Denice Delgado - Copywriter, Author and Mental Health Campaigner (pictured above wearing her London Marathon 2017 medal)
"During 2013, I joined the front of house volunteer team at Déda. Being a mum of two teenage daughters, who performed for Studio 86, Heat Academy and Flex Studio dancing was a prominent activity.
Being a volunteer gave me motivation and helped me tremendously. On a personal level, I was fighting my own mental health struggles. What’s lovely about volunteering is giving your time, and a feeling of appreciation. The result is making friends.
During January 2017, I joined the HeadsTogether campaign, co-ordinated by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. As an Ambassador of one of the charity partners YoungMinds, I accepted the challenge of running the London Virgin Money Marathon.
YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed for improving the wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.
It has been an amazing opportunity as well as raising awareness of mental health but also supporting real people facing mental health challenges.
I ran this year’s marathon with pride wearing my HeadsTogether headband. Following this, I’m continuing the momentum with the next physical challenge!"
What does that word mean to you?
A crime? Witness to a signature?
It’s just a word. Witness.
And yet, a single word can have power!
In 5 years, or even 10 years’ time, I’m still going to remember the impact of this performance.
The Company Chameleon presented ‘Witness’, on 18th May at Deda.
On a personal level, I was looking forward to the dance performance. On a deeper level, I was slightly anxious of emotions being triggered, but intrigued how the choreography would be performed.
Some of us may assume, ‘it’s just people dancing on stage’
But is it?
The production commences with two people moving on stage. One person moving the other, totally in control of the other person’s body movements. Forcing the person to the floor with indirect force. Creating vulnerability and closeness, yet a distant despair of being deserted.
Voices are heard.
‘You are nothing. You are less than nothing’
A sinister laugh captures the torment and horror of what it is truly like living with a mental illness. Haunting voices clearly demonstrate a contrast between reality and turmoil, and the deep cycle of a controlling mind.
Two voices, one person. A constant battle inside the mind of one person.
‘I am a millionaire. I have the power’
‘I can’t do this. Look at me, I’m nothing. I should give up’
Which is the stronger voice?
They are just voices. But to a person suffering, it can be over whelming. Mr Kevin Turner captures the internal battle. The energy it encompasses preventing a person to ask for help. Truly remarkable.
During a scene, ‘flash’ is played. Kevin believes he is ‘the master’. His other voice tells him ‘to give up’.
His loved ones observe the deterioration in his well-being and daily decision making. The destruction of suffering in silence. The evidence of lost years displayed through harrowing music sounding like breaking tree branches. The sharpness of pain expressed in movement.
Stigma and discrimination of mental illness surround his loved ones. Our brains are association making machines.
So, when we hear the words, ‘mental health’..
What do we conjure up?
If Kevin could have felt it was ok to speak up sooner, his anguish could have been minimised. His loved ones felt his path of destruction through the look in his eyes.
‘Witness’ produced by the talent of Company Chameleon is what made it outstanding.
On a personal level, it was evident to relate to living with a mental illness. I could feel the vulnerability. When a person has experienced daily struggles and has the ability to express creatively. That person is ready and emotionally aware. It’s the word ‘emotions’
‘Witness’ gets to the heart of emotions. Instead of sticking a plaster to cover up wounds, Mr Kevin Turner finds the real him.
It takes being sectioned to receive help. To give him direction and the framework to recover.
So, what can we learn from ‘Witness’?
It’s more than dancers moving on stage. It’s much, much more!
Dance can have the power to communicate. An inspirational and controlled piece of art. Feelings are meant to be felt. We go to the dentist with toothache. Let’s go to a therapist to get our minds sorted.
In the final scene, Kevin is surrounded by dancers holding his body to give him support. He’s falling and being helped. He’s seeing things in his brain in a controlled framework.
He is standing and not falling. Kevin has the ability to stand alone."
On Friday 19th May, patients at the Radbourne Unit, a mental health care unit in Derby, welcomed Déda and Company Chameleon to perform and deliver a dance workshop. Find out more here.