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Fabulous flamingos bring Costa prize poetry to life

April 25th, 2016

Innovative young performers took to the stage dressed as fabulous flamingos to interpret their English teacher’s powerful Costa award-winning poetry through the medium of dance.

Sixteen girls between Year 7 and Year 13 at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls took on the guise of beautiful neon pink birds to bring Jonathan Edwards’ Flamingos to life.

flamingos3The poem, which features in Mr Edwards’ Costa Poetry Prize winning book My Family and Other Superheroes, is an uplifting piece about overcoming bullies and being proud of who you are.

Following a performance at Bournemouth International Centre in the Easter holidays as part of Rotary’s annual conference, the dancers performed the piece to the whole of HMSG on Friday morning.

Rhyan Parry, Head of Dance at HMSG, played a bullying marabou stork along with dance teacher Zoe Pritchard.

She said: “We started this co-curricular project in September and the girls have been researching Mr Edwards’ poem and studying flamingos – their display movements, how they behave.

“It’s a holistic way of teaching and learning.

“There was real diversity within the group. Just like with any flock, there are different sizes and ages.”

The girls practised every Monday night over two terms for the performance in Bournemouth, which began with Mr Edwards reading his poem while flamingos flexed in the background.

Ms Parry added: “The project came about because my hairdresser has big connections within Rotary nationally.flamingos6

“She was looking for arts projects in the Valleys, where Mr Edwards is from. That’s why we all connected.

“The performance had to take place somewhere near saltwater, flamingos wouldn’t have it any other way. So Bournemouth was perfect.

“Real life isn’t all pink and fluffy. The marabou storks are there as a contrast to portray that.

“They attack, bully and intimidate the flamingos – but the flamingos learn to say ‘stuff this, we’re fabulous’.

“It’s a really strong message for life. It’s about believing in yourself, standing up for what’s right – there’s a huge moral message throughout the piece.”

The project brought together a community of people, with grandparents helping to make the costumes and one parent flying over from Kuala Lumpur to see the show.

Ms Parry continued: “It brought together so many separate elements. It was enriching and uplifting and the girls had a ball.

“Flamingos is one of the best projects I’ve ever worked on in my life – watch out Vegas, here we come!”


Flamingos, by Jonathan Edwards

Who spray-painted the swans? You dilly-dally,
shilly-shally in the shallow end
On Meccano legs, your day a foot massage,
curve your neck into a clothes hanger
for your rose hue tutu and your feather boa.

You’re every little girl’s dream, a shock, a flock
of neon signs advertising candyfloss.
Why do you blush so much? Each time you eat,
you have to kiss the you-shaped bird who floats
in the lake surface, steal food from its throat.

February. Outside’s a place of grey
line managers, timetabled rain, the bus.
But with your silly-billy, Vegas waitress,
camouflage for a world-of-joy body,
Stuff that, you say, let’s all be fabulous.

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