New Internationalist

PHOTO ESSAY: a sense of company

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David Severn kicks off our mini photo series on ‘Local Community projects’ by capturing the connection between young people and their surroundings as experienced through dance.

Working with different community groups in Nottingham, this project explores young people’s relationships with dance. The photographs focus in particular on the social aspect of being involved in a shared creative experience. Central to the story of these adolescents’ experiences, a sense of place is imbued throughout, recalling a connection between young people and their surroundings.

For one week in May 2013, I collaborated with Birmingham Royal Ballet whose community outreach team were running ballet workshops in the St Ann’s and Sneinton neighbourhoods of Nottingham. Many involved in these sessions had never been exposed to a dance class before and I sought to capture them tentatively making sense of the new experience, one that is rare in underprivileged communities due to its elitist perception and appeal.

The project was commissioned and coordinated by The Renewal Trust, a community development trust who work to improve the social conditions in their neighbourhood. Community groups involved included the St Ann’s Scouts, Nottingham Brazilian Soccer Squad and students from Nottingham Academy School.

David Severn
Ky in his Scouts uniform - St Ann's, Nottingham. David Severn
David Severn
Nottingham Academy Students waiting outside the sports hall for their ballet class. David Severn
David Severn
Enok on his scooter - Sycamore Community Centre, St Ann's, Nottingham. David Severn
David Severn
Nicole and Savannah - Sycamore Community Centre, St Ann's, Nottingham. David Severn
David Severn
Ballet class at Nottingham Academy School with Lee, Community Workshop leader from Birmingham Royal Ballet. David Severn
David Severn
Ethan with his Mum after Ballet class - St Ann's, Nottingham. David Severn
David Severn
Nottingham Academy Students rehearsing their first position. David Severn
David Severn
Savannah and Nicole putting on their makeup in preparation for their final performance - George Street Theatre, Nottingham. David Severn

David Severn is a social documentary and fine art photographer based in Nottingham, UK. His work is concerned with the relationship between people and place. More specifically, how individuals and communities interact with or are affected by their environment. Within this context, he is particularly interested in working class culture and the places associated with it, both historically and today.

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