Live art + dance + film + hundreds of athletes & young people worldwide + the Paralympic Flame = Starting Line
Starting Line was Accentuate's biggest commission and took place as part of the Paralympic Flame Festival in Aylesbury. Accentuate continues to support this creative team and is keen to explore further opportunities to tour and develop the work.
Sir Ludwig Guttmann’s pioneering work at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire revolutionised the lives of paraplegics. Not only that, he also organised the very first ‘Stoke Mandeville Games’ to coincide with the start of the 1948 London Olympics and realise an ambition of a global sports competition for disabled people. Guttmann envisaged that his Games would be held every four years as ‘the equivalent of the Olympic Games' and now, 64-years later that dream has become an established reality.
From the origins of the 1948 event the ground-breaking arts performance tells the story of and celebrates the similarly ground-breaking history of the Paralympic movement to the present day - and looks forward to just what can be achieved in the future.
Artistic Director Ryan Dawson Laight and award winning visual artist Rachel Gadsden - who exhibits internationally and works across mainstream and disability art sectors – have created Starting Line. They collaborated with Abigail Norris who created a film and there is a new soundscape by acclaimed composer Jonny Pilcher. The movement direction/choreography was by Freddie Opoku-Addaie in collaboration with five emerging young British dancers (aged 16-28) from the Candoco Dance Company and Rachel Gadsen.
The dynamic 20-minute collaborative performance involved disabled and non-disabled young people from around the world, spinally-injured young people based at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and the five dancers from the Candoco Dance Company. Rachel Gadsden creates eight brand-new works of art in charcoal and paint live on four large screens during the show. Abigail Norris’s film mixes archive Paralympics footage with new interviews from many of the international athletes who’ve competed over the years, plus responses from over one hundred disabled and non-disabled young people from across Buckinghamshire, as well as people from South Africa, USA, Ecuador, Cambodia and Australia who took part in the accompanying Starting Line education project led by Creative Junction.
Starting Line was supported by Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury Vale District Council, Arts Council England and Wheelpower.
“Starting Line is that moment – that pause – that breath – just before the starting gun is fired. It is a moment in time when anything could happen, when the world is suspended between stillness and motion. It is a moment when just a thought could sway the outcome, and bodies, minds; hearts are all poised, ready – raring – to drive. All eyes are on the prize. It’s a great metaphor.”