Welcoming the Stranger

Dec 2017

Backstage Theatre Canal Studio productions in assoc Catherine Young Dance

15th Dec 2017

In 2017 we embarked on an exciting project with their artist in residence, choreographer and dancer Catherine Young entitled “Welcoming the Stranger.”

Catherine worked with people from throughout Longford, locals to the area and those from overseas who have come to call Longford their home including members of the Direct Provision Centre from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Africa.  She brought both communities together through a series of workshops and rehearsals throughout October and November, culminating in a performance in Backstage on Fri 15th Dec alongside a group of world-class professional dancers and musicians.

Through these workshops and rehearsals the Irish and migrant communities in Longford came together to move and be moved, sharing their stories, their culture, their music, their food, their language as Catherine gently guided the group towards the creation of a work for performance. Kids dancing alongside adults. A multi-generational, multi-ethnic work where rhythm the common language not English.  This true coming together of people and cultures, through their music, dance and song inspired audiences locally to embrace cultural difference and which will provide an opportunity for new migrants to engage with people from the local community, encouraging them to become involved with arts activities and arts organisations on a long- term basis.

Welcoming The Stranger has been overwhelming for both the participants and the audiences alike.  It has moved people profoundly and is a real testament to social inclusion and the value and richness of cultural diversity, showing that we are more similar than different and we have a lot we can share and learn from each other. Projects like this break down barriers, bring people together in a very close and real way and through the creation of art, allow participants to form strong bonds of friendship and solidarity with each other, getting rid of preconceived notions and biases
The Arts, and dance in particular transcends politics, religion and language and can work to bring people together and towards integration. In present times, we need more art and projects like these to forage a way forward through the negativity and shine some light on how things could be…
Backstage Theatre joined forces with Shawbrook Dance in Legan Co Longford, who provided accommodation and technical supports and expertise in support of the project. The project was also supported by Co Longford Arts Office, Longford County Council and the Dept of Justice Integration Fund.’

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Unifying communities through dance

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