Unkindest Cut dance show staged at Sidmouth Science Festival

Unkindest Cut explores the mind's workings, through expressive dance. Picture: Kathy Hinde

Unkindest Cut explores the mind's workings, through expressive dance. Picture: Kathy Hinde - Credit: Kathy Hinde

Students take part in creative workshops before the show, to explore emotions and record words and phrases for the soundtrack

Experiences and emotions of local young people will be woven into the soundtrack of an expressive dance performance, to be staged during the Sidmouth Science Festival.

While much of the festival is all about the outside world, the show Unkindest Cut focuses on the human mind and explores how it copes, or sometimes fails to cope, with modern life.

The show is touring science festivals around the UK, starting with Sidmouth. Before each festival, its producers invite young people from the area to take part in creative workshops, exploring how to express emotions through movement, using a traditional Indian dance technique called Bharata Natyam.

Artistic director and choreographer Subathra Subramaniam said:

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“I teach some Bharata Natyam gestures and basic movements. We then have a discussion about what it is like to be a young person in the world today. We pick out words and phrases, and think about how we could express them through creative movement, also using music, rhythm and words if they would like to.”

Recordings of some of those words and phrases are then digitally altered and used as part of the soundtrack of the dance performance, played through special speakers giving the effect of words whispered in the ear.

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As well as providing dramatic sound effects for the dance performances, different for each festival, the workshops aim to give young people the freedom to explore their feelings, including negative or frightening ones, in a creative and safe environment. Students from Sidmouth College were among those invited to take part in the sessions leading up to the science festival performances, which take place on Thursday, October 4 until Sunday 7th.

Unkindest Cut aims to raise awareness of some of the issues troubling young people. But fittingly, the performances themselves are also part of a scientific project. Subathra Subramaniam believes that dance can help people understand scientific concepts. The reactions of audiences, particularly their emotional responses to the show, is being researched by a senior fellow in science communication from the University of the West of England, who will publish her paper on it next year.

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