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Banwell bones come to life

More than 85 young dancers used the famous fossil site at Banwell Bone Cave in North Somerset as inspiration in creating 'Bones', a site-specific dance-for-camera film.

19th July 2009 - 13th September 2009

Students from Churchill Community School, Banwell and Hutton Primary Schools were joined by a professional dancer and other experts for the project, which incorporated the 70,000-year-old fossils of Banwell Bone Cave, The Folly Tower, Banwell Church and surrounding woods and landscape.  

The young performers mixed fact and fiction about the cave as a creative starting-point in devising a story which begins in the North Somerset Museum Service archives in Weston-super-Mare and travels to a mysterious gravestone on Banwell Hill. The overarching theme of mystery and the power of nature is translated into dance, drama, film and music. 

'Bones' was directed by freelance dance consultant Carolyn Savidge, who is also a Specialist Schools & Academies Trust Lead Practitioner and Arts Co-ordinator. Her production team includes talented 19-year-old James Scriven, a former Churchill School pupil who recently composed the music for Breathing Spaces Yeo! 09. The work was premiered at London’s Mermaid Theatre as part of the National Youth Dance England Conference.  

Choreographer and teacher Shelley Withers from Churchill Community School, winner of this year’s Global Rock Challenge creativity award, will be devising the movement sequences, and film-maker Richard Tomlinson will be behind the camera capturing the spectacular images. 

Professional contemporary dancer Jessamin Landamore, who has performed at Sadlers Wells and in site-specific dance, drama and operatic works throughout Europe, makes a cameo appearance in the film. 

A core aspect of the production has been the amount of research it entailed. Director Carolyn Savidge was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and support she and her production team received from staff at the North Somerset Museum in Weston-super-Mare, the owners of the Banwell Bone Caves, and the local community and church.  

"They have all been truly amazing," Carolyn said. "We've been met with tremendous interest from everyone we approached.  

"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." 

Filming took place between 10am and 5pm on Sunday 19th and Monday 20th July. 'Bones' will be screened at Banwell Bone Cave and other venues on 12th -13th September as part of National Heritage day. The project is funded by Churchill Community and Foundation School and Find Your Talent North Somerset pathfinder.