Elvis Legs in a time of Quarantine

In 2018 I had the honour of joining Lea Anderson in her ‘Elvis Legs’ and other extracts of works with her company The Chomondeleys at the Bristol Museum as part of an event she curated called ‘Trying It On’. Now, in a time of quarantine, she is creating a film project: providing jobs, entertainment and joy!

At 0.47 & 1.04 of my showreel you can catch a tiny glimpse of what the film might look like!

It will be an absolute honour and joy to join this project! Please support if you are able, and you will be rewarded with a banging Elvis Legs film, brought to you from our homes! There are¬†some excellent rewards and every contribution counts! Thank you ūüĆü

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Covid 19 Updates week 3

How are you coping this sunny Sunday with this strange new world? What are you doing for yourself to keep connected, to release the stress, to ground? I am coping mostly ok. I realised that if we look at the seven stages of grieving… I went for denial first… loads of action, and lots of connecting with friends. Then this week, staying home hit home, and I began to feel into my feelings… I am learning to take things slower. I am realising that I need to find ways to have daily human connection online, but also being more selective about how i do that.

We each are experiencing our own unique stresses and challenges at this time, and if we can offer support, connection, and paths for self-awareness, and love at this challenging time, I believe we will come out stronger and more connected.

These are some events which might help to offer support at this difficult time:

As part of Slate World, we’ve confirmed our first Eclipse Online events:The Slate World UK team invite Black Artists, and fellow artists who are also marginalised for their race, to join the virtual gatherings to connect, learn and share during this time.The following sessions have been curated and will be led by Slate World UK Enabler Melanie Abrahams and myself:

Slate World – UK: Social with Pauline Mayers, Wed 15 Apr
Book a place >

Slate World – UK: Masterclass with Astrid Elburg, Wed 22 Apr
Book a place >

Slate World – UK: Social with Maya Chowdhry, Wed 29 Apr
Book a place >

Slate World – UK: Social with Naomi Mwasambili, Wed 6 May
Book a place >

Slate World is transnational partnership promoting the visibility and mobility of Black artists, and fellow artists who are also marginalised for their race across Europe. Led by Eclipse Theatre with partners Theater De Meervaart, ICK Amsterdam and Teatro GRIOT, the two-year programme will open-up new potentials in programming, audience development, digitisation and cultural exchange.

The Getting Better Box

This is an online collection of all of all the tips, classes, facts, shared resources, poems, moments of hope I have been sent over the past month… there are things to experience, study… and lots of funding and other tips in this time of hardship.

If you are an artist and would like me to add your online class to the class list, please send it over! If you have some meditations you would like to give away, or know of a funding that might help a fellow artist: please email me it to ella@ellamesma.co.uk and I will try my best to get things added on a day by day basis to create a helpful shared resource…

Massive shout outs to all my artist friends who have contributed to this list!

CLASSES

When we sit still for a long time, we inhibit natural movement of the spine, making this a primary problem area, and also reducing the blood and oxygen pumped to the brain thus affecting our mood, concentration and stress levels, so we are offering the following classes:

MONDAY MORNING MOVEMENT MANTRA WITH ELLA MESMA COMPANY:

11.11-12.00 Ella Mesma Company Monday Morning Movement Mantra (Online)

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ella-mesma-company-monday-morning-movement-mantra-50-minute-class-tickets-101367661404

Ella Mesma Company morning class is an Embodied Alchemy Movement meditation. We do this class every morning and love how it sets up our body mind and soul for the day! Our classes marry Graham and Dunham contemporary techniques with elements of yoga and Cuban Contemporary, Afro Cuban and other folkloric styles. The sequences tend to move seamlessly in and out of the floor and can often be grounded, fluid and energetic. We describe them as a movement ritual.

CLASS WITH BUSINESS YOGA: Wednesdays at 15:15 – 15:30 BST

15:15: Fifteen Moves to make you feel better at the desk

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/take-a-break-15-moves-to-make-you-feel-better-reduce-stress-and-boost-your-immune-system-tickets-101371222054

CLASS WITH MAYA GANDAIA: KUNDALINI YOGA: Tuesdays at 18:30 ‚Äď 19:45 BST (from 14th April)

To boost your immunity, release fear and raise your vibration

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/kundalini-to-boost-your-immunity-release-fear-and-raise-your-vibration-tickets-101452609486

CLASS WITH ELEMENT ARTS: Samba Saturdays at 11:00-12:00 BST

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/element-arts-online-dance-classes-tickets

MEDITATION WITH MAYA GANDAIA: Saturdays at 12:15 – 12.30 BST

To find out more about the classes: or the many other classes listed on our site click here

Big loves everyone: you are super(s)heros!

Stay strong, find the silver linings, and when life gives you lemons: add them to your tea!

I love you,

Ella xxx

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Evaluating Foreign Bodies: An Underwater Love Story

I am extremely grateful to Arts Council, to all Trinity & Metal who housed us during this R&D and to every single artist involved.

Best moments included:
The underwater fotoshoot at a pool near Bristol with Jessica Mitchell
The sharing and meal at Metal
Bringing the entire cast for dinner at St Mary’s Kitchen in Bristol: a delicious Caribbean restaurant
The sharing in Bristol with audience participation.

This project supported by Arts Council was phase two of R&D for dance theatre piece FOREIGN BODIES: An underwater love story, which explores the experience of ‚Äėother‚Äô ‚Äď BAME people, and other marginalised groups, to ask what is gained and lost through integration.

Using the metaphor of Jellyfish, we created an underwater love story and quiz show to celebrate us! A story that crosses borders and oceans to explore what divides and what unites us. Timely in the wake of Brexit and a global refugee crisis, the piece comments on the power of language and how disenfranchised groups have been used and misplaced.

In particular, I used this time to interrogate the story line, working for the first time with an actor: The amazing Milton Lopes, to put together the first draft of a script (with the help of Dr Edson Burton) and we also refined the full hour production of music, dance and word. It was great to see the humour come alive with actor Milton Lopes.

I worked with an awesome team: Lucia Afonso, Elsabet Yonas, David Evans, Isaac Ouro Gnao, Franck Arnaud Lusbec and Milton Lopes, who described the work as:

‚Äúa really unique approach to a political and complex subject matter‚ÄĚ ‚ÄúThe quiz show concept is genius‚ÄĚ
‚Äúa human dive in to a multi-sensory experience of dual parallels & contradictions‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúPowerfull and emotive!‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúFunny! and Endearing!‚ÄĚ

‚ÄĚWe have created a mirror for the audience‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúWe have created a hybrid of two worlds – one more familiar than the other – but both options that resonate and exist within them‚ÄĚ

I also worked with dramaturgy Luke Pell (supported by South East Dance) and Edson Burton (Trinity) and musician Sabio Janiak.

This phase also enabled me to hold an underwater photoshoot for the promotional material of the work and to develop costumes and music.

I held a sharing in week one at Metal, then an invite only preview and live stream at Trinity Centre in week two. The invite only preview also included a post show talk with feedback. The audience used an app to interact with the quiz, meaning I could understand how they might answer the quiz show long term.

Next, I will develop the quiz show responses to show up on stage using a lightbulb design in real time, heightening the audience experience and understanding of the topics in a fun, safe and anonymous way.

We took a tour of Bristol with Edson Burton, and this helped find ideas for the work, for example around the debates in Bristol about Edward Colston and the covering up of or erasing of aspects of h(is)(er)story.

We also held a public crowdfunder: raising £350, and held workshops in both cities, and we also performed extracts for Croydon Dance Festival in London, and the Festival of Audacity in Birmingham.

This experience served to strengthen my belief in creating from a space of connectivity to self and purpose, and in my strengths as a leader. I am going to bring forward this holistic approach to creativity, as I really clarified that this is how I and company members make the best work. One of the areas I was unsure of was how to hold the space for healing and open up important questions: the ‚ÄėElephants in the room‚Äô. This is actually one of my skills.

I also learnt and gained insight into how to be better in terms of protecting the wellbeing of the artists and myself with Selfe:A company who work with clients & dancers to build strong bodies & enable clients to feel self-accomplished & self-empowered. I realized I could create a great working environment and also respect my own wellbeing.

I had had many fears around the photoshoot underwater: coming up against a few setbacks with venue, worrying for the safety for the artists, and the additional expenses of lights, and the underwater set, but the final shoot was wonderful: the images are incredible and it was a wonderful last day of the whole process.

The biggest impact that I see is that I gained clarity on the piece and how to talk about it, realizing that the piece is Foreign Bodies is a multi-sensory experience: an underwater love story and a quiz show that crosses borders and oceans to challenge the human narrative, looking to nature to to ask what is gained and lost through integration.

I further understood and was able to express myself with regards to the work we make here at Ella Mesma Company as diaspora dance theatre: recognizing that the roots of these folkloric dance styles lie in Africa, and that I am also making a new journey which is really about the mixed heritage of the company members. I further understood and realised my desire to make work that undoes limiting beliefs and celebrates cultural and social identity in this R&D: creating clarity in the text in the script and deepening my understanding of the underlying message in the work which is around promoting love and respect for difference, which also helps me clarify my next projects and my role in the world as an artist.

By performing extracts: We took the work to Birmingham as part of the Festival Of Audacity, taking two of the company: Isaac Ouro Gnao and David Evans, and with three dancers at the Croydon Dance Festival, and I discovered that I will be able to also offer a small and large scale version of the piece.

One of my learnings was I realised the scale of technology, and decided to cut back and make a longer term investment into this, coming up with plans for a set that can have a simpler technological device.

Going forward, I will be building a Scaleable version of the set and technology in partnership with Gentleman Octopus Limited.

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August Updates

Šļł n lŠļĻ,¬†Salut,¬†Ol√°,¬† šĹ†Ś•Ĺ, Hello¬†Creative Being,

It is my pleasure to see you here and share our news

My news? After feeling like I moved a mountain with all the creations of July, I experienced a pretty epic foot injury and have been healing for August: perhaps a welcome break after July’s adventures below, and also teaching me the gifts of surrender and what amazing friends I have!

Also below are some up coming workshops which I am moving to my sister company Maya Gandaia: sign up for newsletters which will focus solely on workshops, retreats and coaching.

Sending Love and Creativity!

Ella xxx

Ladylike in London
The new cast had a beautiful run in London at Casa Festival with some nights sold out, a standing ovation and some lovely reviews (links here & here)
Are you a hero? Or feeling a bit chicken? Ladylike is a super-heroines journey in which four warrior women use hip hop theatre and sexually charged Rumba to take a fierce, frank and funny look at gender roles and transform their deepest fears and desires, stepping out of their stories into a new reality united as a sisterhood.

Ladylike began its journey at Casa Festival in 2015 and premiered at Sadler’s Wells in 2017. The show has also been performed at Richmix, London (2017),Trinity Centre, Bristol (2018), The Women’s Leadership Conference, New York City, (2018), VAULT Festival London (2018), IETM, Hull (2019), Offbeat Festival, Oxford (2019), Dance City, Newcastle (2019), and was runner up in the Lukas awards  for Best Production (2018). It was beautiful to come full circle and bring the piece back to Casa Festival last month!

Foreign Bodies in Birmingham
We had a beautiful time performing extracts of our Jellyfish Love Song (An extract from our newest show Foreign Bodies) in Birmingham as part of the Festival of Audacity.
Foreign Bodies is an underwater love story and quiz show that crosses borders and oceans to explore what divides and what unites us, and our awesome dancers: Isaac Ouro Gnao and David Evans (plus myself on the mic!) presented At Birmingham New Street Station
…the trailer from our R&D is almost ready…
The Masks We Wear
Photo by Ben Farman
These 5 superheroines performed to an audience of 1000 at Millennium Square as part of Vamos Festival. Funded by Leeds Inspired, the project explored ‚ÄėThe Masks We Wear‚Äô:¬†the performance we put on in life and our¬†public and private identity through dance and costume.

Watch the full show here

Join us for NYE in Thailand
YES to spending NYE in a 5* homestay in Thailand!

YES to passing NYE with beautiful creative beings practising yoga, the PathFor series, setting intentions and eating divine healthy food!

I have moved all our PathFor Series and workshops over to Maya Gandaia where I will focus on wellbeing.

Subscribe or read the latest newsletter at the website or read about Thailand and the Earlybird rates here

Adi√≥s, Adeus, √¨k√≠ni ti √¨p√≠ny√†, Au Revoir,¬†ŚÜćŤßĀ,¬†Much love,

Ella xxx

And from the whole team:

Anna, Azara, Hsing Ya, Lucia, Rachel, David, Franck, Milton, Isaac, Elsabet, Jemma, Pareesha, Cherie, Isabella, Farida, Laura (and everyone else from the Ella Mesma Company family: we wish you the all the best!)

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