Guest Contribution by Katerina Biliouri

The River is a collaborative animated film project based on contemporary dance, taking place in Birmingham, England. It is a project in progress. Birmingham's multicultural character inspired Babis Alexiadis, the lead-artist and director of the project, who has successfully involved over 200 people towards the creation of the final dance piece of this exciting project.

Babis Alexiadis is a Greek media artist, who produces animation and film projects using as a platform city landscapes. Working and engaging with the public is integral to his artistic practice.

But why choose Birmingham for the project and and why call it "The River"? It is a fact that Birmingham is an ethnically and culturally diverse city. As a matter of fact, it has the smallest indigenous population by percentage of many of the major British cities and it is the second most populous city, behind London. People from different backgrounds, ethnic minorities, cultures and religions create the city's unique mosaic.

The project aims to engage with people from diverse communities in Birmingham; each community represents a river of creative energy; each river embraces its own shape, characteristics, colour and surroundings. As nature commands, the small rivers stream into a bigger river; this culturally and characteristically integrated river is Birmingham.”

The River is specifically designed to inform and encourage participants from the wider community  of the creative processes surrounding animation and dance. The almost 200 participants come from diverse and often hard to reach groups, with an age difference ranging from 8-78 years. The participants consist of groups of approximately 40 people. Each group is responsible for creating dance pieces in collaboration with a professional choreographer and all dance pieces are based on the theme of 'community'.

The project has currently completed its first stage of research and development and presented the pilot of The River at the West Midlands Cultural Olympiad launch, in July 2009 in Birmingham. Moreover, it is supported by Arts Council England West Midlands, the BBC Big Screen, Awards For All, and the People Dancing Strand of the Cultural Olympiad.

Lead artist and director Babis Alexiadis remarked, “We anticipate that the participants will help to place the various pieces of the animation 'jigsaw' together; their input, working with the choreographer, visual artists and dancers, along with the technical crew, will result in a finished production that will be viewed as both a live performance piece and a short film.”

The final dance performance and accompanying film will be screened to audiences in Spring 2010. You can keep track of what is happening on The River's blog where you can watch videos of group rehearsals.

So stay tuned.. cause the best is yet to come!!!

more videos here

The River project

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