The Cilia Dance

The Cilia Dance is a high impact, movement piece co-created & performed by local people. It is inspired by Covid19 & the climate crisis; respiratory illness & air pollution; transport & lockdown; community & empathy; choice & behaviour change & Pina Bausch’s Nelken Line. 

It is our first piece without bicycles & aims, with the urgency of the climate emergency & need for greater sustainability, to more directly encourage transport behaviour change. Transport is now the greatest contributor to greenhouse gases in the UK.  Carbon reductions so far have averaged 0.1%, over the last 30 years, but 17-30% is needed to reach net zero. This sounds huge, but more car journeys are very short – 40% under 2 miles – so how else can we get around?

The piece is conceived as an ambitious experiment in holding a ‘conversation’ about the impact of transport on our lives. Exchanging ideas about how we get around our towns & cities, using the language of movement instead of words; a playful, fun, collaborative & empathic exchange, & invitation to dance in each other’s shoes.

Cilia are microscopic, hair-like structures on the body’s cells, especially the respiratory tract & lungs, in clusters, lines & individually. They are primordial & rhythmic, moving to keep airways clear, allowing us to breathe without irritation. Cilia offer form, rhythm & structure to the overall piece, with a rhythmical walking pattern combined with movements created by participants.

Performers move in lines & clusters, dancing looped sequences that describe, epitomise & reflect how they move around the city: scooting, skating, walking, running, cycling, driving, riding….  Sharing, exchanging, re-creating & re-forming sequences, moving along a route.

Watch a short film of the pilot performance in Brighton for Car Free Day & the city’s build up to COP26.

Participant feedback indicated that 60% had changed the way they thought about moving around the city.

Here’s an informal presentation about some of the ideas behind The Cilia Dance at the Out There Arts Festival 2021, & a BBC Radio Sussex interview (from 2.38) on the morning of the show

Future Development – our next step is to build on the pilot & re-examine all aspects to evolve the piece. Our ambition is to deliver a cutting edge & affordable community engagement product & high impact outdoor arts performance that engages, entertains & encourages people to choose alternative forms of travel for short journeys, & travel more actively in general.

The Cilia Dance Creative Team includes: Performers, local participants; Choreographer Ella Fleetwood, mentored by Virginia Farman; Sound Design Barry Han with tracks from Tru Thoughts record label; led by Artistic Director, Karen Poley.  Commissioned by Brighton & Hove City Council.

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