Terra Nova Productions, Northern Ireland’s interculturaltheatre company, funded by The Department for Communities Neighbourhood Renewal programme and administered by EastSide Partnership, has worked alongside professional international dance facilitators and residents from inner east Belfast on a pilot virtual dance project called Mindful Flamenco.

The project used Flamenco as a way forparticipants to express their pandemic experience as well as providing mental and physical health benefits.

This 12-week project, for all ages, levels, and abilities, was led by international artist facilitators Mayte Segura (Mexico) and Mayte Ruiz Cala (Spain). During lockdown participants worked with the facilitators via online classes to gain new skills, improve their well-being, physicality, posture, leaving them energized and with a positive attitude.

They used Flamenco-inspired movements to explore emotions relating to their experience of the pandemic.

As part of the project, participants made a short film capturing the flavour of the inner east Belfast neighbourhood, the feelings that those involved experienced together, and the movement and music those feelings inspired.

The project also inspired David Paulin, one of Terra Nova’s participants from another project, to create a short work of art developed as part of his engagement with participants and their experience.

Mindful Flamenco builds upon four years of Terra NovaProductions’ intercultural theatre work on the HOME Project in east Belfast.

In association with EastSide Arts, the annual HOME Project offers four Belfast based emerging artists the opportunity for mentoring, developing their practice as intercultural artists, facilitating community workshops, and staging a showcase event. Mindful Flamenco artist facilitatorMayte Segura was one of the emerging artists to participate in the HOME Project.

Andrea Montgomery, Artistic Director of Terra Nova Productions, said:

“ We are delighted to build on and continue with our intercultural theatre work in inner east Belfast. Flamenco forms are exciting, something recognisable as ‘other’, an arts activity not normally accessible to inner East participants. Flamenco movement presented a safe way to express strong and often painful emotion, connect communities, build bonds, and increase mental well-being. The artist facilitators usedFlamenco and contemporary elements to tell the stories of the participants, to create a piece of dance that is virtually performed and can hopefully connect with many. With thanks to The Department for Communities Neighbourhood Renewal programme and EastSide Partnership for their support inmaking this project happen.”

EastSide Partnership’s Neighbourhood Renewal Co-ordinator Stevie Johnston commented:

“EastSide Partnership was delighted to support Terra Nova’sMindful Flamenco through funding which came from the Department for Communities Neighbourhood Renewal Unit. The project brought light, fun and connection at a time when these were needed most. Congratulations to all those involved and in particular the participants for their dedication and commitment.”

Mindful Flamenco facilitator, Mayte Segura added:

“Mindful Flamenco was a fantastic opportunity to engage with people from inner east Belfast during the lockdown. Flamenco is a great way to express strong feelings, so the groups particularly enjoyed getting together, learning new skills and, most importantly we learned to connect with ourselves using mindfulness. We guided participants gently through sessions of mindful movement and Flamenco elements that helped enhance their body posture, relax, and boost their self-confidence. We hope that everyone will enjoy watching this dance for camera piece, where the participants and facilitators express together using mindful images and Flamenco inspired movements.”

The Mindful Flamenco participants video and David Paulin’swork are now available to view on Terra Nova Productionswebsite visit and YouTube channel. Follow Terra Nova Productions on Facebook @terranovaproductions, Instagram, Twitter @TerraNovaDrama #TerraNovaDrama.

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