CREATIVES AND CREDITS
Choreographer: Eliot Smith
Composer: Jason Holcomb
Costume & Set Design: Eliot Smith
Premiered on 27 November 2018 at The Sage, Gateshead
Funded and Supported by Arts Council England and Northumberland Arts Development
Created in collaboration with The Royal British Legion
Eliot Smith describes the work;
Early in the First World War, soldiers noticed blankets of red poppies were the first sign of life to appear on the devastated battlefields of the Western Front. In early May 1915, shortly after losing a friend in Ypres, a Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae noticed poppies pushing through the newly dug graves. It produced a creative outburst which led John to write the now famous poem called 'In Flanders Fields'.
In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high,
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' Fields.
The poem inspired an American academic, Professor Moina Michael, to make and sell red silk poppies which were brought to England by a French woman, Anna Guérin. The Royal British Legion, formed in 1921, ordered 9 million of these poppies and sold them on 11 November that year. The money raised supported the welfare of veterans and provided care for their families. 100 years on and the Poppy Appeal still raises funds for this purpose.
The poppy is not a symbol of death, though some see the colour as emblematic of the blood spilled on the battlefield or a sign of support for war, nor is it a reflection of politics or religion. The poppy is a symbol of Remembrance and Hope and is worn by millions of people. The colour red symbolises the natural colour of field poppies.
POPPY is a retrospective and abstract look at war and conflict and the sacrifices made by those affected and, like John McCrae, it is inspired by the flower. The dance captures the spirit, using contemporary and athletic movement and set to a specially commissioned score - Sacrification, for trombone ensemble and percussion by American trombonist, band leader, and composer Jason Holcomb.
POPPY is dedicated to those currently serving in the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families and dependants. Live on.