Following on from the success of the Lumiere London Umbrella Project, I along with my fellow umbrella dancing troupe were asked back to perform at the opening of the magnificent public art installation O.T. 968 on the High Road outside Redbridge Town Hall last night (15 March).
We had a few new faces join us who had seen the performance advertised on Facebook and in total, 12 of us met up yesterday afternoon at Redbridge Central Library for a refresher/rehearsal for the evening performances. Leading the session and choreographing our moves once again was the lovely Caldi and Skippy from Cirque Bijou who made it easy for everyone to pick up the moves with their fun approach. Stage managing the performance and responsible for the slick running of the umbrella colour changes was technician Simon who followed us around with the music and the smoke machine creating a great atmosphere for us and everyone watching.
Our first performance was at around 6.15pm as we were waiting for dusk to get the best effect once our lights went on. As with our London performance, the umbrellas attracted much attention from passers-by who stopped to take photos and many teenagers and young children wanting to get involved in the procession cheekily running in and out of our formation! It was great to see young people laughing and having fun alongside us. Waterstones was the starting point for us, as in our groups we went through our repertoire of moves, starting with the train which looked amazing, our umbrellas were the wheels and our group leaders were the engine as we glided along the High Road towards the art installation which is part of the Lab Central Arts Programme.
We danced around the artwork which was designed by award winning artist Stefan Reiss. The glow from the LED lights in our umbrellas complemented the light projections and animations that were directed at the artwork perfectly and created an amazing spectacle.
As we headed back to the library darkness had fallen, perfect for our second performance which was timed to coincide with the end of the launch event for O.T. 968. As we formed our lines outside the Central Library, all of the dignitaries and guests came out to watch our performance and join us on the walk from the library to the artwork. Once again young children excitedly joined in laughing, dancing and singing along with us as we performed the Catwalk – a move specifically designed to get the audience moving through the centre of the light show. Over at the artwork we paraded around the outside of the installation before all filing into the centre to light it from the inside out. The highlight of this performance came from the amazing Rebecca performing her Michael Jackson routine to Beat It which totally blew us all away – such a talented member of the troupe!
Our final performance was at 8pm, the streets had quietened a bit by then, but there were still people around who wanted to get involved, including a man with his trumpet who decided to play during our duets (in pairs we had devised our own moves which we performed in the middle of the light circle). Whilst this was great to see him getting involved, we all had to laugh about it as he was asking us for money for his performance! Our finale was a party piece celebrating our team work and full of fun and laughter as we snaked along the High Road in a long line breaking into freestyle moves every now and again. Exhilarated we finally headed back to the library for the last time around 8.40.
Thanks to Sam Goodey, Culture Team Leader at Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure for commissioning the performance and bringing us all together again. There is talk that we may be back for Light Night, so watch this space…
O.T. 968 is a spatial installation containing large wooden beams and boards with an all over video projection that will be on display in the High Road until Saturday 24 March.
Check out part of the performance below:
Post Author: Cathy Pace