The article below is a reflection from Cirque Bijou’s Artistic Director Julian Bracey about their production UNITY, part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Pageant.
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Julian says, “We want to make shows with the best artists and crew available. We also want to make shows that resonate with as broad an audience as possible. If you want a really exciting, interesting cast & crew, you need to be open to seeing the value in everyone.
We were aware that the Jubilee was going to be watched by millions of people and we wanted the audience to be inspired by the power of diversity with no limitations. Creating a platform to do this presents certain challenges, but it’s often the challenges in art that make it exciting.
I wanted the audience to be proud of the many different diverse members of our group and realise how lucky we are to live in a country where we can celebrate diversity and to realise how proud we should be of these exceptional people.
Our performance for the Jubilee Pageant included around 90 young dancers, the youngest aged 5… it included community wheelchair basketballers, professional mountainbike and bmx athletes, trampolinists, circus artists, unicyclists, bouncy stilts, aerialists, breakdance and the drivers, vehicles, technical and production teams to pull this all off.
It was an absolute pleasure working with Aunty Stacey (CEO), Abena (Choreographer) and all of the wonderful, energetic, outstandingly talented Steppaz, who made this performance their own and gave it their all. We loved having them on our team and together we created something we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
Andrew Gregory performing on the Heliosphere in front of the Royal Box. The cover was made for us by Bristol-based Cameron Balloons.
The balloon joined us on the route after Admiralty Arch, as it was too big to fit under the arch!
Andrew Gregory is UK Parapole Champion. This is the first time he has performed aerial! He was understudied and mentored by Leo Hedman (right).
DESIGN AND SUSTAINABILITY
The deconstructed Union Jack x Pride Flag design on the float was by Julian Bracey with Bristol street artist Zoe Power.
The fabulous costumes, over 120 of them, are designed and made by London fashion house Teatum Jones. They are made from offcuts and end-of-roll fabric and handpainted by students from University of Westminster fashion course.
We used recyclable materials in the float build and a battery supplied by JCB to power the float on the day.
We wanted to include as much movement as possible in the performance as well as showcasing a diverse array of skills. The bicycle team, headed up by 5 x UK and European trials mountainbike champion Danny Butler, included platforms fixed to the back of 2 JLR Defenders, as well as 2 professional bmx riders performing stunts on ramps ahead of the float. Two unicyclists moved up and down the space, bunnyhopping and balancing together. We were delighted to connect with Sparrows Wheelchair Basketball club from Hackney, who brought 8 basketballers to join us in our parade.
From DJ Milktray getting a big wave from the royal family to the sight of Andrew Gregory flying through the air and our bmxers jumping and backflipping in front of Buckingham Palace, there were so many memorable moments. There is now an amazing Tramp Wall team based in the UK… there wasn’t one before! Some hair-raising moments, too, like tight tunnels on the float’s route into London, low-hanging trees engulfing the trampolinists and sections of sand on the route causing difficulty to our wheelchair users. But most of all we will remember the dedication, commitment and motivation of our team of outstanding artists, who worked their socks off to achieve something truly extraordinary. You know who you are. Thank you.
This article was originally posted on the Cirque Bijou website. Rehearsal photos are by Andre Pattenden. All other photos are courtesy of the Platinum Jubilee Pageant or the BBC.
Author: Julian Bracey, Artistic Director and Geraldine Giddings, Senior Producer for Cirque Bijou
Do you have a story to share? Submit your news story, article or press release.