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Award winning dance company brings emotional performance of gender transition to Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:30 13 September 2018

Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash. Picture: Chris Nash.

Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash. Picture: Chris Nash.

Chris Nash

An emotional performance that tells the story of a boy’s journey through gender transition is coming to Hornchurch.

Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash. Picture: Chris Nash.Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash. Picture: Chris Nash.

201 Dance Company is bringing their award winning performance SKIN to the Queen’s Theatre in Billet Lane.

Andrea Walker directs a cast of seven dancers in a fast-paced story of identity, family, mental health and belonging.

He told the Recorder: “The movement is very expressive, it’s powerful and it’s a very entertaining show.

“It shows the struggles of a boy going through a transition, and specifically the relationship he has with his mother.

“I feel that dance is the most powerful way of telling the story.

“There are no words or talking, it’s 100 per cent through movement and expression.

“That’s something we really love to do.”

Andrea Walker is the founder and director of 201 Dance Company, they will soon be performing their award winning show Skin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Nicholas Dawkes.Andrea Walker is the founder and director of 201 Dance Company, they will soon be performing their award winning show Skin at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Nicholas Dawkes.

SKIN had its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 and since then it has continued to capture the imagination of its audiences.

Speaking about how the play has evolved, Andrea said: “The cast has changed, but the lead dancer and the dancer who is playing the mother is still the same.

“There’s one scene in particular that gets everyone crying.

“People usually say that they never knew hip-hop could make them feel that way.”

Alongside performances of SKIN, 201 Dance Company will partner with Gendered Intelligence, a trans-led awareness and advocacy group to run training and workshops.

The group aims to make art centres more inclusive and welcoming for trans audiences, artists and participants.

“One of our main goals is to inform as many people as possible, not only about transgender issues, but how we can help transgender individuals,” said Andrea.

Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash. Picture: Chris Nash.Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash. Picture: Chris Nash.

“Obviously, since SKIN is only about an hour long, I never set out to deal with all transgender issues in the hour.”

201 Dance Company aims to confront issues and challenge social prejudices with their performances.

Their first production, Smother launched the group as a dance company two years ago.

“I feel that there are a lot of members of the LGBT community who are hip-hop dancers but at the same time hip-hop is still not used to talk about these stories,” said Andrea.

“It’s not what we expect from hip hop.

“I feel that skin is just like the extra we wear on our body - something we all have but it doesn’t represent who we are as a person.”

Andrea explained that the story of a relationship between two girls and two guys, “really put [201 Dance Company] on the radar of the LGBT community”.

Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash.Skin, an intimate journey of self-discovery will be peformed this autumn at the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Picture: Chris Nash.

The company has had three consecutive sell-out years at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and won an outstanding award for choreography developed at The Broadway Dance Centre.

In August 2015 Andrea Walker was nominated for an Inspire: Change Maker Award by London Dance.

“For me personally, before I was a choreographer, my background was in TV and media, so for me it’s always about the story telling.

“I like the audience to forget that they are watching a dance show and just focus on the story being told.

“There’s also a strong urban element to the story telling as that’s a really important part of hip-hop.

“I think when people see the show they really recognise it as a 201 Dance show.”

Based in Brighton, Andrea began dancing at the age of 14 in Rome and continued his studies at The Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix, Arizona and at The Broadway Dance Centre in New York.

“The year I spent in New York is when I started with contemporary dance. That’s when I really started fusing styles together,” he said.

“I didn’t see myself as a choreographer before New York, I thought I wasn’t hip hop enough, or contemporary enough.

“But my experiences in New York were really influential, and if it wasn’t for those experiences I don’t think SKIN would exist.”

SKIN is showing at the Queen’s Theatre on Sunday, September 23 at 8pm.

For more information call the theatre on 01708 443333.

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