REVIEW – Safety Net, Dancenorth ET AL

There’s something powerful about seeing young people give themselves to the Arts.

Perhaps it’s in the witnessing of newly tapped talent.
Perhaps it’s the comfort of knowing the future of creativity is in capable hands.
Perhaps it’s the understanding that these young people’s minds rapidly expanding as they discover new depths of possibility, creativity, humanity, vulnerability, the power of collaboration and things they didn’t yet know about themselves.

Likely, it’s all of the above. And that’s what makes Safety Net such pure joy to watch.

Safety Net is a new contemporary, multi-disciplinary work sprung from a collaboration between Dancenorth, Theatre iNQ and Diffraction Collective. The project sought to expose young ‘movers’ and ‘talkers’ to a world beyond the commercial dance and theatre they might typically fall into.

Over just 13 workshop sessions – including a week-long intensive – 24 11-to-17-year-olds worked with Directors Alice Lee Holland (Dancenorth) and Arminelle Fleming (Theatre iNQ) to conceptualise, create and present a brand new work.

The piece explores themes central to its makers’ lives – choice vs control, conformity vs non-conformity, personal identity, and critical thinking. While these themes are presented through the lens of young people as they enter adulthood, the same uncertainties and insecurities resonate with older audience members because they are such universal challenges.

The makers have developed a well-balanced, highly engaging, entertaining and polished piece of theatre. As one audience member put it after the show, it really is ‘Magnificent’. The technical skills of all 24 performers were outstanding and their focus and discipline demonstrated a level of professionalism well beyond their years and experience. Set against the phenomenal visual design by Diffraction Collective’s Shane Troubles, Gav Rossetti and Aaron Ashley; and lighting by Charles Wiles, Safety Net is a feast for the eyes and the mind.

It’s heartening to know that the North’s young artists have access to such valuable opportunities for co-creation. Every single artist involved – regardless of experience – will be better as a result of this project.  

Safety Net runs until 27 March 2021 at Dancenorth Theatre.

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