Finding Folk: Meet Phoebe Douthwaite
Meet Phoebe Douthwaite, Freelance dance artist and creator of the show ‘Finding Folk’. Phoebe trained at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance here in Leeds and is now focussing on her project bringing dance into the community as therapy to help people who have struggled with mental health. We caught up with Phoebe to talk about her upcoming shows and where she found inspiration for the project!
It was the art of percussive step dance which first inspired Phoebe and it has become a big part of her work. After discovering the art in America she brought the traditional folk dance back to the UK and with a combination of her training in contemporary dance created what she describes as a ‘fusion of contemporary society with traditional society’.
Folk is the art of passing down through generations, an art which is dying with today’s technology changing the way we experience music, dance and art – the challenge is finding a way to bring these stories and songs into society in a way that everyone can relate to.
This form of dance is used in ‘Finding Folk’ to tell the story of Phoebe’s life. She shows how finding step dance took her out of a bad situation and uses movement, live music and storytelling to draw on personal experiences around dealing with death, mental health and how music became her therapy. Phoebe hopes that by telling her story she can reach more people who are suffering, particularly young people who may relate to her story, in the hope that alternative forms of therapy such as dance and music might help them in dealing with their own struggles.
The underlying theme throughout Phoebe’s project is the need for better help for mental health. From her personal experience and research Phoebe stresses that people are often on waiting lists for long periods of time and there must be improvements in the way which people are being helped – perhaps through open discussions or watching Phoebe’s story more people will be inspired to try alternative therapies like dance!
‘Finding Folk’ reaches out to the community to encourage discussion of mental health, personal struggles and to try to break the constant circle that mental health can often get stuck in. Phoebe will be performing her show ‘Finding Folk’ on the 9th May, 7.30pm at Seven Arts.
Written by Orla Haigh