Eurovision: Project Movema
Diane takes a deep dive into a world of dancing
Diane Tan struggled when she moved from Malaysia to the UK in 2006 to study nursing. She said, “When I first came to the UK, I was discriminated against, excluded and rejected… because people saw I was not British.”
Some 17 years later, she’s firmly ensconced in Liverpool and has a new passion: learning dances from around the world. Since becoming involved with Movema ‐ a world dance project supported by funding made possible by National Lottery players ‐ Diane, 50, has mastered African and Chinese dance styles and is currently getting to grips with Morris dancing, Indian stick dancing and Ukrainian folk dancing.
Diane said, “It’s [dancing] a great feeling and it’s fun. The thing I notice is that when you dance together in a group there is a kind of energy. It’s like when you go to the seaside and you see the waves coming and going… a group of people dancing is a bit like that. When they move together there is a kind of wave. You can’t see it, but you feel it.”
Diane has been learning Morris dancing, Indian stick dancing and Ukrainian folk dancing as part of Movema’s Global Folk Project. Members of the project ‐ including Diane ‐ danced in Birkenhead Park on 29th April 2023 and are taking part in the official Eurovision street parade in central Liverpool on 5th May 2023.
She said, “It’s a beautiful thing, a way to learn about new cultures and make friends.”
Maria Malone, Movema’s CEO and executive director, said the project works with people from diverse backgrounds and ages ranging from 6-60. She added, “We’re a world dance company founded by 4 women with a passion for dances from around the world. We all came from different careers and different countries and we bring all those experiences together. We reach out to communities to help them celebrate their own cultures and improve their health and wellbeing and heal divisions in society.”
Those taking part in Movema’s workshops include refugees and asylum seekers and people recovering from mental health issues.
Diane was enjoying the sunshine in a Liverpool park in 2018 when she was approached by a member of Movema. She hadn’t danced since she was at school in Malaysia, but the conversation would lead her to rekindle her love of movement.
She said, “I found out that they [Movema] needed volunteers to help with dance classes and if you volunteered you didn’t have to pay. I helped with registrations for the class and met Ithalia Forel, one of Movema’s founding members.
“The class was in a big building with arrows showing you where to go, so I just followed the arrows. Ithalia was teaching African dance. I helped with registrations and Ithalia said ‘you can join in if you want’.”
Now, she’s learning Morris dancing with Boss Morris, a Stroud-based troupe, and loving the energy of the traditional English folk dance. She said, “It’s great because they [Boss Morris] have live music with violins and there’s a lot of jumping.”
Diane Tan picture credit: Elle McConville
Costumed pictures credit: David Leeke
3rd May 2023
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