Blog: Hannah Sampson

The dancer with Downs Syndrome on her leading role in Stopgap Dance's Enormous Room

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The Enormous Room is a piece about the loss of Dave Bonnay’s wife and Sam’s mum, Jackie Bonnay. The story of this piece is about a family relationship between Dave and his daughter Sam. This piece originally came from Lucy’s [Bennett, artistic director] ideas of being in a small space that then opens up into a big space.

What I like in this piece is that I play a 14-year-old tomboy called Sam. Sam sometimes sees herself like her mum, who does everything around the house. Every time her dad wants her to do something, all she ever thinks about is walking away. The reason why is because she wants her dad to move on and for him to let his wife go. In section one of the piece, she is wandering around the house and sees her dad being miserable and grumpy as ever. In this section, she sees herself in pain because she misses her mum and wants her back. My favourite part of this section is the party scene because I get to see my mum back in time meeting my dad for the first time. In section two, she starts to feel lost, confused and then relieved when she’s back home with her dad. At this moment, I start to understand how my dad feels because we have a heartfelt conversation duet about our feelings.

During the creation of this piece, Lucy asked me to work with Dave Toole. The task that I was given was to talk to Dave about what I did when I helped my mum and uncle after my grandpa’s passing. It was this that made Lucy think that I should play Dave’s daughter Sam in the piece. When I told Dave about my Gramps, I took myself back in time remembering how I felt. I was upset, angry and hurt but deep down I had to accept it. It was that same feeling I thought that Sam would have when she lost her mum. After I told Dave about my story, Lucy asked Dave and I to make a duet using the idea of a conversation.

When I start to move, I feel like it sends an open message to those who love dancing. When I put on a show, I feel different because I’m opening up to the audience and it sends them a message to never give up on your dreams. I like performing because I get to spend time with my StopGap family and to inspire others. I love to be able to perform. It makes me feel alive. I get an energy going through my body. I love working with the rest of the team all collaborating to put a performance together. I love the way it makes me feel and love the reaction of the audience.
The Enormous Room is at Leap Dance Festival 2017, 6 March, 7.30 at Make Liverpool (37 Regent Street Liverpool, L3 7BN)

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