In July, nine young people and two leaders representing DU Dance (NI) and Beyond Skin on the exchange project #CulturalBridge, took part in a return visit to Germany.  Great connections had been forged with de VILLA, Leipzig, during their visit to Northern Ireland in April and everybody was looking forward to working together again.

The group flew into Berlin and travelled on by train to Leipzig where they were met by the de VILLA group. After catching up, the young people worked in the studio creating dance and music sequences and generating ideas for the environmental campaign they were collaborating on. The next four days were full of city tours and beautiful mountain walks which created backdrops and inspiration for the campaign film’s visual and audio content.

For most of the young people from DU Dance this was their first time in Germany and for several their first experience of travelling abroad. It gave the young people the opportunity to see, smell, taste and feel the cultural similarities and differences – and this had a very positive impact on both the creative and personal development of everyone involved. “We have new friends now and it feels like we’ve known each other a long time,” said one participant.

For DU Dance working with Beyond Skin and de VILLA has been organisationally very rewarding. Mags Byrne, Artistic Director, explains, “Although we all work slightly differently and with different forms of creative expression, I found our working ethos to be very similar. Both partner organisations were flexible, committed to the development of the young people and the exchange programme, and willing to put in the extra time and work necessary to ensure everything ran smoothly and the experience was positive for all. We are now actively seeking opportunities to work together again and developing future plans.”

The young people are now busy working remotely on editing the film which will explore how environment effects our culture. Once completed it will be released widely as a social media campaign. Watch this space!