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Image of Moving Cities – Tim Rubidge & Rosie Macari

You’d normally expect to find a dancer hidden away in the studio, on stage or on the dancefloor, not in Grainger Market, the Fish Quay or the back streets of Benwell, because dance isn’t usually welcome out there. But this isn’t a normal showcase: Moving Art Management have collaborated with Jevan Chowdhury to capture dancers in iconic North East locations in this stunning new exhibition, Moving Cities North East.

Funded by Arts Council England, Chowdhury photographed 12 professional dancers of different ages and genres in 25 diverse locations from Alnwick to Sunderland, during three days last December. Members of the public watched on as dance invaded their daily lives – it had escaped from the studio and taken to the streets.

“Performing Arts has its place and it certainly isn’t at a busy bus stop or pedestrian crossing.” Explains Chowdhury. “I believe dance is inaccessible and losing its way – that’s why its niche. Culture, dance, all of it needs a shot in the arm.”

Hannah Marshall and Rachel Birch of Moving Art Management approached Chowdhury after being inspired by one of his Moving Cities films at the Leeds Dance Film Festival. Since 2013, Moving Cities has been capturing dancers in real settings and has reached 2.8 million online. Chowdhury had never worked outside of London in the UK before. “It’s been a desire to work in the North East for a while, when the opportunity came to work with Moving Art Management and Dance City, I jumped. The North East is renowned for its thumping nightlife and no-nonsense locals. I was keen to show Newcastle by day, not the picture postcard images, but the urban landscape of the North East of England in 2017, a city that means business.”

Professional choreographer and producer Tim Rubidge works all around the world with a site-specific focus, taking dance to where people are. He was delighted to venture out from his base in the rural environment of the Northumberland hills and immerse himself in the more gritty, urban setting of the streets of Sunderland. With minimal direction from Chowdhury, Tim and partner for the day, Rosie Macari, did what they do best: they improvised and responded to their surroundings and to each other – with stunning results. “Jevan has done an incredible job with this collection.” He explains. “The use of colour and contrast and the size of the prints…they’re all so striking and very atmospheric.”

Teacher of the professional ballet at Dance City, Angela Reay, felt honoured to be asked to be part of this project, as she’s no longer a working dance artist. Feeling apprehensive as she climbed down onto a floating raft at the North Shields Fish Quay, in her pointe shoes on that freezing December afternoon, Angela was grateful that experienced choreographer Dora Frankel was on hand to be an artistic eye as she held a series of static poses. “Although it was so cold, the whole experience was great, like nothing I’ve ever done before.” She gushed. The images will be exhibited at a variety of locations such as Dance City, Alnwick Playhouse and Sunderland Bridges Shopping Centre throughout 2017.

Moving Cities is on display at Dance City from now until Friday 30th June.

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