Dancing Days

Design by Neil Murray

‘Dancing Days’

Pathhead Hall Kirkcaldy, Fife  September/October 2013

The main aim of this project was to provide local elderly residents of Fife with opportunities to engage in the highest quality artistic processes and provide them with personal and social fulfilment.

39 people from the community were involved in the final presentation and another 40 were introduced to the ideas of Fife Performance Ensemble.

(c) David Wardle

Betty photo David Wardle

Feedback from participants was very positive.

When participants were asked to describe how taking part had affected them or made them feel the following words were used:

“Happier; Sociable; More Confident; More Relaxed; Good; Rekindled My Self Worth; Elated; Joy; Great; Very Happy”

When participants were asked what the best thing about taking part in the project the following words were used:

“Meeting New People; Socialising; Comradeship; Working Together; Brought Back Happy Memories; Making New Friends; Sharing With The Community; Friendship; Dancing.”

When participants were asked what they had learnt during the project the following words were used:

“Performing Skills; Learning New Things; Doing Something I Never Thought I Could A Great Deal; Rethinking Another Way Of Presenting A Piece Of Theatre; Learning To Do The Dance Well; To Be Encouraged.”

(c) David Wardle

Sandy and Betty photo David Wardle

During the project, staff from Fife Cultural Trust gained community arts work experience which strengthen future opportunities.

6 members of Fife Cultural Trust from Marketing, Customer Services and the Technical Departments were deeply involved in the process. They worked closely with Artistic Director and other members of the team to contribute fully to the process to the final performance.

(c) David Wardle

Sandy & Betty photo David Wardle

Next Stage

It is intended that this project will inform development of a new professional Touring Performance Ensemble involving older actors, which will perform throughout Scotland and further afield, within the United Kingdom and internationally.

A new performance company has been successfully constituted under the banner of Fife Cultural Trust. Since the performances, work has continued with a training programme led by a Senior Lecturer in Dance from Fife College in a process overseen by the Artistic Director of Fife Performance Ensemble to upgrade performance skills and knowledge. Planning is currently in place for the continued development of the ensemble ‘occupying the space between professional, community and amateur arts’ and making new work.

(c) David Wardle

Bob Christie photo David Wardle

In the long term the Fife Performance Ensemble Project aims to produce exciting multimedia work, inspired by and involving people aged 60 years and over. This will provide a positive platform for older artists, while at the same time creating opportunities for older people to have enhanced theatre-going opportunities through participation and availability of material that reflects their experiences and interests. 

(c) David Wardle

Plans include developing the collaboration with Luminate FestivalFife Cultural Trust and Fife College to run events throughout 2014 culminating in a new performance of a commissioned work in October 2014 as part of the Luminate Festival. This will include a summer school for older people at Fife College during the summer of 2014.

(c) David Wardle

Importantly, the Fife Performance Ensemble Project will aim to ensure that the approach to audience development will be inclusive and enable all generations to come together to share experiences. Training of younger artists to work with older people and their stories is a key aspect of the initiative. It is hoped that the collaborative experience will provide creative fulfilment, which will ultimately develop their passion and focus for this work in the longer term.

(c) David Wardle

Audiences attending the performances ranged from school aged children to people in their 90’s. 3 work placement training spaces for HND Technical Theatre students from Fife College was provided by the project allowing them to gain new skills in all aspects of developing and delivering a piece of community theatre making. Training for the older participants was also supported with the majority of the participants gaining a level 5 Production Process award from Fife College as an outcome of taking part in the project. Developing the training relationship offered by working with Fife College will be embedded in the future work of the Fife Performance Ensemble.

(c) David Wardle

The Fife Performance Ensemble Project took the first step in producing a multimedia piece of work that, at its heart was inspired by and involved people aged 60 years and over in every aspect of its creation and performance. The work provided a positive platform for older people and artists, creating opportunities for older people’s voices to be heard and valued.

(c) David Wardle

Importantly, the Fife Performance Ensemble Project enabled a new partnership to be developed between Fife Cultural Trust and Fife College offering opportunities for developing training outcomes for older people and students. It also allowed Fife Cultural Trust to widen its audience reach by providing a piece of theatre making that was embedded in a local community and brought together an inter-generational audience to experience what was created. It is hoped that the truly collaborative approach developed by the Fife Performance Ensemble will be used as an exemplar to inform similar work in the longer term.

(c) David Wardle

(c) David Wardle

(c) David Wardle