The Seafarers at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The Seafarers ensemble includes 20 professional and 40 community dancers
The Seafarers ensemble includes 20 professional and 40 community dancers
As You Like It, with Jessica Hayles centre. Picture by Keith Pattison

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The Portsmouth Festivites is currently in full swing, but tomorrow marks the climactic event in the festival’s calendar – a dance celebrating Portsmouth’s maritime heritage.

Samantha Worsey, associate producer of the Portsmouth Festivities, says this piece is the best the festival has seen during her tenure.

‘In the last year, there have been developments in the city regarding boatbuilding – good, bad and ugly. We wanted to come up with an artistic response to Portsmouth’s shipbuilding heritage,’ she says.

The result is The Seafarers, a contemporary dance which includes 20 professional dancers from Stopgap Dance company alongside 60 community dancers.

Dressed in boiler suits, the ensemble will use percussion and movement to explore the sights and sounds of shipbuilding in a set dressed with maritime antiques, including 100 metre-long coils of rope donated by the Historic Dockyard and a ship’s mast.

Stopgap is renowned for using disabled and non-disabled artists in their works, and The Seafarers’ dance ensemble includes young adults with different abilities from Highbury College.

Boatbuilding has been in the city since the 16th century, and this skill will be lost if we do not educate young people

Samantha Worsey

‘People of all ages and needs should engage with our heritage,’ says Samantha.

‘Boatbuilding has been in the city since the 16th century, and this skill will be lost if we do not educate young people. I think our dancers now know a little bit more about our history.’

The Seafarers is at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Saturday, June 27 and Sunday, June 28 at 8pm. Tickets: £5 adults, £3 concessions and under-18‘s. To book visit portsmouthfestivities.co.uk or call (023) 9282 8282.