Thursday 9th July 2015
Strolling along Sankey Street, Warrington, brings me within spitting distance of Holly House, the former home of TTP, a place I came to for help, three years ago, when an addiction to painkillers rendered my life unmanageable once again. I had been alcohol free for five years.
It is a sunny day, very warm and I meet my friend Nick (one of my old peers) at Rhode Island Coffee Bar in Golden Square. We sit outside and drink coke, chatting about our lives now, our weeks in rehab and the people we have met along the way.
Risen members are convening at the Gateway Community Resource Centre, a few doors down from Holly House and I experience a bitter-sweet tug of nostalgia as Nick and I walk past the building that once bore witness to my anguish and yet gave me another chance to look at my life and what needed to change. It stands empty now, but it was here that I first met Donna Marie Morris and heard about Fallen Angels Dance Theatre. I looked forward to Thursday afternoons and our weekly dance class with her. Not even wrecked knees could make me miss it and when I left after twelve weeks of treatment, Donna gave me contact details for Paul B K and I promised myself that I would get in touch. That was 2012 and it took me two years. I became a member of Risen in June 2014, four months after having my right knee replaced, and a whole new world opened up to me.
To express emotion through movement is a freedom unparalleled by words. It is to reach into the unconscious and connect with the soul, a way of getting in touch with pain and being able to release it. It is a celebration of hope and a joining together of kindred spirits.
We are performing at the open evening for Interact Sobar, a community interest company, set up by Amanda Gillespie to provide non-alcoholic dry bar events for Cheshire. We are being let loose unaccompanied by Paul and Claire today, as they are otherwise engaged, and Andy, Kelly, Pat, Ali and Wolfie are already at the venue when I arrive. They are familiarising themselves with the place, having a cuppa, or off getting changed. We are wearing red Risen tee shirts for this performance. Ben, a former Risen member, who is also performing, says hello.
The hub is a hive of activity. This is a portable, Brink style bar – a pop up dry bar, and there are lots of delicious looking goodies, as well as colourful and exotic non alcoholic drinks to buy, at very reasonable prices.
The space we have to dance in is small, but adequate. There is a larger space in which we can rehearse, but we are set to be ousted from that, by an army of cops, who are holding a conference in the next room. Eeeeeeeek!! Best behaviour today peeps. At least our bags will be safe!
We mark out the dance in the space we have to perform in. It is going to be very cosy.
Once we have placed the dance in context, we go behind the screen to the larger space and rehearse, and because there are a couple of people missing, we need to adapt the piece, but Risen are good at doing that. We haven’t any music at this stage. We try playing it through Ali’s tablet, but none of us can hear it, so we use visual clues for now.
Ben comes in to talk through the schedule, as there have been some changes. He is to perform his rap and then introduce us, so we need to explain to him the theme of the piece, which is “Harnessing the Power of Intention”.
Andy gets to work on the sound system, with Ben’s help and there is free food to be eaten. As it is a sunny day, some of us go across the road to sit on the grass, near the golden gates. This is a sunshine and ciggy break, as well as a very welcome blast of fresh air.
We are almost ready to perform and when we go back in, the sound system is up and running, thanks to Andy and Ben. Our audience are ready and Ben kicks off with an entertaining and thought provoking rap. I feel nervous, as we wait on the sidelines for our turn, but once the music starts, the magic of the dance takes over and I connect with my spirit.
It is, for us, a passionate performance, an expression of raw emotion, born from shadow; a reaching out to the light. It is harnessing the power of intention; a prescription for the universe. We take our bow and enjoy the applause.
After this comes a question and answer session and then networking. Andy takes some numbers and people approach us and tell us how moved they were by the piece and the way we performed it. It is always good to receive accolades. There is more food to be eaten; chilli and rice, flatbread and scones with fresh cream and jam. I am stopped by the police, as I make my way over to their refreshment table to get a coffee. This is apparently not allowed, so I go and buy one from the bar.
We wait around for a while, because there are rumours that there is to be meditation and Tai Chi, but when this doesn’t appear to be happening, we begin making moves to leave. Some of Risen go over to talk to Andrea, a former member. People are dispersing and drifting away, some of them stopping to say how much they loved the performance.
Our conversations today have been about spirituality versus materialism and a yearning for global consciousness to change in order to bring peace and harmony to the world. We are talking about these things as we leave.
We say our goodbyes in the evening sunshine and the Chester folk set off towards Warrington Bank Quay Station, as Andy and I make our way to Warrington Central.
It has been another great performance by Risen; another beautiful dance.
Linda Lewis. July 14th 2015