When I was invited to review La Danse des Éléments, a new dance work by Argentinian-born, Paris-based choreographer Cecilia Bengolea in the small, south western Luxembourgish city of Esch, I never expected the visit would make me reflect on my childhood home. Having never previously visited Luxembourg, the main associations I’d had with the country were wealth and finance, which have seemingly little connection to Droitwich Spa, the small countryside town south-west of Birmingham in the UK where I grew up.
While Droitwich itself is small, quiet and rural, its proximity to England’s second city – which along with the nearby Black Country was credited as the birthplace of the industrial revolution – meant that my upbringing was filled with industrial narratives. These ranged from listening to stories from grandfather about his days as a toolmaker at the now closed Rover factory, to hearing my father speak about why he studied engineering over subjects he preferred. (‘Well, what would you do with a history degree in the West Midlands?’)