Anna Holmes and Sam Ford founded Northern Rascals after training together at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Finding that they both had similar vision, passion and it seems a desire to shake things up in the dance discipline, since graduating in 2017 their creative practice has gone from strength to strength, with a number of ongoing Arts Council funded projects under their belt.
Back in 2019 they applied for funding via our CARP project to work on Sunny Side a piece that delves into the experiences of young people, exploring how your upbringing can affect your mental health, and really wanting to give teenagers the chance to tell their own story. They have engaged with young people across Yorkshire with Sunny Side, directly reflecting their experiences. They explain that this participation has built a very loyal audience, as they clarify “there is a part of each of them in it.”
We were able to support Northern Rascals by providing them with seed money for the piece which successfully supplied the match funding they needed to continue its development. They also utilised space with us and took up the opportunity to be involved with a scratch performance, allowing them to test out Sunny Side with a live audience. This was important as they explain: “its super helpful because audiences see things that you don’t (…) any feedback is good for us.” It is clear that the research behind Sunny Side is fundamental to its core.
The pandemic has given them time to re-evaluate, solidifying their process and mission. They have realised putting the wellbeing of the creatives they work with at the centre of their work is crucial, making sure everyone is paid correctly (something that unfortunately still gets overlooked in the arts industry) and that their health is prioritised. The pair are currently seeking Mental Health training to aid them on this quest. Ultimately, they have cemented the idea that their desire is to “work with people and for people” and in many ways this engagement and connection is as important as the performance itself.
Like many artists they have taken a lot of their creative practice online during the pandemic which has really expanded their reach. This included working on THE AFTERMATH an open-air dance theatre piece created with the young people of Calderdale and Northern Broadsides, which explores youth in the age of COVID-19. The team created a short film version of THE AFTERMATH which premiered on Facebook and Northern Broadsides YouTube channel, you can catch up with it here. In fact, much of their work has been captured on film for audiences to view online, a process that is fitting with the cinematic feel of their art and a great way for you to spend an afternoon.
They are devoting this third lockdown to getting stuck into the admin side of their work and are waiting on some funding news so that they can build a different performance model for Sunny Side, enabling the audience to see it in a unique way. They are also waiting to hear about funding for a new piece of work which focuses on the female perspective of the research they gathered for the show. The future continues to look exciting for Northern Rascals!