In June 2015, Candoco Artist Jemima Hoadley visited Yerevan to choreograph a new work with Armenia’s first inclusive dance company, as part of Candoco’s ongoing partnership with British Council Armenia and their Unlimited: Making the Right Moves project. This work followed on from previous workshops in Yerevan in 2014 conducted by Candoco’s Artistic Co-Director, Pedro Machado, and Candoco Artist and previous company dancer, Victoria Malin.
In September 2015 Jemima returned to Armenia to complete the piece - Hiraeth – with 6 dancers, ready for its premiere.
“Hiraeth” is a Welsh word, which expresses the idea of homesickness. Words expressing the idea of homesickness also exist in a number of other languages, which proves the phenomenon to be universal, although very few nations share that fate.
Working with Jemima, the dancers - some of whom had not previously worked inclusively - explored the experiences of Armenian Genocide survivors, yearning towards the lost homeland and about the efforts for regaining their own identity in the new country.
“It's been interesting and new for me to work with people with disabilities. At first it was very difficult…seeing people with disabilities who can't do everything like me. But now I am very happy that I am in this project and I can help with my experience and give advice from my dance background.”
( - Tamara, Project Participant )
The work officially premiered within the main programme of Armenia’s Highfest International Performing Arts Festival on 3rd October 2015, and was attended by Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Armenia, Judith Farnworth. Part of the performance was also included in the Grand Opening Ceremony of the Festival.
The piece was most recently performed as part of Unlimited Festival 2016 at Glasgow's Tramway.
Read about the participants' experiences in our 25th Anniversary story: Encounters with Candoco
Watch the performance of Hiraeth in full: