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Watch: Underwater dance film explores what it's like living with depression

Royal Ballet Principal dancer Francesca Hayward dances in a new underwater film choreographed by Charlotte Edmonds.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

10 January 2018 at 10.22am | 28 Comments

In a new film, directed by Louis-Jack and choreographed by Charlotte Edmonds, Principal dancer Francesca Hayward is pictured dancing in an underwater studio to depict the struggle of someone suffering from depression.

Edmonds, who trained at The Royal Ballet School, explained: 'Having started training so young, and starting a career at such a young age - there is a lot of pressure to succeed. I never wanted to let anyone down, especially myself.

'As an athlete and a performer, you become very critical of yourself, always striving to be the best you can be. When I was training, I went through some phases where I felt I had hit rock bottom - it certainly affected my self esteem and confidence. I found myself suffering in silence and never felt encouraged to speak out about my mental health.

'This is why I am passionate about this cause - there should be no shame in admitting you don’t feel you can keep your head above the water.'

Before approaching the director, Edmonds had a clear vision the dance piece needed to be performed underwater. She took inspiration from a self-portrait by artist Ian Cumberland, which shows a fully-clothed man submerged in a bath.

'If you've ever worn clothes underwater, you'll know you feel very heavy and struggle to move,' she said. 'Every movement takes an extra bit of force and you are battling against gravity to avoid sinking further away from the surface of the water making it harder to take a large breath of air, and breathe, before your body feels drained. I wanted to channel this effect into the choreography, this heavy-weighted feeling.'

Both Edmonds and Louis-Jack hope the film will provoke conversations about mental illness, especially among young people and students.

By Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media))

10 January 2018 at 10.22am

This article has been categorised Ballet and tagged Charlotte Edmonds, choreography, depression, Francesca Hayward, Louis-Jack, mental health

This article has 28 comments

  1. Jane Emberson. responded on 10 January 2018 at 3:23pm Reply

    So beautiful, it made me cry.

  2. Edwina Young responded on 10 January 2018 at 7:53pm Reply

    Simply beautiful and poetic music xx

  3. Dorothy responded on 10 January 2018 at 8:50pm Reply

    Stunning.

  4. Dorothy responded on 10 January 2018 at 8:50pm Reply

    Just stunning.

  5. Nick responded on 10 January 2018 at 9:40pm Reply

    How can such a short piece be so beautiful, powerful, so dreadfully sad?

    Wonderful work.

  6. Reazul Huq responded on 10 January 2018 at 10:48pm Reply

    Vackert as thet say in Sweden

  7. Emily responded on 10 January 2018 at 11:01pm Reply

    Incredible. Very moving.

  8. Kay Kendall responded on 10 January 2018 at 11:19pm Reply

    I recognised myself in this beautifully choreographed dance and I cried

  9. Heather Prophet responded on 11 January 2018 at 11:32am Reply

    Really excellent piece of work. Congratulations to all involved. Frankie looks superb; and I loved the music.

  10. Trish Brown responded on 11 January 2018 at 6:58pm Reply

    This is simply WONDERFUL choreography and so perfectly expressed by Frankie Hayward. What a sensitive and expressive performance! What about her face in the last scene? Didn't that just sum up the whole ballet in exactly the right way? I'm SUCH a fan of this young dancer!

  11. Antonio Vargas responded on 12 January 2018 at 2:41am Reply

    Love the score and the concept.The water movement creates magic.

  12. Andrew Morison responded on 12 January 2018 at 8:49am Reply

    Intensely moving. I will be recommending all my friends to watch the film.

  13. Wendy responded on 12 January 2018 at 12:51pm Reply

    The atmospheric tone really mesmerises and with Francesca's beautiful interpretation to the music and water makes for a superb piece of ballet.

  14. Claire responded on 13 January 2018 at 2:24pm Reply

    Gasping for breath. Tears.
    A beautiful expression of the agony of depression. Thank you

  15. Julianne White responded on 13 January 2018 at 8:22pm Reply

    Suffering from mental health myself. It is good that people can put it into a dance. 'Sink or Swim.' With Depression the sinking is the worst part. You can't at that point swim and the dance shows that

  16. Alex responded on 13 January 2018 at 9:25pm Reply

    Well it took me back to what i have lived a few years ago. I am still fighting against those feeling and it is so good to watch that video that testify, that show in such a beautifull way what we are ashame to tell, what we can't say even if we try... very powerful one

  17. What a beautiful way to help destigmatize depression! Thank you so much for creating this. It depicts so well how my patients describe their everyday life.

  18. Jane Clapinson responded on 14 January 2018 at 9:19am Reply

    Simply pure. Wonderful.

  19. janet responded on 14 January 2018 at 9:25am Reply

    marvellous I was entranced

  20. Payton responded on 15 January 2018 at 2:53pm Reply

    I've only just begun to look into ballet and wow. Can I just say that this is definitely not what I expected, in the best way possible. I didn't know that mental illness could be expressed so acurately through dance. Maybe I'll show this to my parents so they can understand what I'm going through better.

  21. Angela Eden responded on 15 January 2018 at 7:30pm Reply

    So moving and accurately reflected.

  22. Jennifer Collins responded on 19 January 2018 at 4:33pm Reply

    So beautiful and moving.

  23. Susan Woolcott responded on 20 January 2018 at 6:18pm Reply

    In all her dance roles, Frankie is perceptive and sensitive and, thus, she is the perfect choice to portray the necessary feelings in Sink or Swim - loved the music too

  24. Armando Costa responded on 23 January 2018 at 4:18am Reply

    Superb

  25. Susan Finch responded on 23 January 2018 at 5:56pm Reply

    I too was mesmerised and surprised at this amazing piece of choreography so sensitively and beautifully danced by our lovely Francesca Hayward. What a pity more people can’t have access to this incredible piece of dance.
    Thank you

  26. Iren responded on 10 February 2018 at 6:54am Reply

    Where can I watch it? It's a great work with a big cause! Francesca is perfect for the role.

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