Launched in 2019, the London Borough of Culture was established to celebrate the rich artistic landscape of England’s capital city. Often presented with stereotypical depictions of the city, the initiative dismantles preconceived ideas and acknowledges the multi-cultural communities that make London. Previous LBOC being – Waltham Forest (2019), Brent (2020) and currently Lewisham (2022), with Croydon having been announced as the next one in 2023.
Based in Lewisham this year, the mass dance performance Close to Home, brought to us by the Albany Theatre and located at Sedgehill Academy, takes us back to the origins of time. A troupe of African drummers communicate with the supportive Lewisham crowd with talking drum sequences, we asked to clap particular rhythms in response to drummed patterns. A solo dancer taking to the stage and performing movements that too respond to the drums, West African movements an integral part of the segment and a welcome part of the show’s duration. Phased in are more dancers, ranging for Lewisham’s youth – the stars of tomorrow, disabled artists and elder artists – this a beautiful reminder of just how diverse and inclusive not just Lewisham is, but the entirety of London too!
A melting pot of dance styles, featuring Hip Hop, Contemporary and Kathak, these all cultivate a utopia whereby everyone, from differing walks of life come together and embrace difference and common bonds, the performance an accessible hour, mesmeric. The stage filled at points with the entirety of the troupe, reinforcing the strength of community. Speeches prior to the family friendly performance are given by Sadé and Kristina Alleyne of Alleyne Dance, Chief Executive of Dance Umbrella Freddie Opoku Ade, Artistic Director of Upswing Victoria Amedume MBE and Artistic Director of Irie Dance Beverley Glean MBE – inspirational figures integral to dance here in the UK, particularly Black dance and theatre. The afternoon a much needed reminder, after what has been a significant week, that London has a very important initiative with LBoC in terms of galvanising community spirit and supporting grassroots projects – a joyous, jubilant occasion!
Written by Lucy Basaba.
Close to Home was shown on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th October 2022. Lewisham is this year’s London Borough of Culture. To find out more about the initiative, visit here…