Crossing the Divide

Crossing the Divide focuses on cross-community work.  It uses dance, with all  its physical, emotional, and cognitive demands, as a tool to provide people with a safe environment in which to let go of fears and prejudices and begin building contact based on our common humanity.  This approach has been successfully used in many different contexts, including those where participants are experiencing inter-community conflict.

Ongoing Work:

Belfast Boys (Ongoing)

Belfast Boys Physical Dance Theatre was set up in September 2017 as a cross-community group for boys. The group is aimed at ages 7 – 16. Since 2019 Belfast Boys has been based in The Crescent Arts Centre. 

It is often difficult for boys to opt to get involved in dance and other creative activities, as they are encouraged towards sports instead. If they do get involved they are often the only boy in a class full of girls. By setting up Belfast Boys we want to positively discriminate towards them, spark their interest, and help them to see dance as a skilful, physically challenging and enjoyable activity.

This summer we are fundraising to support our Belfast Boys seniors to perform at U.Dance in Newcastle, 21-23 July 2023.  This is a great opportunity as they will be the only group representing Northern Ireland and Ireland.  All donations are warmly received – just follow the link here.

Annual Primary Schools Dance Festival  (Ongoing)

The festival provides the opportunity for children from communities across Belfast to meet and share their work in a non-competitive environment. It is a chance for them to perform in a professional theatre setting and to see and meet guest professional dance artists. Working in partnership with Education Authority NI, the festival takes place each year in May.  Over 200 children take part in the festival.

Past Projects:

Belfast Boys Performances (2018-2022)

Belfast Boys have performed as part of  the Primary School Dance Festival, Youth Action, Open Space/Open Up, Belfast Book Festival at Crescent Arts Centre and in the public realm at the Ulster Museum, in the Botanic Gardens and by the Belfast buoys in Titanic Quarter.   

Newtownards Flash Mob (Ards and North Down, 2019)

This project involved a series of workshops culminating in an outdoor flashmob featuring 200 children to raise awareness of the effects of single-use plastics. This event was part of Ards and North Down Borough Council’s summer scheme programme and funded by the council’s Recycling Community Investment Fund (RCIF).

Merge Cru Youth Engagement Project  (Belfast, 2012 – 2017)

Following the company’s performance project eMERGEncy (October 2011), DU Dance set up Merge Cru, a cross-community youth engagement project based in Belfast. The group takes part in festivals and performs nationally and internationally. In July 2014 it represented Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow. Other performances have included: Outer Edge (2014), Common Ground (2013), Herding (2013), Trust (2013), Merging (2012).  This group has now been re-established as Belfast Boys

Peace Walls  (Belfast, May 2015)

A workshop and performance programme involving four dancers, focusing on contested space, specifically the peace walls in Northern Ireland and across the world.

Escape (March-May 2013)

A professional performance and workshop programme, which visited schools and youth groups across Belfast.

MERGE  (Belfast 2011 – 2015)

MERGE a three-year-long cross-community workshop and performance project, targeting young unemployed people and young people aged 14 to 24 living in inner-city areas. The project blended youth culture with contemporary and urban dance.

Arts & Business NI Awards Ceremony (Ulster Hall, Belfast, February 2015)

An extract of eMERGEncy, delivered in collaboration with NI Opera and Square Pit Productions, was presented as the finale of this prestigious awards ceremony.

North Belfast Merge (Waterworks Park, Belfast, October 2013)

Young people from across north Belfast performed at the lantern parade in Belfast’s Waterworks Park to an audience of over 4,000 people. The project was delivered for New Lodge Arts.

eMERGEncy (T13, Titanic Quarter, Belfast, October 2011)

An intensive, spectacular skill-based dance/music workshop programme, leading to five public performances at Titanic Quarter’s T13 by young people from inner city areas in Belfast.   The production, which formed part of the programme of the 2011 Belfast International Arts Festival,  integrated contemporary dance and street dance with skateboarding, bmx bikes, rap music and opera. The Belfast Telegraph described it as ‘impressive’ and a ‘visual feast’.

Shared Education Programme (Ballymoney, 2011- 2013)

This three year long workshop and performance programme was organised in conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast and included schools in Ballymoney.

Sparking the Imagination (Jan – Dec 2011)

A research programme, exploring levels of self esteem in young children, was delivered for the University of Ulster’s department of education and psychology.  It involved three inner city primary schools in Belfast.

Reach.In Out (Belfast, 2006-2009)

A longitudinal programme, delivered with the aim of widening access to dance and other art forms, examined the impact of creativity on the lives of young people living in the heart of a post-conflict society. The programme was underpinned by a strong element of research and evaluation completed in conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast. Working with 67 children from two schools in north Belfast over a period of  three years, performances included: The Wren (Ulster Hall, Belfast, June 2009), Around Town (Belfast, March 2009), Gaudette (St. Mary’s Catholic Church & Seaview Presbyterian Church, Belfast, December 2007), Storming Stormont (Parliament House, Belfast, October 2007), Quest (Waterfront Hall, Belfast, May 2007), Storyline (schools performances, June 2006)