On a weekend in late Spring 2019, Micro Rainbow’s monthly dance sessions went “on tour”. Visiting one of the UK’s most iconic cultural centres, the Tate Modern. A group of eight LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees spent two days submerging themselves in the artwork around them and out of this, creating dance to help reclaim their bodies and minds.
Micro Rainbow’s social inclusion programme
Micro Rainbow’s holistic support for LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees includes a social inclusion programme which builds community and reduces isolation. The asylum process is an isolating and stressful one which often involves reliving traumatic experiences of persecution and violence. LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees can often feel excluded from places where others might traditionally receive support, such as families, compatriots and religious spaces.
Micro Rainbow workshops, including dance, bring together LGBTI asylum seekers and refugees with shared experiences. These workshops help form life-long friendships and support networks. The weekend at the Tate Modern was one such occasion for the group to come together to learn and celebrate.
‘Sanctuary and Source’ at the Tate
In partnership with resident choreographers Stephanie and Jamie, and the team at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Micro Rainbow had the rare opportunity to use the beautiful Tate Exchange space. The home of the Tate Exchange is the fifth floor of the Blavatnik Building at Tate Modern. It is a place for workshops, talks, events, a place to play and create. High above the Thames, with light pouring in through encircling large windows. This was the perfect space for the group to build on their monthly sessions, shaping connections, closeness and relieving stress.
‘Sanctuary and Source’ was intended to echo the ideas established in Micro Rainbow’s Wetlands Project about sanctuary being a safe and protected haven. The source was the artwork participants saw around them as well as their own personal stories.
Each day began with a movement session and was followed by a tour of first, the Franz West exhibition and second, the Materials and Objects display. The group was encouraged to explore the exhibitions, particularly Franz West’s large-scale works and sculptures which they were encouraged to interact with. One particular piece, Schlieren, caught the group’s eye; a large blue, weaving and spiralling sculpture inspired many discussions of movement and art as well as memories.
Following the visit to the exhibitions, the group was encouraged to dance in response to the artwork. Motivated by what they had seen, the group worked together to choreograph impressive pieces.
LGBTI asylum share their thoughts
For Ericky, an asylum seeker from Tanzania, the weekend felt like much more than a dance session.
“It was an introduction for me to be able to look at art at a deeper level and for me to see that we are surrounded by art in our daily lives without realising.”
The weekend came at a pivotal time for Gharib.
“I enjoyed it very much because it took me out of my depression and stress at that time. I was feeling comfortable with people and felt new energy.”
Each member of the group was especially moved. The weekend’s experience and what they had learnt from each other, and about themselves. Micro Rainbow hopes to continue finding new and exciting spaces as emotive as the Tate Exchange in which to work, play and explore.
We run social inclusion activities every week. If you are an LGBTI asylum seeker or refugee and you would like to take part in an upcoming workshop, please contact our Social inclusion team and sign up to our beneficiary newsletter to receive regular updates on Micro Rainbow’s social inclusion programme.