatre London. https://www.unicorntheatre.com/
Our next international project will focus on Salvador Bahia in Brazil. The country is receiving large amounts of media attention for its economic growth and two impending sporting events. Fascinating though this is, our focus is not to jump on this bandwagon or comment on Brazils social, economic or political issues. We are here to explore Salvador`s artistic engagement via a deeper connection to the country from an artistic, professional and personal point of view. We are here to research and find out about arts organisations (big and small) and who they engage with; to explore what the term ‘disadvantaged` actually means here and what artistic tools have been effective in supporting these participants. We are keen to learn but to also share positive experiences and engagement techniques we have discovered to be successful and to offer them as a means of support. We hope to create meaningful connections that may lead to artist and young people’s exchange opportunities in the future.
We will strengthen our organisation with this experience but will also will share our experiences, our learning, our knowledge and our connections with the UK and beyond. We hope to provide useful and inspiring information for young people, artists, organisations and the wider arts and charity sector.
Peshkar always ensures that the artists or facilitators completing a project are passionate and dedicated to the theme, which is why it is `I` that found myself on the crowded bus to Salvador. I have been studying Brazilian dance for over 8 years and have led and been involved in many wonderful projects thanks to a thriving percussion and dance ‘scene’ that has developed in the UK through inspiring and dedicated tutors. After a car crash in December 2012 which left my pelvis and back damaged, my dance involvement has been limited and the only exercise I have really done is to make constant cups of tea in a failed attempt to ignore and silence my body’s desire to dance again.
A year later and the time has to come to dust off the hypothetical leotard. After taking part in an incredible `Silvestre Technique’ http://www.silvestretraining.com workshop hosted by Hilde Cannoodt http://www.hildebellydance.co.uk/ I decided that a month intensive bootcamp dance training was what I needed to liberate my body and my creativity.
So here I am. I have some knowledge of this vast countries cultural offerings, and I spent 5 weeks here in 2010. I can speak a little Portuguese but it seems to be getting worse daily and today I asked someone for a `small kitchen` instead of a ‘cup.’ I am about to put myself through an average of 7 hours dance training a day for 1 month when at the moment I can barely make that cup of tea without getting out of breathe. I am living in a tiny, one room apartment with a stranger I connected with on Facebook and the professional expectations are great. In reality; I don’t have any support here nor do I have much time in between training. I do have a very support team back in the UK however and I must thank Peoples Palace Projects http://www.peoplespalaceprojects.org.uk who have been a great support to Peshkar and who bravely carved the way `back in the day’ to enabling these exchange possibilities to happen between Brazil and the UK.