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A dance project reflecting on the contribution immigrants and refugees have made to society in Kent - and by extension to the UK

Britain and England in particular, used to be seen as a place of refuge and shelter for individuals and groups fleeing religious persecution or social upheaval somewhere in the world. The religious wars in France and Europe that sent the Huguenots and other Protestant groups into exile in England in the late 1600s can almost be seen as a parallel to contemporary events in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. 


When the protestant Huguenots from northern France and what is now Belgium arrived in England, they tended to belong to professional groups such as weavers, bakers and bankers, etc, whose skills were welcomed and who soon found a place in society - even passing on their skills to ‘the idle English’ as one Victorian source describes the inhabitants of these isles. They made such a significant contribution to 17th century society, including playing an important role in the industrial revolution, that one could say that our modern world would not have been the same without their influence. 


With this in mind, could one not surmise that among the new groups of refugees arriving by whatever means; whether legally by air or sea, or illegally by boat, washed up on the beaches of Kent or apprehended mid-Channel, there will also be artists, craftspeople, musicians, scientists and dancers, who will ultimately make their own unique contribution to contemporary British society and make it a more dynamic and tolerant place in which to live and work. 

I originally devised this as a large multi-arts project in the style of our House of Mercy lockdown project and originally only planned on composing music for a 10 minute dance sequence. However, the more a story formed in my mind, the longer the music got and I now have music for a 30 minute narrative dance. So I'm looking for a choreographer and dancers to perform it.


With the help of producer extraordinaire, Robin File, we’ve begun to tweak/remix and produce the music ready to present. Listen to the first part (still in demo form), with added video. 


The extract here is the first seven minute and represents the point at which the boats arrive on the beach in Kent and the original refugees - the Strangers of the title - arrive in the late 1600s and look about, wondering what lies in store for them. Will they be accepted or rejected by the English?

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