This month, heritage and dance will come together for Spin a Tale. Constella OperaBallet have joined forces with the community of Darley Abbey in Derbyshire to bring its unique heritage to life.
Darley Abbey is a suburban village that’s cherished for its preserved industrial heritage. And through a series of seven short films — filled with dance, music and drama — its history will come to life. Spin A Tale has been made in collaboration with the residents of Darley Abbey. Singers, dancers and actors from Constella OperaBallet will perform alongside local choirs, the Derby-based Déda Youth Company, the University of Derby, and local primary schools. The piece brings together several hundred people in this incredible multi-disciplinary celebration of the arts.
Darley Abbey and Spin a Tale
Darley Abbey is home to the most complete surviving 18th Century Mill complex in the world, built by the Evans family. Spin a Tale’s series of ‘Moments’ will highlight different aspects of the Abbey’s history, including the mill workers, architecture, nature, community, the River Derwent and the village’s place in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The films include Water Hymn, an opera-ballet performance celebrating the power of water. It pays homage to the unceasing energy of the River Derwent, that gave power to the former cotton industry. Whilst Tangled is a contemporary dance, shot in beautiful slow motion. It features a solo dancer entwined in thread. And Brick Row is a music-drama, showcasing a snapshot of 18th century life in Darley Abbey.
Darley Abbey Day
In partnership with Darley Abbey Day 2021 and Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, Spin a Tale includes the premiere of Darley Abbey’s very own song. It’s performed by children at Walter Evans Primary School.
Darley Abbey Day will also feature giant decorated bobbins and threads of bunting, all created in collaboration with the local community. Organisers of Darley Abbey Day are inviting people to find their favourite Bunting Flag and ‘Count the Bobbins’, which will be installed in the village from Saturday 8th to Sunday 23rd May. The oversized Bobbin installations will be located in Darley Abbey. Together with bunting made by the local community, responding to the themes of Spin A Tale. It’s all part of a socially-distanced trail around the village.
Who are Constella?
Constella are the world’s only company dedicated to opera-ballet and they create cutting-edge, interdisciplinary performances for everyone to watch. The company was founded by the award-winning composer and conductor Leo Geyer. Constella brings together pioneering musicians, dancers, visual artists, historians, garden designers, architects, poets, and costume-makers. They perform in theatres, at site-specific locations and broadcast to the world by embracing the possibilities of virtual performance. And Spin a Tale is their latest production.
The Great Place Scheme
The Spin a Tale event is part of the Great Place Scheme. This scheme is a programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England, and supported by Historic England. The idea is to help arts and culture have a big impact on local economies, jobs, education, community cohesion and health and wellbeing. And that’s something we could all benefit from right now. Especially when the government is cutting funding to the arts, which it deems to be non-essential to work and wellbeing (boo).
The Great Place Scheme is designed to inspire and enable people to have a sense of pride in and belonging to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Its programme aims to shine a light on this special place. Spin a Tale is the finale of the programme’s events. And it’s free to watch.
About the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site
In December 2001, the Derwent Valley Mills in Derbyshire was added to UNESCO World Heritage List. And it’s currently the only World Heritage Site in the East Midlands. This area’s heritage is important as it’s the birthplace of the factory system, where in the 18th century water power was successfully harnessed for textile production.
Stretching 15 miles (or 24km) down the river valley from Matlock Bath to Derby, the World Heritage Site contains a fascinating series of historic mill complexes, including some of the World’s first ‘modern’ factories such as Cromford Mills, Masson Mill, Strutts North Mill and Derby Silk Mill. If you’ve never been to this area, it’s definitely worth a visit.
When: From 8th May 2021
Where: Watch online