GreatWarMK: Performance of ‘For the Fallen’

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Photos taken by David Whittington-Jones

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Photos taken by Helen Parlour

“For the Fallen” – Campbell Park, Sunday 5th July 2015

The dance performance set against a backdrop of the banners commemorating the Great War took place against stormy skies which heightened the drama created by the moving and dramatic choreography and the fluttering banners set all around the Rose in Campbell Park – itself a place of commemoration.  The performers embodied the emotion of the piece (although many will never have known a veteran of the Great War themselves) and gave a truly sensitive and moving performance.

The banners were arranged in thematic blocks, some just images of war on the sackcloth that would have been used for sandbags, fluttering white crosses and feathers on gauze that might have been used for bandages, bright coloured banners showing the emblems of the Sikh and Hindu regiments (CHECK), smaller banners with the poppy motif which were used by the youngest performers and many individual banners telling personal stories passed down through families.  The banners were created by 9 different groups and many individuals through a series of workshops run by Vinny Stapley over a 9 month period – a list of the contributing groups is shown below.

The banners will be on display at Westbury Arts Centre from 11th July to 31st July – please contact WAC for details on or 01908 501214 as otherwise we cannot guarantee access to the full display.

There were two performances which were well attended despite squalls of rain and gusts of wind which heightened the impact of the music and the banners during the performance.  Twelve different groups performed, ranging from primary school children from Longmeadow School who wove a moving picture using the poppy banners and some of the individual poppies made by the community to a gentle and very beautiful waltz by residents and friends from Shenley Retirement Home to the sound of Waltzing Matilda.  A complete list of the very accomplished dancers is shown below.

Although the final performance was the summit and allowed us to share the project with the community as a whole, the workshops in which the participating groups and individuals worked on the dance and the banners were just as important and the feedback we received from these was full of enthusiasm about the sharing and the learning that was made possible by the artists leading the workshops – ‘another fabulous workshop – Vinny is an absolute inspiration’; ‘Lovely to work with Effie – her lessons were really enjoyable’; ‘Fantastic morning, lovely hearing everyone’s family stories’; ‘ It was a great way to remind us of the war, whilst being creative’.’The creation process was fun – working closely with Helen has been a great experience and I have learned a lot.’

Westbury Arts Centre would like to thank Helen Parlor, Chris Bradley and Effie McGuire Ward for their inspired choreography and to thank the performers for their dedication and commitment to the project.  We also thank Vinny Stapley, the textile artist who worked with the many makers both through workshops with specific groups and also open workshops at Westbury Arts Centre  and who also conceptualised the themes of the different groups of banners in collaboration with the choreographers as well as making many of them herself.

We would also like to thank the many helpers, especially Sophie Cullinan, a textile artist herself, who supported the project, Caroline Malone, Chair of Westbury Arts Centre, who took on the role of project manager and the many volunteers who made it possible for us to bring such an ambitious project to a triumphant conclusion, especially Helen DenDulk and Kate Edwards from Westbury and Lallie Davis, the overall GreatWarMK project manager for AHA-MK.

Finally we thank our sponsors: Heritage Lottery Foundation;  Community Foundation, MK; Dobbies Garden Centre; Westbury Arts Centre Bikathon organised with the help of MK Letnet; Peace and Justice Network, MK.

Dance participants

Bedford University
Bollywood Dance Group, Milton Keynes
CentreStage Theatre School MK
Graduate dancers
Initiate Youth Dance Company
Longmeadow Primary School
Open University Dance Group
Red Kite Dance
Samuel Whitbread Academy
Shenley Wood Village residents and friends
Stantonbury Campus


Banner makers

Art for Health
BATS Textile Group
Caroline Haslett Primary School
Longmeadow Primary School
Milton Keynes College
Northampton University
Shenley Brook End Secondary School
Stantonbury Campus
Westbury Arts Centre artists and other individual artists from Milton Keynes

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