Performance

GEMARTS EAST BY NORTH EAST PT2

East by North East is a Youth Music funded project led by GemArts, providing opportunities for young people from diverse communities to come together and make music.  The project has already enabled over 190 young people to develop and share their compositions and performance skills in a wide range of genres, while addressing issues relevant to their lives, developing life skills and achieving Arts Award.

In addition, GemArts has further diversified the workforce of music practitioners, and East by North East offers training and development to ensure that creativity and diversity is thriving in the North East!

To celebrate the project we’ve asked some of our music leaders to share their thoughts on East by North East, their own development, and the groups they worked with. Read on for our second blog post.

GemArts East by North East Blog by Izzy Finch, Music Leader 

In 2016 I became one of the musicians for the GemArts project East by North East (EbNE), working with young women aged 13-16 from the Czech and Roma communities in the West End of Newcastle. When we first began our weekly sessions at CHAT Trust, the group were shy and their conversational English was emerging. This meant that, without interpreters at the sessions, we initially found communication problematic with regard to expectations and outcomes for the project.

Over the course of the year, we began exploring different genres of music and the girls began singing. This developed into rapping and gradually evolved into writing their own material and performing locally in both their heritage language and in English. Some of the issues we encountered early on included communication barriers, low self-esteem, social and gender related tensions and even tensions between our project and the perceptions of the school the young women attended.

There was one session where one of the young women told me that she had fallen behind with homework and was struggling at school. Having recently discovered that she was unable to read or write I had wondered how she would be managing at school and if she was accessing support. We stayed behind and worked on some of her assignments and discussed things she could ask her teachers about. This was a significant moment for me, in helping me to appreciate how a safe, creative space enabled the development of BAMER women who joined our project completely unable or unwilling to engage with seemingly inaccessible tasks or assignments that demanded a grasp of English to writing and performing original material and developing their ability to articulate their hopes, fears and aspirations within the group. Without the support of interpreting staff, the two factors that played the most significant role in empowering the young women were trust and time. By the time the project drew to a close, all of the young people were demonstrating engagement and the ability to take creative risks.

17553924_10154549287012613_8637290395246012482_n[1]Young women take part in a session at CHAT Trust

Forming a band and attending regular rehearsal and workshops was challenging for the group at first as it required commitment, determination and practice. All the young women obtained their bronze Arts Award which was a huge achievement and for many, their first experience of achieving any form of accreditation.

17757355_10154549286992613_7043715450843202856_n[1]Young people at CHAT Trust achieve their Bronze Arts Awards

The final celebration event took place at Sage Gateshead, and was a vibrant celebration involving participants from a wide representation of heritage and culture across the EBNE projects in the city.

This project serves as a good example of how, as defined in The Creative Case for Diversity, “experimentation leads to changes.” In offering young people the chance to express themselves in an inclusive space, and by using this experience to initiate creativity and original compositions, we learned that all of the participants experienced feelings of enhanced self-esteem and of a future where they had skills and strengths they didn’t know existed. “ Now I know girls can rap just as good as the boys. I didn’t think I could write a song that would sound good. I’m always going to love performing now.” –  Vanessa

In 2005, I had been invited to join a refugee integration project based in Newcastle. Mongrel UK was issue-based music and theatre exploring concepts of identity, migration and social justice. I was a 13 year old participant, yet I felt was being nurtured and mentored by strong female role models. I feel I was one of the first people to experience the grassroots evolution from participant to practitioner. Many of my professional values were shaped at that time and I feel that I experienced first-hand what a positive impact involvement in projects like EBNE can have on a young person. I have this experience at the forefront of my practice with all of the groups I work with, particularly young BAMER women, with whom I have an affinity.

LTC Performance 1000px

Life Transformation Church band perform at EbNE celebration event at Sage Gateshead

It is clear that the experience of the young person is at the centre of the project when GemArts initiates a project like this one, but what isn’t that obvious on the surface is how the journey of arts practitioners is equally important. We are actively encouraged to reflect upon and document our own learning and journey. My learning and observations have been centred around the themes of culture, heritage, gender, perception and diversity. Although my musical knowledge and experience is clearly valued, there is a finer less tangible aspect to projects like EBNE that is centred around celebrating and promoting not only the diversity that exists within communities but also that within the practitioners who are matched to deliver the programmes.

Gem Arts partner musicians who have different but compatible strengths. Working relationships must evolve to make the most of competencies and skills we have between us and what this ultimately brings to the workforce is adaptive resilience. There have been occasions where I have felt that my co-workers have had a stronger skill set for a specific young person or circumstance, but there is always the opportunity for me to support and restore the balance within another situation.

I am so proud of the individual journeys of self-expression as well as the incredible creative outcomes that demonstrate how valuable projects like East by North East are. Beyond the creative and musical end products, we have opportunities to develop self-belief, affirmation of cultural identity and values and on a very basic level… happiness!

Gem Arts develop and build pride in identity in often marginalised groups within the North East. On a personal level, my involvement in this project has made me realise how passionate I feel about working with young women; confronting and challenging negative cultural stereotypes.

If you are interested in the project please contact GemArts – info@gemarts.org

Izzy Finch, EBNE Music Leader

Watch our East by North East 2017 film here

GemArts East by North East 2017 from GemArts on Vimeo.

 

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Merry Christmas and a look back at a great 2016

Merry Christmas

One of the things I enjoy most in December is looking back over the previous 12 months, being reminded of the wonderful artists, communities, volunteers and organisations GemArts has worked with, and the generous donors and funders who supported our work in so many ways this year.

In 2016 we continued to showcase the best and brightest talent across the arts, while championing creativity and diversity, and always ensuring our artists received the support and profile they deserved. GemArts’ audiences were given access to unique cultural experiences, with people of all ages and backgrounds given opportunities to enjoy and make exceptional music, dance and art, while developing new skills and building confidence along the way. In a year that made many people feel disconnected and alone, we brought people together, and showed what a fantastic and diverse community of people live in the North East.

This year we strengthened relationships and developed new partnerships, allowing GemArts’ performance programme and participatory projects to have further impact across the region and beyond, and our hate crime awareness raising work won us a national award. We’ve picked just a few of our highlights from 2016, and I’m sure you will have your own favourites.
 
On behalf of the GemArts team and GVEMSG, I would like to  thank you for your continued support, and wish you a very merry Christmas, and all the best for a happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Best wishes and see you in 2017.
 
Vikas Kumar

Director, GemArts

GemArts Masala Festival Mini Mela Magic Fish banners crowd photo Anna Miller Thank you Feel Good Group glass work  Image by Anna Miller.jpg

Masala Festival – Our brand new week-long festival launched in July, with a mix and blend of the very finest South Asian arts and culture. We couldn’t have done it without the fantastic artists, audiences, participants, volunteers, donors, funders and partners who helped ensure Masala Festival was a huge success. The festival returns on the 17th July 2017, more information coming soon!

Catalyst Evolve – A successful application to Arts Council England’s Catalyst Evolve fund saw us continue to lead a consortium with two Gateshead Arts charities (Equal Arts and The Lawnmowers). This also means we can match your generous donations £1 for £1! Help GemArts deliver life enhancing projects for disadvantaged communities by donating what you can here.

Health and Wellbeing: Feel Good Group – Our Women’s Group brings together women from diverse communities, and this year they have worked with glass artist Effie Burns. They have been busy developing new creative skills to create unique, high quality glass artworks, whilst sharing experiences and developing support networks to tackle isolation and improve health and wellbeing. The women raised a whopping £130 for their project at their first craft fair in December!  

East by North East – Throughout the year our Youth Music funded project offered music making opportunities to more than 130 young people each week. Young participants have really wowed us with their talent and dedication to the project. With new artists also joining the cohort, the last 12 months have truly strengthened the rich offer for music leaders and those they work with in Newcastle. 

Arun Ghosh workshops and performance – In April pupils from Roman Road Primary school were given the chance of a lifetime when they spent three days with international Jazz clarinettist Arun Ghosh, creating three new pieces which they performed at the opening of Sage Gateshead’s International Jazz Festival 2016. Mini Melas – Between February and October we packed in not one, not two but THREE Mini Melas, bringing free family arts activity to Gateshead, Newcastle and Durham. In total over 900 children and their families visited us at a Mini Mela in 2016, taking part in arts activity from all around the world.

WILD WOOL at The Late Shows – We were delighted to present a fantastic new co-commission with Apple Yang’s Appetite Dance Productions at the 10th Anniversary of The Late Shows in May. You can catch Apple Yang: WILD WOOL in all its glory at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in 2017.

Trimfest – Not content introducing one new festival last year, GemArts also helped bring a brand new festival offering to East Durham in October. Working with Trimdon Parish Council we brought exciting, culturally diverse performances and workshops to audiences in Trimdon. 

Khyal: Music and Imagination – We took our work with Durham University to a new level with this fantastic project, building on academic research into the ways in how we experience and imagine classical Indian performance, using insights to generate new kinds of engagement and creativity. A beautiful exhibition, on display in November, showcased the stunning new work created by artists and local school pupils, as well as an innovative new iPad app.

 

Sign up to GemArts’ monthly e-newsletter here to be the first to find out about our fantastic new Spring Summer 2017 season.

Khyal Music and Imagination exhibition

Visit our stunning new Khyal Music and Imagination exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, on display until the 16th November 2016. Part of an exciting project we collaborated with Durham University on, you can also try an innovative new iPad app which was developed as part of the project. Find out more here.

khyal-laing-exhibition-poster-full-size

Vaisakhi Festival Celebrations

This year Vaisakhi falls on Wednesday 13th April, and later that month GemArts and Gateshead Visible Ethnic Minorities Support Group host their annual celebrations at Gateshead Civic Centre on Saturday 23rd April, marking this special date in the Sikh calendar. (Call 0191 440 4124 or email info@gemarts.org to book your tickets)

Vaisakhi is a long established harvest festival in Punjab.  It falls on either the 13th or 14th April every year. Vaisakhi is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating Khalsa, and it marks the Sikh New Year.  It is also observed with different significance attached to it in different parts of India.

Vaisakhi in Sikhism

Vaisakhi is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for the Sikh community.  It is one of the holiest days in Sikhism, commemorating KHALSA, the establishment of the Sikh religion. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of the Sikh founded the Khalsa at the Vaisakhi gathering is 1699 at Anandpur. Guru Gobind Singh had arranged for followers from all over India to meet him at the Vaisahki fair in Anandpur.  He asked for five people to come forward who were willing to die for their religion. After the prayers he sprinkled AMRIT – water with sugar (strength must always be balanced by sweetness of temperament) and stirred with a steel sword (symbolising the need for strength). He declared them to be the first members of a new community of equals, to be called Khalsa, meaning pure. They will dedicate their lives to the service of others and the pursuit of justice for people of all faiths.  These five people were called the PANJ PYARE, and were asked to wear five distinctive symbols of their new identity, the five ‘k’s and a turban.

  1.  Kesh (long uncut hair) – The long uncut hair symbolises chivalry, saintness and courage.
  2.  Khanga (comb)- It is needed to keep the long hair set and tidy, symbolises cleanliness.
  3.  Kirpan (sword)-A sword is a symbol for royalty and knighthood
  4.  Kara (iron bracelet)-Symbol of everlasting love for God. It is round like a ring and therefore no beginning or end.
  5.  Kachera (underwear)-Specially tailored shorts and symbolises purity and restraint.

TURBAN: The turban has great significance in Sikhism. Apart from looking smart and handsome, it is considered the CROWN of a Sikh. It is true to say that without a turban there is no Kaur or Singh just as without a crown there is no king or queen.

To end social divisions, the Panj Pyara’s surnames were removed by the Guru, mainly because surnames were associated with ones cast – the Guru gave them (and all Sikh men) the name SINGH, meaning the “lion”, a reminder of the need for courage.  At the same time, the Guru gave all Sikh women the name or title Kaur, meaning “princess” to emphasise dignity and complete equality. The Guru then knelt below the five and asked them to initiate him. Hence, the Khalsa became a community in which master and disciple were equal.

Vaisakhi brings a unique message of tolerance, harmony and equality amongst Sikh communities. In a modern day society, it is clear to observe the equality amongst all citizens, regardless of their class, colour and gender through Sikhism. By working together communities can strengthen themselves with a wide understanding of the rich diversity they are surrounded by.

As far as farmers are concerned, Vaisakhi is not a religious occasion for them, it is the time to harvest the crops especially wheat. On Vaisakhi farmers thank God for the beautiful crop and pray for good times ahead. People buy new clothes, sing, dance and enjoy the best of festival food.

For more information on our Vaisahki Celebrations event taking place on Saturday 23rd April visit here. We’ll see you on the dance floor!

Vaisakhi guest high commissioner credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaiasakhi performance credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaisakhi dancer pose credit Mohammed Rayaz Vaisakhi guests credit Mohammed Rayaz

Image credit: Mohammed Rayaz

My week with GemArts

Hello, my name is Hina, I am a student at Joseph Swan Academy. In July 2015 I completed a 1 week placement with GemArts as part of my work experience. While working with GemArts Director, Vikas, and the team, I got to see what goes on behind the scenes at their events and during their other project work.

During my week with GemArts they had an event at the Newcastle Beacon, to celebrate the East by North East project GemArts led which helped young people from Newcastle learn about and create their own music. I helped GemArts Administrator, Jade, make sure there was enough CD/DVDs for the guests, and prepared the room before everyone arrived, making sure that the venue had enough space for the speeches and performances to take place, as well as helping set up the catering and check the sound. We handed out leaflets which included a running order of what would happen during the event. During the event there was a video about the progress young people have made producing their own new music. GemArts also presented some young people with Arts Award certificates which show how much commitment and hard work they had put into the project. Some of the groups also performed their music, which all the guests thoroughly enjoyed. At the end we helped tidy up the venue and had a chat with artists and guests that had attended to say thank you for coming and supporting the event. This opportunity was really interesting because I got to see what goes on behind the scenes of planning events and seeing the types of projects GemArts deliver.

Another interesting part of my work experience week was when I visited GemArts visual arts projects. My first visit was to the project working with a group of young mothers from different backgrounds living in Byker. I went to see this group, who meet up weekly in the Newcastle Byker centre with GemArts’ Project Manager, Alex. The women meet weekly, and work with GemArts artist Emma, learning how to make beautiful artworks using different materials. After seeing this group of women work together it made me think about how art can bring people from different backgrounds and cultures together, where strangers can start to get along like they are old friends. To me it shows how powerful and universal art is, something which I hadn’t previously thought about.

During the rest of my time working for GemArts I learnt how different people had different roles to help maintain the work of the organisation, and how the office runs. GemArts Communications and Development Officer, Sinead, explained how the organisation looks for opportunities and works to increase their audiences and the coverage of their events and projects. Part of this work included updating the school and organisation contacts lists on a database so the team will be able to contact these people about future projects and events.

Overall I really enjoyed my time working for GemArts for my work experience, and I learnt a lot about how they and other groups operate.

Here is a photo of me on a visit to one of GemArts’ secondary school projects holding an Anti Hate Crime posters design created by year 8 pupils.

Post by Hina Khalid

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit

School Anti Hate Crime Project visit

Photo by Nigo Chong The Chinese fox having her wedding

BUTOH

Myth of Butoh

Hi it’s Laichee again,

As well as being an MA student I am also a Butoh dancer, when GemArts discovered this they asked if I would write a piece for the blog explaining a bit about this dance form, so here it is.

I first started learning Butoh in 2009 with Malaysia’s first Butoh company Nyoba Kan. At this time I also learned from an important mentor, Yukio Waguri, a Butoh master from Japan. Yukio Waguri was the main disciple of Butoh founder, Hijikata Tatsumi (1928-1986).

Butoh was founded by Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno after World War II, when Japan was ruined and people started questioning their Japanese identity, resulting in Western culture becoming overly influential. Hijikata wanted to find a “true” dance, one that demonstrates the real identity of the dancers. Hijikata did many experiments before he named this new dance form “Ankoku Butoh” (dance of darkness). Unlike Western Ballet dance, in which the dancers try to dance upward and reach to the sky, Butoh dancers try to move downward to the earth, where they try to find their identity in the inner world.

The spirits suffer in Hell Photo by Royer Wan

The spirits suffer in Hell Photo by Royer Wan

Indeed it is not easy to give a definition of what Butoh is, I always forget exactly how I have explained Butoh right after I have told people about it. I would love to share with you the meaning of Butoh, as written by my dance mentor Mr. Waguri, so please read on and enjoy his thoughts on this art form.

What is Butoh?

By Yukio Waguri

[Translated from original text written in Japanese]

Butoh Master and Choreogrpaher Yukio Waguri by Nigo Chong

The Butoh master and choreographer Yukio Waguri Photo by Nigo Chong

The word of the “Butoh” has come from China. It also appeared in Japanese ancient documents 1,000 years ago. Before that the “Butoh” itself meant foreign culture or entertainment. The “Butoh-kai” held during Meiji period also used in the meaning to express the western culture. Currently, an enormous information network was set up all over the world, and the speed of the international interchange has really changed. Nowadays all of us facing with the overflow of the information, but that is necessity to stop once and consider the meaning of the “Butoh” again.

The character [Bu] of the “Butoh” means to turn/spin, over the mind concentration, it caused a de-soul situation then to let the spirit of god or ancestors or ghost to go into the empty container or human body and make them dance. And for the character “toh”, means step cautiously, jump, while the body absorbed the energy from the earth, the existence of the power to confine the bad soul of the underground. Also for the liberation from the daily hard working, the joyfulness of the good harvest, then become a celebration of religious service in the rhythm of nature, a ritual ceremony to call the spirits of the ancestral to return happily, and after that developed into a national level religious event. Naturally these “Butoh” exist everywhere in the world. It is not the unique thing that only occurred in Japan.

Then, what is the meaning of “Butoh” in nowadays? Due to the pioneer appearance of Hijikata Tatsumi/Ono Kazuo in year 1950-60, those arts expression was called avant-garde dance (ankoku butoh). After some time the “Butoh” was recognized and spreads out to the world, from then the name “ankoku” was disappeared and they started to call it “Butoh”. But I think that “ankoku” is the most important part for me. To set one foot step into the totally new area, actually it is an experiment mind for me. That is the reason why “Butoh” is defined as art. Why does the human desire for the light? I think none of them would like to live along in the darkness, neither in the society nor inside the human himself. We can only imagine the Land of Happiness, but the Hell is always in front of us. We must continuously face the darkness and death. Even if we try to ignore their appearance, with only express the existing beautifulness and dreamlike story, it will be turnout to be a poor art performance.

The “Butoh” shows that the existence of human being itself is an art. Currently we believe the harmony between the power and simplistic beauty from Europe, excessive belief to the health, the standard value of the beauty of the proportion, forced to accept the value of the commercialization of the arts. Especially the tendency is obvious in the dancing. So the “ankoku Butoh” began to pose the doubt about them. Isn’t it the “Butoh” rediscovered the human gentleness after the 2nd world war? What is the “beauty”? What is the expression come from the the unique ethnicity body/culture? These questions are the starting points of the “Butoh”. The arrogant humanism, mammonism are covered the world and begin to alienate human being itself now. The uneasiness for the human being actually is the human being itself now.

Although globalization is loudly shouted nowadays, each of us has to find our ways to solve the problems and step forward. “Avant-garde art, zen ei gei jyutsu” isn’t formed by begging hands. False or untrue gentleness and sympathy have nothing to do with “Butoh”, because everyone stands with their own foot to start to dance. And it is necessary to go through a long pupa period to become to flap like a beautiful butterfly. There is hope in the difficulty, after pass through the darkness then the light of the hope is waiting for us. While the world is facing with the political turbulences and the changes of the economy, in fact in our inner side, “Butoh” let us know that there is a boundless space surpassing the reality. The master Hijikata Tatsumi said that “the Butoh learn from nature, the body learn from the things”, I feel that is very meaningful for me. I think that the “Butoh” lives independently in the world, and from now on I will keep on thinking what is “Butoh”?

Post by Laichee (with text from Yukio Waguri)

EX NIHILO/THE HUMAN EDGE

Image: Chris Nash

Image: Chris Nash

GemArts finished November 2014 with a spectacular duo of new works from our good friend Mayuri Boonham’s company ATMA Dance. Ex Nihilo/The Human Edge are a pair of complementary works, taking inspiration from sacred texts of India to explore the metaphysical origins of matter and the ancient questions of creation and human life.

Ex nihilo

There is an intriguing similarity between ancient philosophical questions of India and scientific inquiry about how our universe came into existence. The Hymn of Creation from the Rig Veda will drive the choreography of Ex nihilo, which will be juxtaposed against a sound environment created from recordings of The Large Hadron Collider by Bill Fontana as part of his Prix Ars Electronica artist residency at CERN in Geneva.

The Human Edge

In this work Boonham looks at the perceivable aspect of the universe that is within our grasp – the human angle. The story of Sati, the first goddess, the first embodied energy who appears at the start of the Hindu mythological moment of creation. The choreography delves into the drama of Sati’s life, love and dramatic death as a metaphor of a star.

When Mayuri told GemArts about this new project, we were really excited and blown away by the enormity of the themes and subjects she would tackle. Something which also struck us, was the link to CERN and Bill Fontana’s recordings of the Largde Hadron Collider. Not only was Professor Higgs (who is recognised for identifying the Higgs Boson particle and receiving a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013) born in Elswick Newcastle, but we also have a superb Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP) based at Durham University. To add something extra to the event, we invited Dr Alexander Lenz, Deputy Director at the IPPP, to join Mayuri Boonham in a post show In Conversation.

The performance was fantastic, the two pieces presented in a very unique way, with elements of jagged, almost mechanical movement in one followed by fluid, graceful sequences in the other. The sound and lighting was exceptional, breathtaking some said. Following the dancers performance, Dr Lenz and Mayuri led a lively discussion covering CERN, physics, dance, sound, silence, literature, maths, faith and much more.

You can read Living North’s review of the performance, plus In Conversation here.

Post by Sinead

NEW CONCERT ANNOUNCED

Every now and then whilst planning our forward programme, an opportunity to add to GemArts’ current season appears, and we have had such an opportunity present itself this season. On 18th December GemArts and Sage Gateshead will present Project Avartan in Hall Two. This fantastic world fusion trio features musicians Rekesh Chauhan (Piano), Alok Verma (Tabla/Percussions) and John Garner (Violin). Avartan, meaning cycle, weaves in influences from various world music styles, with an emphasis on the classical backgrounds the trio share. The project explores musical traditions with an array of contemporary flavours. This concert takes place during Sage Gateshead’s 10th birthday week, when the venue will be buzzing with birthday cheer.

Rekesh Chauhan (piano)
Alok Verma (tabla/percussion)
John Garner (violin)

Watch Project Avartan perform in Lisbon below:

Tickets are available from Sage Gateshead, priced at £10 full , £8 concession and our special £25 Family Ticket is also available. More info at www.gemarts.org

 

PROJECT AVARTAN

ALOK VERMA’s repertoire spans spiritual world music, fusion, indo-jazz, hipChop and African drumming. He has performed alongside Boris Grebenshikov, Aquarium International at the Royal Albert Hall and Ian Anderson, (Jethro Tull) at the Barbican, London.

REKESH CHAUHAN’s early training in Indian Classical Music from his Father and Guru, Rajesh Chauhan, fed into his study of Western Classical Music. Unifying a new style has made him a phenomenon amongst listeners as he is one the few who perform Indian Classical music on the Piano.

A graduate of the Royal College of Music, violinist JOHN GARNER has performed across the world with Hot Club Ensemble, electronica band Polaroid 85, his jazz quartet, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

 

Post by Sinead