Acclaimed Warrington dancer returns to roots ahead of Edinburgh Fringe performances

Professional dancer Kate Jackson chose to return to her roots ahead of a series of performances at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Contemporary dancer Kate has been commissioned by, and worked with Culture Warrington, before so returning to Pyramid Arts Centre to rehearse Airplane of Flowers was an easy decision.

Originally from Warrington, Kate returned to the town seven years ago after working in London and was delighted by the change she saw.

“It’s amazing that we’ve got somewhere like Pyramid and Parr Hall here; I’ve been coming to this building all my working life and it’s great to be connected with Culture Warrington again.”

Previous collaborations with the arts charity include Household, SOLO and All-one with the support of Arts Council England and Warrington Borough Council.

Other credits include being artist in residence at Northern School of Contemporary Dance where she trained and she has taught extensively and is a newly qualified yoga teacher.

“The town has doubled in size since I moved back here from London,” she added. “The art scene seems to be thriving and there’s a great dance programme developing here.

“That’s why I’ve made most of my work here.”

Her most recent residency at Pyramid has been in preparation for a series of performances of Airplane of Flowers which took place at Edinburgh Fringe’s Forest theatre.

The piece was originally commissioned by Merseyside Dance Initiative for Liverpool’s LEAP dance festival in 2018 and features a solo performed by LJMU Masters student Abbi Henderson.

Kate explained the inspiration for the work: “I was looking for ideas at the point of time when Syria was being discussed a lot and terrorism was very much in people’s consciousness; it was just before the Manchester Arena bombing to put it into context.

“I started to research the affects that war, terrorism and injustice can have on individuals and the community.”

Kate also drew on her awareness of the IRA bombings which took place on Bridge Street on March 20, 1993, killing 12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball.

She spent a year and a half carrying out research with organisations like the Tim Parry and Jonathan Ball Peace Foundation and Survivor Alliance, and volunteered with charities like Asylum Link Merseyside.

“I was interested in what happens to a community which has been affected by a bomb like that; what changes take place, how people’s sensitivities change.

“The Irish people felt so passionately about what had happened in Warrington that they sent loads of flowers which came, of course, by plane; I thought it would be nice to highlight that with the title of the piece.

“That really resonated with me.

“I started asking lots of questions about what’s in place to support people after something like this happens, what can prepare people for the aftermath, how do these things affect us and shape us.”

Speaking about Airplane of Flowers, Kate said: “Although it’s not graphic, it is by its nature a small stand against the storm of violence against women and children in terrorism and the need now, in that light, to hold tighter to our understanding of community and one-ness.

Airplane of Flowers celebrates the innocence of life, the great social part of being human that makes us all connected and loved, and the ability within us all to survive and recover.”

Kate has once again been commissioned by Culture Warrington to create a new performance as part of this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival.

Leah Biddle, cultural manager for Culture Warrington, revealed that Kate is working with students from Priestley College for a WCAF paving event to take place in the town centre during the Heritage Open Days weekend in September.

Leah said: “It’s been fantastic having Kate as our artist in residence this summer, knowing that we are helping one of our local artists in the development of their work, especially when it is for such a renowned platform as Edinburgh Fringe.

“I have been lucky enough to work with Kate on several projects and it’s a wonderful opportunity to now be able to connect an artist of her calibre with students from Priestley College in creating new work for this year’s Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival.

“I’m sure Kate will be a huge inspiration to other local dance artists and I wish her the best of luck in her upcoming show.”