Choreographed and directed by Michael Heatley, Artistic Director 
Hit the Ground Running Dance Theatre Company
Available to watch on YouTube from Monday 10 May

A new dance film is being widely released this Mental Health Awareness Week to challenge stereotypes around masculinity and men’s mental health.

Produced by Hit The Ground Running Dance Theatre Company, MACHO explores why and how society fails to adequately address men’s mental health problems and the stigma surrounding men’s vulnerabilities and emotional wellbeing.

The film is the first in a trilogy of projects exploring mental health stigma, something that is of interest to artistic director, Michael Heatley.

Michael said: “There’s this idea in society that ‘man should be brave’ – but what does being brave actually mean? All too often, being ‘strong’ or ‘brave’ is interpreted in a way that rewards the stiff upper lip, brushes it under the carpet approach. But surely, being brave is about actually facing mental health problems and acknowledging our vulnerabilities? 

“When it comes to mental health, we know that these outdated and ill-informed attitudes can be incredibly dangerous – something that’s especially prevalent here in the North East where we’ve seen some of the highest rates of male suicide in the country.

“We all experience good mental health and bad mental health, but men still face the added challenge of toxic masculinity and, in my view, there’s no better art form than dance to challenge this.”

The performance is a digital journey into 21st-century masculinity performed by two male dancers and filmed at Easington Social Welfare Club. It is a development of a full-length dance theatre piece created by the company and first performed live in 2016. The team has worked in close collaboration with men who attended the Cree Group at the Waddington Centre in Durham who inspired the original performance through their stories – some of these participants will be involved in the film as supporting artists. Both the 2016 project, the 2018 North East tour and the film have been funded by Arts Council England as part of the company’s research, development and performance work, and there are plans to tour extensively when conditions allow both nationally and internationally.

With almost 20 years’ teaching experience, working with professionals and beginners of all ages, Michael is also working on part two of the trilogy, a performance piece entitled ‘Suitcases’ that’s a collaboration with international artist Jon Crispin from the USA.

Michael added: “I challenge anyone who thinks men shouldn’t cry, show vulnerability or dance to come and see our show. It’s about time some of these myths and stigmas are kicked into touch – and I’m delighted to give our dancers the opportunity to do just that.”

Look out for the show on the company’s YouTube channel which will be available to watch for free from Monday 10 May or follow Hit The Ground Running Dance Theatre Company on Facebook for news and updates about the film’s release –

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