"We set up our own physical theatre company through the Liberdade project."
In 2003, our current chief executive was working with Opaxoro in Salvador, Brazil, which was then the only professional company of learning disabled dancers in the country. One day, sat on a hot step outside the dance studio, he asked the dancers what it meant to be involved with the company.
“It gives us liberdade,” they replied. It was there, in the baking sun of South America that the seeds of Liberdade, an arts organisation that enables people with learning disabilities to run their own company in the North East of England, were sown.
The Company of Dance and Percussion Opaxoro, Apae Salvador, was established in 1991 with the initial objective of making the Bahian folklore, inaugurating a new experience: people with disabilities began to carry out work involving the responsibility of artistic creation and execution, with amazing results. To APAE these results have shown a new path in the pursuit of personal and professional integration of these people in their relationship with society and the labor market.
On returning to the UK, we set about turning the dream of an apprenticeship which would enable people with learning disabilities to learn to set up and run their own physical theatre company into a reality. Lawnmowers independent theatre company, one of the North-East’s leading disability arts organisations, invited us to use their facilities. With their help, and funding from the ESF Equal Partnership, we had the Liberdade apprenticeship scheme up and running by September 2003 and were able to constitute Liberdade North East CIC as an independent organisation in April 2008.
Liberdade (Pronounced lib-er-dar-ji) believes in using physical theatre as a means of exploring the world and as a way of sharing these explorations with others. Using elements of movement, theatre and dance physical theatre provides a way of using both the mind and the body.
Physical theatre draws upon the strength of the Liberdade company and fully uses their training in exercise, diet, fitness, dance and theatre. They are both educators as well as performers. Using the arts allows the Liberdade company to utilise coaching, training and performance methods to engage people in an interactive facilitated environment.