Hip hop and breakdance may have its roots in the city, but a small experiment this past weekend took it into new territory with a performance at a highland loch. Artists from a young music group from Muirhouse in Edinburgh and a touring Ugandan breakdance group, Tabu Flo, combined for a dance workshop at the Loch Leven national nature reserve.
The project is part of “Shared Territories”, an Edinburgh Mela Project supported by Creative Scotland’s Partners Fund, SNH and Forestry Commission Scotland. It has been developed by Edinburgh Mela Artist in Residence, Rocca Gutteridge, who gathered kids in the area from a wide range of backgrounds to form a hip hop break-dance inspired group.
Before the performance started, Craig Nisbet, Scottish Natural Heritage’s reserve officer at Loch Leven, took the singers and dancers on a tour of the reserve. He focussed on the sounds of nature, bird song, water, and wind during his tour.
"Many of the group weren’t familiar with the sounds around them," he said.
"So the voice of a singing willow warbler fresh from his long journey back from Africa was a real treat, and the sight of shovelers and mute swans was a new and remarkable experience. It was a terrific event to be part of, and the story of the birds’ migration was woven into the dance. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and the groups’ performance was outstanding. I feel really fortunate to have been part of this unique event.”
Rocca recently joined the Mela Festival for a 15-month programme aimed at connecting artists and community groups with Scotland’s natural environments through initiatives such as this workshop.
“This project is just the start of a series of activities that will explore how the Scottish outdoors can influence, contribute to and inspire artistic work,” says Rocca.
Throughout the programme, culturally diverse groups will visit forests, lochs, hills and green areas around central Scotland. The visits will explore responses to natural environments and will be used by the artists to inspire new work with the aim of encouraging a deeper appreciation of Scotland’s natural environment.
Scottish National Heritage has been involved in a number of initiatives to encourage more people from black and minority ethnic community groups "to get involved in learning about and looking after the nature on their doorstep". These have included Ecofusion at Holyrood Park and the Community Introductions last Summer where a 170 people were introduced to parks and wild spots across Scotland.
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