‘I hope the audience will be moved and think about the impact the war has had.’
From Friday 2 to Sunday 4 September, Freedom Festival will be celebrating Hull’s independent spirit and historic contribution to the cause of freedom and this year’s line-up is looking almost too good to handle.
One performance that’s set to be an absolute beaut is the new commission by Freedom Festival Arts Trust and Hull Dance, The Way We Were – a thought-provoking dance piece celebrating and commemorating people’s relationships during the Second World War.
Created by two mighty talented, Hull-born dancers – Jon Beney and Freddie Garland – this free show aims to bring people together to dance and to be inspired.
The Way We Were covers the impact of war separating loved ones and those who did or didn’t return. “It’s mainly about love, loss and what that means now,” says Jon.
The Freedom Festival performances take place at the open-air Stage @TheDock. And on Remembrance Sunday (12 November 2016) an additional, poignant performance will take place at Hull Paragon Interchange.
The show sees Jon and Freddie working alongside Hull dance group Kingston Swing, as well as a sequence dance group made up of the region’s ex-servicemen and women. “Working with the groups has been amazing,” says Jon. “Finding a space to rehearse has been challenging, but that’s expected when you consider the logistics of using lots of dancers.”
The relationship between Jon, Freddie and the other dancers has helped the piece develop, too. “Freddie is a fantastic dancer and we’re both so passionate about the piece,” adds Jon. “We both love dancing and working alongside others. An instant connection has developed between us all. We’ve all felt at ease, and have trust in each other and the work we are producing.”
Despite performing all around the world – including choreographing 300 community dancers before a 75,000-strong rugby Challenge Cup final crowd at Wembley Stadium – performing at Freedom Festival is still a pretty big deal to Jon. He says: “It’s arguably the biggest festival in Hull. The festival line-up this year is one of the strongest so far.”
In between performing at this year’s festival, Jon is also planning to catch the Wired Aerial Theatre presents As The World Tipped, Company Chameleon presents Push, and Ibibio Sound Machine, an eight-piece band which includes Ghanaian guitar legend Alfred “Kari” Bannerman and Brazilian Anselmo Netto on percussion – “Ibibio are one of my favourite bands, I’m super excited to see them live again”.
“I hope the audience will be moved and think about the impact the war has had. We are dancing with people who have lived through the war and that means a lot to us.”
Jon Beney and Freddie Garland present The Way We Were on Sunday 4 September, 3pm-3.30pm; and 4.30pm-5pm at Stage @TheDock. Free.