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Exhibition exploring three decades of immersive theatre opens at UCLan’s PR1 Gallery

Posted on - 6th March, 2022 - 9:45am | Author - | Posted in - Arts, Preston City Centre, Things to Do in and around Preston, University campus, What's On in Preston
Flesh and Text has opened at UCLan’s PR1 Gallery Pic Bodies in Flight

A new exhibition celebrating three decades of immersive theatre has opened at UCLan’s PR1 Gallery. Flesh and Text features the work of Bodies in Flight, a pioneering immersive theatre company that has worked with communities across the world, including Preston.  

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Throughout its history Bodies in Flight has delivered collaborative performances which have put individuals from communities centre stage in environments from seaside towns to cities, galleries, and even gyms. The exhibition draws together still and moving images, alongside artefacts and commentary about the company’s work.

The company also shares a film preview of their newest performance work, Life Class, which features dancers from Preston’s Fever Dance Company and singers from the Preston People’s Choir, with a new soundscape from UCLan’s Dr Jon Aveyard. It was staged as part of the Lancashire Encounter Festival 2021 and explored how a chance meeting between two people at a community dance hall changed the course of their lives forever.

Life Class Pic Bodies in Flight

“The moment I saw the couples rehearsing in the space dancing and laughing I knew how special this performance would be. Not only telling such a heart-warming and touching story but also because it was the first live performance I saw after lockdown,” said Bodies in Flight intern Sophie-Leigh Barrow, who helped to organise the staging of Life Class in Preston. “I loved seeing the community cast of Fever Dance build their confidence and develop a sense of pride in their performance throughout the rehearsals. The performance brought a whole new level of joy, that I am glad I was able to experience.” 

Bodies in Flight is co-directed by the writer Professor Simon Jones and choreographer Dr Sara Giddens, who is also a Reader in Choreographic Practice on the BA (Hons) Dance Performance and Teaching course at UCLan.

Life Class has been staged in various guises since 2019. Each incarnation sees choreographer Sara working closely with dancers belonging to community tea dance groups.  Participants help to shape the textual and physical material, drawing upon their own experiences as they recall the romantic encounters they enjoyed at the social dances of their youth. They would often reflect on how those encounters had altered the trajectories of their lives. Every show culminates in a dance that audience members are invited to join in with, breaking down the divide between participants and spectators.  

Flesh and Text is on at PR1 Gallery, Victoria Building, UCLan, Preston, until Wednesday 9 March 2022. Admission is free.


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