The Charivari is an annual parade that has been organised by Brigitte Orasinski of Strange Cargo since 2001.
Strange Cargo teams work with school and community groups in workshops to create giant puppets. The participant costumes are created in primary schools following teachers masterclasses. The procession winds it’s way though the streets of Folkestone accompanied by fabulous carnival bands and attracting a huge following audience.
2019 was my third Charivari. I think it’s my favourite Folkestone event but I couldn’t help noticing the previous years that I was almost the only one dancing. One of my first actions on setting up Folkestone dance was to set up a meeting with Brigitte to ask could we work with the participating groups to help them develop simple choreographies this year. In characteristic fashion her response was entirely positive and proactive. Sophie and I were invited to the teachers masterclass costume making workshops order to meet as many of them as we could in person to make our suggestion. We again met a very positive response and Sophie and I facilitated dance workshops based on the Charivari themes in 7 primary and 2 special needs schools. Sophie and I created a simple framework together then we worked with the interests and pleasures of the participant groups and in collaboration with the students, teachers and carers created simple scores based on Alice in Wonderland, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, Godzilla and Robots.
For the Charivari day itself (July 6th) Sophie and I donned our Folkestone dance baseball hats and “Insecurity” Hi-Viz vests and Ethan Sheppard helped us to make mock Film Crew accessories and we danced up and down the parade proudly encouraging our participants wonderful efforts. It was an absolute joy and felt like a real achievement seeing so many of them really take ownership of the movements they had helped us to create and teaching them to their comrades. Some teachers were also particularly enthusiastic. It was obvious to me that there was a palpable difference in engagement and agency during the carnival between the groups we had and hadn’t worked with. Brigitte and the teachers (and we) are keen to continue and expand this practice into next year, Brigitte said “This is what we were missing” and one excited teacher said “Next year we’ll get the parents dancing too!”
A really fun and satisfying experience. A real achievement.