Last week, and indeed many weeks running up to it, I was project managing Donkeyskin. This was a really unusual performance.

THEATRE IS… and Gateway Learning Community are part of the ACT network, bringing together English and French arts organisations and schools to encourage cultural exchange and exciting new performances.

For this project Gateway, Southend YMCA, Royal Opera House Thurrock and ECO – a French dance company came together.

Donkeyskin was originally Peu D’Ane, a dance developed by ECO based on a French fairy tale. The English students watched this and then working with ROH and THEATRE IS… practitioners for two hours a week over ten weeks, developed their response to it. This entailed learning contemporary dance for some of the students.

Then last week all of the groups came together for the first time for an intensive week of rehearsals. The students even learnt a piece of the professional dance.

On Friday there was a performance which included the young people’s work and the professionals dancing.

I managed the entire project and then on the Friday night I was compere and Stage Manger. It was a highly challenging event, even with a translator there is often cultural misunderstandings, which need to be put right! But for the students it was a life changing experience, they learnt so many transferable skills, built their confidence and some of them now want to be dancers.

For me, this is a highly successful outcome!  Today I am going back to the school to help the young people complete the final part of their Bronze Arts Award!


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