Scores of dancers ready for Easter spectacular

RUSH REHEARSALS: Dancers being put through their paces ahead of Sunday's performance.
RUSH REHEARSALS: Dancers being put through their paces ahead of Sunday's performance.
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THE stage is set for a host of Wearside dancers to impress this weekend.

After months of rehearsals, 150 performers are ready to take to the stage with Rush on Sunday.

The free show exploring how dance, music and writing can provide a voice to those who feel disengaged or disenfranchised from society, will be performed against the backdrop of the Engine House of St Hilda’s Colliery, South Shields, at 8.30pm.

As well as mass movement, the show features free running, a water cannon, coloured dust, and an armada of prams.

Rush is the latest commission from The Cultural Spring, a three-year Arts Council-funded initiative aiming to encourage and increase participation in the arts across 10 wards in Wearside and South Tyneside.

Rush is being produced and delivered by Durham-based Event International and Southpaw Dance Company.

I’ve talked to groups about issues affecting them directly and about the wider world. What problems they face and what they think they can do to change things.

Ellen Phethean, Rush writer

Robby Graham, artistic director of Southpaw, said: “Rush has three main characters – a homeless man, a young single mother and someone on a zero-hours contract.

“Through these recognisable characters, we explore how culture and the arts can serve to express frustrations in a positive way.

“What we’ve done is look at popular protests around the world and tried to channel the sense of empowerment and excitement they’ve generated, into something creative and expressive.”

Dancers have been rehearsing since January, with performers coming from Sunderland College, East Durham College, the University of Sunderland, Boldon Community Association and dance groups and other organisations from across Wearside and South Tyneside.

While the rehearsals have been taking place, writer Ellen Phethean has been working in the Cultural Spring communities to ensure the voices heard are authentic.

She said: “I’ve talked to groups about issues affecting them directly and about the wider world. What problems they face and what they think they can do to change things.”

Rebecca Ball, project director at The Cultural Spring, said: “Event International have a reputation for producing something different, and Rush is going to be something extra-special.

“We’re very excited to see what they and our communities have produced together.”