Lincoln marks Summer Solstice with dance

To coincide with the longest day of the year, June 21, a unique performance took place in the Lincoln Cathedral Quarter on Tuesday evening.

Artists Judd Morrissey and Mark Jeffery, who are professors at The School of Art Institute in Chicago, were invited to Lincolnshire to lead the event.

The Labours: An Astronomical Dance began outside Lincoln Cathedral, which represented the gestures of labour throughout Lincolnshire.

The group of performers then split into four groups and moved to Steep Hill, Bailgate, Greestone and Wordsworth Street to represent the constellations as they created a human celestial map.

The performance was commissioned by Nightjar, a programme that presents artwork between the hours of dusk and dawn.

Jo Mardell, an independent producer who runs Nightjar, explained that they like working at night because it is an “unusual time to experience”.

It has been part of a month-long project which involved visiting Lincolnshire towns and villages to find local stories to use as part of the choreography of the piece.

Some of the stories included one about Geoff Capes, a former athlete and strongman who lives in Lincolnshire, and they drew a lot of inspiration from the churches around the county.

The month of preparation included Lincolnshire Dance, a local dance development agency, recruiting people to take part in the event. Some of the volunteers had only had a weekend of practice at the Lincoln Performing Arts Centre.

Keyna Paul, Director of Lincolnshire Dance, said getting volunteers, some with little experience, was an approach that Nightjar favoured:

“It was very much to do with how the company wanted to work and that’s about having the core of the piece with professionals and then supplementing with a range of other people.”

The event is also part of Igniting Ambition, a Cultural Olympiad programme running up to the London 2012 Olympic Games to create once in a lifetime opportunities.

Paul added: “It’s great that Lincolnshire Dance can come and work and be part of something like this. It has brought us into contact with a new audience and you can see that people are not quite sure what is happening, they are not a dance audience so it is lovely.”

Photos: Samantha Fisher for The Lincolnite