Deepraj Singh, a young, talented Bristol-born dancer and alumni of our work, was commissioned to direct and choreograph Rooted in 2019. A contemporary dance theatre production, Rooted explores the duality of isolation and assimilation, bringing together unheard stories from young people experiencing isolation. Performed by a company of emerging young dancers, it examines what it means to feel alone.

My main barrier, that’s still around today, is that there’s no one that looks like me in my industry. There’s no contemporary dancer with a turban, that I know of...anywhere.

While thinking about making this show I kept coming back to the story of my grandparents, how they arrived in Bristol as one of the first families from India and created a community around them.

Because of their experience I want to share the stories and opinions of those who otherwise won’t get heard. I knew that isolation was a big issue among young people and I wanted to know more. Some of the stories I heard were shocking – one young person hadn’t left their home for years. I felt that a piece about isolation and belonging could be really powerful, and Rooted was born.

The collaborations I’ve had with other artists, and the support from Creative Youth Network, including affordable dance studios, have been invaluable. This commission has enabled me to learn how to lead, lead with others, communicate, value myself, the work and other’s contributions.

I’ve learnt a lot through having a safe space to learn more about my own practice and still go on as a performer. That’s something that is great about Creative Youth Network, they allow people like me to see our progression and give us a stake in what they’re doing.

Now I really want to strengthen the dance scene in Bristol - kind of educating the younger generation about dance. The secondary school I went to doesn’t have GCSE dance anymore and that to me is sad and scary because it makes dance less accessible.

I believe the arts have the power to raise voices and share stories, such as loneliness and isolation, to inspire and change lives.

Without the opportunities I’ve been given to develop my interest and talent in dance, who knows where I’d be today.


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