Cultural Learning Alliance

When you live with degradation depleting your resources, the magical artistic experience becomes a source of hope; a vision beyond the despair, an indication of how bad could be transformed into better

Camila Batmangelidjh
Founder and Director, Kids Company

Practice

Banwell's Bones Dance into the World's Oldest Cinema!

Carolyn Savidge was a Lead Practitioner Coordinator for the arts with the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust and supported the Find Your Talent North Somerset programme by directing Bones, a unique dance-for-camera film shot on location at Banwell Bone Cave, near Cheddar Gorge in North Somerset.

Her production team included talented 19-year-old composer James Scriven, who recently composed the music for Breathing Spaces Yeo! 09, premiered at London’s Mermaid Theatre as part of the National Youth Dance England Conference. Churchill Community School teacher Shelley Withers, winner of this year’s Global Rock Challenge creativity award, choreographed the movement sequences.

More than 85 young dancers -students from three local schools- used the famous Banwell Bone Cave fossil site as inspiration in creating Bones, by film-maker Richard Tomlinson, which premiered at the historic Curzon Community Cinema in Clevedon, North Somerset – the oldest continuously operated cinema in the world. The Curzon first opened its doors in 1912, and films have been presented on the site ever since.

The young performers mixed fact and fiction about the cave to devise a plot which begins when a young girl opens a mysterious box in the archives of the North Somerset Museum in Weston-super-Mare. Bones also features a cameo appearance by professional dancer Jessamin Landamore as the mysterious Woman In Black, who draws the young girl towards a mysterious gravestone on Banwell Hill. The story translates the power of nature into dance, drama, music and film, and incorporates the 70,000-year-old fossils of Banwell Bone Cave, The Folly Tower, Banwell Church and surrounding woods and landscape.

Banwell Bone Cave, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, was opened in 1824 on land owned by George Henry Law, the then Bishop of Bath and Wells, who regarded the fossilised bones as being the remains of animals drowned in Noah’s flood. The Natural History Museum has since identified the bones as being those of animals living in the Pleistocene (Ice Age) some 70,000 years ago.

Carolyn Savidge was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support she and her production team received from the owners of the Banwell Bone Caves, the local community and Church, and staff at the North Somerset Museum in Weston-super-Mare.

“It has been really exciting to work so closely with the children and young people on this innovative project. Thanks to the support we have received, we will now see an archaeological local history project come alive through individual interpretation and personal expression”, she said.

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