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  • Charlotte O'Sullivan
  • 10-01-2019 15:12:55

Ten years on from the initial research that developed into Rosie Kay’s best known and highly regarded show 5 SOLDIERS: The Body is the Frontline, Kay re-tours the 5-star show with a performance at Stephen Joseph Theatre on 7 February.  As a decade-long project that has pioneered artistic field-research and taken contemporary dance out of traditional arts venues, Kay pushes one step further by casting current soldier Trooper Alex Smith, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards to dance in 2019’s production.

 

★★★★★ The Independent  ★★★★★ The Observer ★★★★★ The Herald ★★★★★ The Scotsman

 

The tour will be presented in association with The British Army, this being the second time they officially endorse the work in recognition of how dance can provide insight to soldiers’ lives. Last year The Army put its weight behind 5 SOLDIERS as it exclusively toured Army barracks, taking audiences into the heart of military life. Wiltshire Creative is also a major supporter of 2019's UK tour.

 

Kay’s initial research with the British Army was inspired by a personal experience of injury, an interest in exploring the hidden reality of life as a soldier, and a vision of empathy with those willing to sacrifice so much of themselves for their jobs. When recovering from an injury, Kay started looking at the parallels between the training of soldiers and dancers, and how the body could be used as a shared medium to start conversations about identity, discipline, motivation and trauma.

 

She began the show’s development in 2008 by training with and taking part in full battle exercises with The 4th Battalion The Rifles, in addition to spending time with injured veterans at rehabilitation centre, Headley Court. For its contribution to Arts and Health practice and its value to the wellbeing of the military community, 5 SOLDIERS was awarded a Special Commendation from the Royal Society of Public Health. Last year, the show headlined a new Army Fringe venue in Edinburgh for a sell-out award-winning run in association with Summerhall. The show was also livestreamed from a London military base accessed by over 70,000 online viewers in partnership with Sadler’s Wells, The Space and BBC Arts.

 

"A disturbing, illuminating and necessary glimpse into a world we mostly prefer to ignore", The Guardian, Top 10 Dance of 2015

 

A visceral ‘tour de force’ of the senses, 5 SOLDIERS has a powerful physicality, moments of humour and is full of honesty, all inspired by careful observation and input from serving and former soldiers.  It has been endorsed as ‘nailing it’ by military audiences.  Through the one-hour long performance, the cast of five outstanding performers show the power struggles between their ranks, the passionate and sometimes rowdy bonds between each other, their vulnerabilities and their fragility, ultimately forming a hugely strong unit that can face a firefight and an unseen enemy together. The journey is one of physical and psychological transformation, and the sheer effort and brutality of the work leaves audiences members, regardless of political standpoint, with respect for what soldiers must go through.

 

Rosie Kay, choreographer says: “Working with soldiers over the last ten years has been an incredible and eye-opening experience. Over 8,000 people join the British Army each year yet it’s not a world that many members of the public get to access. Using dance, 5 SOLDIERS has clearly touched a lot of people with the response from soldiers, veterans and audiences being incredibly positive. Although I’ve seen the bonds and deep friendships that Army units develop, soldiers can sacrifice so much of themselves to fulfil their job and their duty. Inspired by my own experience of a career-threatening injury, I wanted to tell this story of how soldiers bodies remain essential on the frontline, and the show digs down into the foundations of their commitment to each other, inner strength and dedication in coping with war and recovery. It’s a story that I hope inspires empathy and a greater understanding of life from a soldier’s perspective.”

 

Alex Smith, new dancer and current soldier says: “I’ve been a soldier in The Army for two and a bit years, and saw Rosie Kay Dance Company’s livestream of 5 SOLDIERS last year. A soldier from another regiment shared the video on Facebook and when one of my old teachers tagged me, it spurred me on to contact Rosie and see if there was an opportunity for me to get involved. I was beyond nervous the morning of the audition, I knew it was likely that I’d be the only soldier. But it ended up being such a fun and enjoyable experience, and when Rosie called me to say I’d got the part, I’ve never been so happy in my life. When I first joined The Army I didn’t tell anyone I was a dancer but now they all know me, I’ve never had more support. We are a strong group of friends and when I told them about the show, they were like ‘fair game, go for it’. There are a lot of stereotypes around who can be a dancer and who dance is for, but I think 5 SOLDIERS and 10 SOLDIERS present a strong case that actually anyone can enjoy dance.”

 

Lieutenant Colonel Jo Young (SO1, Engagement) at The British Army, says: “The British Army is delighted to continue its association with this vital and engaging production. 5 SOLDIERS and 10 SOLDIERS present audiences with real insight around the themes of inclusivity, core values and soldiering in the 21st Century. It is important that society has opportunity to engage directly with the Army - its people - as these conversations develop. We are proud of Trooper Alex Smith and his role in bringing the utmost integrity to this production. His participation is a genuine demonstration of how, as an employer, the British Army seeks to develop the talents and potential of each individual in broad-minded and innovative ways.”

 

7pm, Stephen Joseph Theatre

From £10

Book tickets: https://www.sjt.uk.com/event/660/5_soldiers__the_body_is_the_front_line

 

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