In a new short film, principle dancer Francesca Hayward dances underwater conveying the struggle of someone dealing with depression. Choreographed by Charlotte Edmonds, the Sink or Swim project was originally inspired by an oil painting by Ian Cumberland (BP Portrait Award 2015) in which he positions himself submerged, fully clothed in a bath of water. Sharp direction from Louis-Jack coupled with a dramatic and mesmerising score from Matt Dunkley (credits include Blackswan) combine to showcase the beautifully expressive movements conceived by Edmunds.

To give some context as to how serious an issue depression is in the UK it’s worth looking at some statistics from mental health charity Mind which make you realise how deep and widespread these struggles are.

  • Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.
  • In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.
  • The overall number of people with mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, but worries about things like money, jobs and benefits can make it harder for people to cope.
  • It appears that how people cope with mental health problems is getting worse as the number of people who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts is increasing.

Edmonds and Louis-Jack hope the film will raise awareness and get people talking about mental illness, especially young people and students where issues can be particularly acute.