Katie’s blog 1

PPP blog – following the summer in Freiburg by Katie Byford


When I first came across the audition advertisement for People Power Partnership (PPP) mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed I thought, this is too good to be true. A chance to create, perform, network, and travel at only the cost of my time? What was the catch? Despite my scepticism, I completed the application and booked my train ticket to Grimsby, and boy am I glad I did.


I was apprehensive to audition due to my limited training and/or experience in hip-hop and street dance. However, during the audition and creative stages of our small and big productions, the movement tasks are delivered focusing on our inner voices, feelings, and experiences, where the dance produced is a physical representation of these attitudes and beliefs. Creating in this way has led me to learn more about myself and my desires as a young person, and enabled me to voice my opinions on worldwide topical issues. Although working in this way can be alleviating, the sensitivity of these topics can also unveil emotions you did not even realise that you had buried. This certainly brought us closer as a group, uniting in our vulnerability, and nurturing each other through our difficulties. The community generated throughout the PPP project is like no other, strangers become friends all through a shared passion for The Arts. I have never felt so inspired, surrounded by many people all with different personalities, cultures and stories to tell. This only grew as we entered the creative stages of our big production in the summer of 2022 in Germany. 


Upon arriving in Freiburg, a piece of me instantly felt at home. I fell in love with the characterful streets and the individuality of each and every home and building, I fell in love with cycling, I fell in love with street parties and the locals who taught me to salsa, I fell in love with the beautiful lakes, mountains, rivers, and trees, I fell in love with my new home from home and the new family I was gifted with. 


We faced many challenges individually and collectively. Some days were long, the heat was exhausting, and a mixture of injuries and illnesses caused morale to dip. But that is the great thing about being surrounded by such a large group of people. On some days, when the burden seems too heavy, other people will help you with your load knowing that you will repay the favour. On other days all you needed was a refreshing beer post-rehearsal!


The set and technology are phenomenal. The artistic Team put in so much work behind the scenes. Their dedication is admirable. I have worked with projections before but I love how, in our big production, the dancers interact with the digital media displayed. Although challenging at times, it has been an extraordinary experience so far and certainly give the WOW factor.


A highlight for me will always be the backpack task we did at the end of the creative period of our small and big production. The task involves everyone having a piece of A3 paper stuck to their back. All participants simultaneously move around the room writing messages on other people’s backs. Once finished, the paper is removed and folded for you to take with you and read once you have returned home. It is such a moving activity that both inspired and motivated me to release my inhibitions and have the confidence to be and believe in myself. I shall always treasure these messages.


I am proud to say I know all these beautiful people across Europe as part of the PPP project. Spite them being fresh relationships, they are ones I truly trust and shall cherish for the rest of my life. I cannot wait for more adventures and to share our amazing production with all the partner cities.