Power of performance helps Chester woman combat anxiety
Storyhouse’s residence company Fallen Angels Dance Theatre (FADT) exists to support those in recovery from addiction to transform their lives and to share the recovery journey with the wider public, through dance, performance and creativity. Here we share Laura’s story on how the power of performance has enabled her to ditch conventional medication for anxiety and depression and given her strategies to cope with her condition.
Laura Ferris, a dancer with Chester-based company Fallen Angels Dance Theatre (FADT), is part of the community recovery group which will perform Rituals for the Great Get Together at Storyhouse later this month. This will be the first time Fallen Angels have performed on the main stage at the venue.
Laura, 31, joined Fallen Angels in January this year after the company’s executive director Claire Morris visited her peer support group SMILE (Supportive Mates in Life Exist), based in Chester city centre, which helps people anxiety and depression.
Laura, who also has an autism diagnosis, said: “I used to go months without seeing anyone except my civil partner Sam. I was so anxious about going out and being in social occasions that she would have to do everything for me, even my shopping.
“Since joining Fallen Angels and SMILE my life has changed massively. For the first time in a very long time, I have a group of friends I can rely on and this has had a massive impact on my mental health.”
Laura is no stranger to performing arts which she studied at West Cheshire College as a teenager.
She said: “I thought that ship had sailed but I realise now it had just been anchored in the dock. I would have said I couldn’t dance but Paul [Fallen Angels Artistic Director] is so clever and has made me appreciate that dance can be such good fun. Working with Fallen Angels has opened up my mind and I have even started creative writing again. It has had such an effect on me that I have been able to stop taking the medication I was given from the doctors.”
Performed by Fallen Angels’ Community Recovery group, Rituals is a powerful piece of dance theatre, based on the rituals the dancers use to support their well-being and recovery.
Paul Bayes-Kitcher, artistic director of Fallen Angels, said: “It is great to hear Laura being so positive about the project. The whole group has had such a huge input into the performance and it will be a momentous occasion for us all when we step out on Storyhouse’s prestigious main stage for the first time to share our work.”
The free performance of Rituals, at 2pm on Thursday, June 20, will be followed by a question and answer session, chaired by Claire Morris, on the benefits of performance art in helping people living in social isolation. The performance and Q&A are supported by the National Lottery’s Awards for All and everyone is welcome to attend.
The annual festival The Great Get Together is at Storyhouse every June, in partnership with Brightlife, also funded by the National Lottery, is a week-long celebration of free events and activities to celebrate all ‘we have in common’. It is part of a wide range of community events and activities taking place across the UK – including picnics, BBQs and street parties – inspired by the late MP Jo Cox, figurehead of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness.