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The Earth is But One Country: Creating new work with young people

In November 2022 we co-produced an exciting project with Orchestras Live in Northampton involving Zingaresque, an ensemble from Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT), and Dexterity, a local Northamptonshire dance group.

Through workshops led by Aga Serugo Lugo, Richard Leigh (Zingaresque) and Estha Jones (Dexterity) the young musicians and dancers worked to combine their existing repertoire as well as creating beautiful and adventurous new work for performance at the end of the project. Exploring themes of photosynthesis, barren landscapes and incorporating a piece of Native American chant, the project came to be known as The Earth is But One Country.

We asked one of our players, Robyn Blair, to talk about her experience of the project:
"From the very first moment we walked into the room, I knew something special was happening. Aga had only been there a few minutes and he had already begun to set in motion a transformative collaboration with Zingaresque; in moments the participants were singing, clapping, dancing, and improvising. Over the next weeks, I witnessed a life-changing introduction to creative music making, where the young people were encouraged to try anything, and no idea was wrong, it just needed to find its place.

We came up with everything in smaller groups, using processes that had imagination embedded in their foundations. Once one young person had an idea, the others quickly took it on, or added to it. Collaboration and understanding through fun were the driving force behind all of this.

When it was time for the musicians to meet the dancers from Estha’s Dexterity (and vice-versa!), the adults watched as they came together to jam during a break. We all agreed upon witnessing this, that the project was already a roaring success. To begin with, the young musicians and dancers were encouraged to sing and move in one large group, before mixing into smaller groups and coming up with an improvisation which was both informed by the musician, and informed by the dancers!

When everyone came back together to share their results, we were all in complete awe at how well this had worked. The groups had all come up with completely different ideas and executed them incredibly well. This was then used as one of the three pieces within the showcase performance we had on the 27th of November. Our audience watched in amazement, and even participated by singing in an encore taught by one of the young singers."

Robyn Blair

"I gained a fascination and appreciation for an enjoyable way of learning and creating - not just music, but speech and movement too! I’m definitely taking this experience with me and allowing it to inform the ways in which I approach my own future work." Robyn Blair

Published: 4 Jan 2023