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the significance of being cheerful

Still Life at the Penguin Café is a ballet composed by the esteemed Simon Jeffes and choreographed by David Bintley.

The initiative of using art as the medium to explore these ideas is a powerful one and further reinforces the way we think of our creative and collective accountability. Our Chairman, Alan J Smith OBE DL was the Founding Chairman of BALTIC, the internationally acclaimed Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, and has always been convinced of the power of the visual and performing arts to deliver meaningful messages to the community at large. At redboxdesign group we subscribe to such reflective practices and are always keen to explore the responsibility we have as designers and custodians of the buildings, towns and cities we design.

Recently we were impressed by the ballet called Still Life at the Penguin Café, at the heart of which, both in the music, and revealed further by the choreography, is the theme of humans and animals in delicate [and ultimately destructive] coexistence.

The first movement, which is now transposed onto our telephone hold system in the grand gallery-foyer of our offices, is played out in a café and instils a series of visual keys and images which are present throughout the work. Here the choreography of David Bintley references the idea that Penguins could be extinct and draws upon the juxtaposition of humour and sorrow in the movement. The choreography, like the music reflects the joyous, uplifting and eventful score in the proximate sadness and delicate balance in which our coexistence with nature sits and is ultimately one which we have control over if only we are to face up to our responsibility.

The balance of a cheerful and vibrant arrangement, played out on stage with colourful costume and movement is one designed to lift the soul. Nevertheless the sombre message of the worrying reality combines to make the piece so much more powerful.

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