This touching film shows the grace of dancers with a learning disability

Four members of the Corali Dance Company respond to their favourite paintings in Tate Britain through movement

“It makes me feel good and it makes me feel overwhelmed and it makes me feel outstanding,” says dancer Bethan Kendrick, reacting to 20th-century Britsh artist Victor Pasmore’s “Square Motif, Blue and Gold: The Eclipse” (1950). Her interpretation of the artwork might be quite different than most people’s, and she starts to move her body in an unusual way – part geometric, part ethereal, but wholly individual.

It’s all captured in a new video from director Nadira Amrani, which was made in conjunction with Tate Britain and Corali, a dance company that works with artists with a learning disability. The video is released today to honour International Day of Disabled Persons.

Amrani tells us: “Honestly when I read the brief and saw I would be working with a dance company like Corali I thought this would be a really fun project to do and it was. To do a film in response to the dancers’ own interpretation of art was so rewarding.”

In the clip, four of the dancers from Corali each pick out their favourite painting in Tate Britain, stand in front of it, and explain verbally how it makes them feel. Then they take it a step further by expressing themselves physically, moving freely around the grand empty space.

It makes for engrossing viewing, especially with the shape-shifting score from Denai Moore, which was inspired by the movements of the dancers.

Dancer Paul Davidson chooses “2016” (2016) by self-described “lesbionic” artist Maggi Hambling. In the painting, Davidson sees “an urgent message” about climate change, identifying a boat lost amidst rising tides caused melting polar ice caps. The following dance is both peaceful and aggressive, like the waves of an ocean rising and falling with the wind, before he goes spinning almost out of control and ultimately collapses, motionless.

“Distillation” (1957) by award-winning abstract painter Gillian Ayres is dancer Sherifat King’s choice of inspiration for her dance, explaining she’s drawn to the “little fireballs like splashes of paint”. From this explosive image comes a dance full of gyration and energy as King whirls through the gallery with expansive movements.

Finally, there is dancer Housni Hassan aka DJ, who picks Swiss artist Henry Fuseli’s Midsummer Night’s Dream-inspired “Titania and Bottom” (c. 1790). DJ identifies that the figures in the painting “have a really strong purpose; every detail, every pose, they’re trying to tell you a little story”, which he channels into his movements. Pirouetting and gliding around Tate Britain, his dance is brimming with the character that he admires in the artwork.

On how it all came together, the director Amrani says: “From the first rehearsal to the final piece it was really rewarding to watch how it developed as each individual added an extra element. Bethan, DJ, Paul, and Sherri all had their unique style and gaze on each of the artworks, and yet coming together, they really worked as an ensemble.”

Corali is a London-based dance company that puts on unique dance performances by artists with a learning disability and delivers an engagement and outreach programme for the wider learning disabled community. Find out more on their website