Routes is a project commissioned by Dance4  to engage local people from Belgrave and Braunstone communities in Leicester to encourage outdoor walking and explore the local areas through creative processes.

Open the Routes Walk document here to retrace their footsteps and sample their experiences of the local area.

Routes choreographic audio walk  –  Belgrave

The project culminated into a public event as part of Big Dance 2012. The final piece was a guided audio walk and installation around the streets near the Neighborhood Centre in Belgrave. The walk is a provocation to experience familiar urban surroundings in different ways. An audio guide leads and mis-leads you with instructions, local stories and a soundscape that mirrors the live sounds.  Along the journey, red chairs and boxes are found, framing the everyday choreographies and the featured stories.  The ordinary becomes extraordinary, the traffic becomes water and paved paths become dusty childhood routes. The walk invites you to be in the moment, to imagine, remember and playfully reclaim the streets that are so often taken for granted.  It is designed to be a solo walk; it plays with ways to present an embody the everyday, to share local stories and connect with the local community.

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photos ©Andy Wood

Work in progress & community engagement 

Workshops – The project started by delivering workshops at the Neighbourhood Centre in Belgrave and Oak Centre in Braunstone. The workshops were based on creative movement and walking activities:  focusing on spatial awareness, observing, listening and using improvisational scores to move and react to the surrounding environment. The activities included recording sounds, mapping and sharing feelings about the local area.

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Drawing on my background in improvisation, site responsive work and interest in psychogeography, the workshops were an exploration into finding ways to challenge habitual walking experiences, an investigation of the lived experience of place and ultimately an important part of the research for the creation of a final outdoor installation walk.

Mapping and mis-guiding activities  
IMG_0457 Screen shot 2012-11-14 at 13.17.13

Developing the final outdoor audio and installation walk

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I spent time on site, meeting local people from different community groups in both Belgrave and Braunstone; listening to their stories, their journeys and their relationships with outdoor spaces. We talked about where we are from,  the places we call home and shared views about adapting, inhabiting and belonging.

I have been exploring the area, observing, getting lost, capturing images, recording soundscapes, doing historical research, meeting people and capturing their stories.

Sound recordings – The sound recording and the local stories will be used in the final installation.

Framing- fragment of journeys, passing by stories, pedestrian movement and choreographies. The framing idea is going to be developed for the final outdoor installation. Different  frames will be installed in Belgrave Rd and Cossington Ground, framing the space in a choreographic way, providing also a frame for the recorded local stories.

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The red chairs
 The core idea of the chairs was to create unusual resting places, landmarks for the journey, precarious ‘home’ and arrival points, a places to witness ‘urban choreographies’ and experience stillness.

Thanks to:

Andrea Haley – support dance artist
Gillian Dyson – artistic mentor
Matt Sykes Hooban – technical support
Andy Wood –  audio support and photography
Visu Mallayam  – translations
Ruth Bates and Kirsten Jeavons –  Dance4

Special thanks to:

All of the women from the Neighborhood Centre (Lunch Club) and Arruna Karelia for sharing their personal stories; Belgrave Neighborhood Centre staff; Bajaj Fashion; Saree Mandir; all the Routes workshops participants and volunteers.

Some related research and background:

Careri F.(2002). Walkscapes: walking as an aesthetic practice
Solnit R. (2001). Wanderlust: A history of walking
Wrights&Sights: A mis-guide to anywhere
Tuan, Y-F. (1977). Space and Place: the Perspective of Experience
Ingold, T. (2000). The perception of the environment: Essays in livelihood, dwelling and skill
Debord G. (1958). Theorie de la derive in Internationale Situationniste #2

“Walkers are ‘practitioners of the city,’ for the city is made to be walked. A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities. Just as language limits what can be said, architecture limits where one can walk, but the walker invents other ways to go.” ― Rebecca Solnit 
“To practice space is thus to repeat the joyful and silent experience of childhood” – Michel de Certeau
“In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones.”  – Debord G.A Dance4 project in partnership with The Leicester Sport Partnership Trust