This is the City
Behind the scenes at This is the City parade rehearsals.
Film by Coventry City of Culture Trust.
This is the City saw 1,000 local people parade through Coventry city centre in May 2022 as part of Coventry City of Culture's finale weekend. It re-created in parade format the projects that the people of Coventry had produced with the City of Culture with communities and cultural organisations - in big venues, community spaces, and outdoor locations, including streets and parks. The parade was in 12 parts - which corresponded to each month and a theme - and it brought out the city to celebrate the diversity, creativity, and spirit of this wonderful city.
I was a co-producer for this large-scale outdoor event, delivering 3 of the 12 sections: Harmony, Coventry in the World, and City of Light. I worked with more than 300 stakeholders in community organisations, artists, dancers, singers to create a spectacle that brought out more than 10,000 Coventry residents and received national media attention from the Observer to the One Show.
I worked with Coventry's Caribbean Centre and Arawak Community Trust to re-create Caribbean Reggae Fever and the Sound Systems projects. Now internationally-famous, Sisters in Dub joined other DJs and dancers for this energetic and joyful section that saw residents dancing to the beats and in awe at the enormous and colourful costumes that made this parade a national spectacle.
Coventry in the World
I brought together groups who performed in the festival's opening ceremony, Coventry Moves, and other community groups for performances to celebrate Coventry's internationalism. Circus Raj and the Raj Brass Band performed incredible stunts and played music, and participants from the International Children's Games waved flags from all over the world. I brought back two of Coventry's world-famous Irish dance schools, the city's Ska dancers, Bollywood and Bhangra dancers, and a troupe of Bulgarian dancers, who danced in traditional costumes.
City of Light
Recreating Abundance - a parade full of community members in Foleshill in November 2021 - I re-united the groups who sang, played drums, and danced through Coventry City Centre in fabulous costumes, celebrating Asian cultures, music, and dance. Nor Aziz's Legion of Warriors paraded with Amisha Patel's Indian dancers.
The above video shows some footage from some of the rehearsals with the groups, where I worked with choreographers to synthesise the often radically different styles and priorities of the groups into a single parade about coventry, the largest the city had seen for a generation.