Crossing the Divide focuses on cross-community work using dance with its physical, emotional, and cognitive demands as a tool to provide people with a safe environment to let go of fears and prejudices and begin to have contact with each other that is based on our common humanity. This approach has been successfully used in many different contexts, including those where participants are experiencing inter-community conflicts.
(Belfast 2011 – ongoing)
MERGE is a three year dance workshop and performance project that targets young unemployed people and young people (aged 14 to 24) living in inner city areas from diverse communities. MERGE utilises the creative arts as a tool for engaging these young people in stimulating and challenging activity; the project meshes youth culture with contemporary and urban dance/art forms
(Belfast 2012 – ongoing)
Following the company’s performance project eMERGEncy, (October 2011) and as a result of the evaluation process where the young people involved requested more contact with the company, DU Dance is supporting a cross-community youth dance group in Belfast. The company is providing regular classes and performance opportunities for the youth group, which is currently based at, and supported by the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast.
The pilot scheme of MERGE in 2011 actively involved 97 young people from inner city areas in Belfast, identified through project partners. The original project consisted of a 6 week intensive skill-based dance/music workshop programme, and 5 dance performances, eMERGEncy. The production integrated contemporary dance and street dance with skateboarding, bmx bikes, rap music and opera. The performances took place at Titanic Quarter’s T13 , as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen’s, to audiences of over 750 people. The Belfast Telegraph described the production was ‘impressive’ and a ‘visual feast’.
This festival is designed to give children under the age of 11 a chance to come together to perform and share work in a non-competitive environment. It is also a chance for the children to see professional dance in a theatre context and to meet the dancers involved. Working in partnership with Belfast Education & Library Board, this festival has now become an annual event and each year over 200 children aged 7-11 take part.
This longitudinal programme aims to widen access to dance and other art forms and to examine the impact creativity can have on the lives of young people living in the heart of a post-conflict society. The programme is multi-layered in nature and is underpinned by a strong element of research and evaluation. Working with 67 children from two schools in North Belfast over three years performances have included:
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Photography by Joe Fox ©DU Dance.