Dancers with Down's syndrome showcased in gorgeous photo series
A stunning set of photos has shone a light on an incredible performance group made up of dancers who all have Down’s syndrome.
All the dancers from Culture Device have the condition, and these images are from their latest production – a reinterpretation of a contentious ballet piece – The Rite of Spring.
The production was to celebrate the 106th anniversary of Stravinsky’s 1913 ballet – and photographer Evelyn Bencicova has perfectly captured the energy of the dancers who took part in the piece.
‘Culture Device Dance Project is an innovative dance company for professional dancers with DS,’ it says on the company website.
‘We use improvisation and experimental electronic sound to push the boundaries of choreography, whilst giving a professional platform for performers with DS.
‘Culture Device is a catalyst for artistic excellence. We choreograph, produce and promote social-cultural events across the UK and overseas.
‘Established in 2010, we have delivered over 15 projects with exceptional artists with Down’s Syndrome (DS), reaching over 3.5 million people.’
The performance of The Rite of Spring took part earlier this year and was performed at The Royal Opera House in London.
When Stravinsky’s ballet first premiered in 1913 it caused the audience to riot. The modern day production aimed to recreate this revolutionary spirit and continue to challenge audience perceptions about who is ‘allowed’ to perform.
‘We wanted to use photography and film to express what we’d experienced during the rehearsals and performance,’ Evelyn told Dazed Beauty.
‘We portrayed the dancers both in their stage character and as actors, professionals, ready to share their talent with the world.
‘The aim was not to create a “charity project” but an artistic collaboration in dialogue with the Culture Device.
‘To quote Sarah Gords, the main character of The Rite: “Yes, I have Down’s Syndrome but that is not all that I am.”
‘All of the dancers have incredible work and training ethics.
‘The rehearsals transcended a “dance practice” and became about the performer really living the piece and fully embodying the characters. We observed them holding and supporting each other, without any ego, without judgement.’
Culture Device have also created Drag Syndrome – a drag collective featuring queens and kings who all have Down’s syndrome – which tour the country with parties and shows.
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