Our Company Herstory

Ella in Portuguese sounds like Ela, meaning her, and Mesma means real, so this is the real her company: and reflects our mission as a company to seek our truth via storytelling.

Ella Mesma Company have enjoyed some incredible opportunities across the globe, and I am so grateful for every part of it: every success, every failure has brought me here… it is all absolutely a gift and a shaping of the art I make and how I communicate my story.

This is how we began! Almost as soon as I finished my dance training my dream came true and I was invited to apprentice with Upswing Circus specialising in silks… but then after creating my first solo under Ella Mesma Company (Evol) I had a voicemail on my phone from Russell Maliphant: a choreographer I had looked up for for many years, asking me to R&D for his company, and so (after nerves around making the first phonecall), I quit everything to join his company and decided to dedicate myself to dance 100%. Some of my most epic performance memories include touring internationally with the Russell Maliphant Company (The Rodin Project) (best moment NYC, worst moments: the lows of company life: big personalities and egos (including my own), plus I was still living with my imposter syndrome), performing for Lea Anderson (Trying it On: The Chomondeleys) (just a wonderful experience in every way! Best moment: impersonating Elvis!), the Olympics Opening Ceremony (wonderful memories of my first deep meditative experiences and profound friendships) as well as the WCMT and AIDF awards which took me to Brazil, Cuba and South Africa where I worked with an incredible poet and artist: Toni Stuart.

I decided to pursue my childhood dream of making my own art and so I created Ella Mesma Company, premiering with a solo at Breakin Convention: a total dream come true! (This was also the show that Russell Maliphant saw and based on this invited me to join the company). I have since been so lucky to have been commissioned by Sadler’s Wells (Wild Card), Dance City (as Associate Dance Artist 2016-2017) and the National Circus Centre (Papyllon), as well as having had my work performed at The ICA Festival in South Africa (Papyllon) and at the Women in Dance Leadership Conference in New York (Ladylike).

Our work tends to focus around healing, uplifting, transformation, creating opportunity for the less seen and less heard on stage, and the path for enlightenment!

Ladylike was also second place for best production for the Lukas awards (Latin UK Awards) 2018. I also decided to bring back my love of silks and made a solo around my own path for enlightenment called Papyllon (inspired by the life cycle of the butterfly). We are currently working on Foreign Bodies: An Underwater Love Story: a multi sensory experience about the complexity and simplicity of the human experience. the interconnectedness of love, the illusion of fear and how it manifests in to separation, racism, otherness. Connected by a game show host and danced by a cast of Jellyfish (I doubt you have ever seen anything quite like it!)

Papyllon, or Like Water, was a piece exploring mixed heritage identities in collaboration with South African poet Toni Stuart. This piece premiered at the ICA Festival in South Africa in 2018, and combined dance and circus. The duet was supported by British Council, Arts Council and the National Centre for Circus.

The company was awarded a Leeds Inspired grant with Vamos Festival to create The Masks We Wear, a project working with young women in Leeds to explore our public and private identities.

Foreign Bodies, An Underwater Love Story began supported by a commission from Metal and a grant from Arts Council of England. The piece was booked for a tour of the UK for 2020, which we hope to rework for 2021 in these different times!

2011: 

Ella Mesma created a solo which premiered at Breakin’ Convention, titled ‘Evol‘ (Love backwards), working with Compagnie Decalage (UK/France).

2013: 

Ella Mesma created a solo working with Anthony Egea of Compagnie Revolution (France) called ‘Ecdysis‘.

2014:

The Company was officially launched as Ella Mesma Company in 2014, when they were commissioned to make ‘Orixás‘ for the Billingham Festival.

2015:

Ella Mesma reworked ‘Orixás’, which premiered at The Place as part of Resolutions. She was awarded a Bench fellowship for emerging female choreographers and began working on a larger scale work: ‘Ladylike‘, as well as a short residency with Casa Latin American Theatre Festival.

2016:

In 2016, Ella Mesma was made Associate Dance Artist at Dance City and during that time began working on new solo ‘Papyllon‘.

2017:

Sadler’s Wells commissioned the company for their own wild card ‘Guerreras’, featuring the premiere of ‘Ladylike’. Dance City awarded a phase one commission to Ella Mesma Company for their newest work ‘Foreign Bodies‘, which was ‘Scratched’ at Artist 4 Artists ‘Scratch Dat’ at The Richmix in London. The company were awarded an IGNITE artist residency in Bristol at The Trinity Centre working on ‘Foreign Bodies’, as well as support from Metal (Liverpool).

2018:

Ella Mesma continued the development of ‘Papyllon’ with Serendipity and The Curve in Leicester in 2018 and an AIDF grant to South Africa to collaborate with poet Toni Stuart. Roots of Rumba, funded by Arts Council of England, went on a tour of the UK, visiting 6 venues, as well as extensive research into understanding what the festival is and how it contributes to the development of diaspora dance theatre supported by Eclipse Theatre. Ladylike went to New York, and finished up the UK tour: The last show being to Dance City in July. The piece also won an award as runner up for the LUKAS awards as Best Dance Production 2018. The Research for Foreign Bodies began, supported by a commission from Metal and a grant from Arts Council of England, and Ella was made Associate Artist at Trinity Centre in Bristol.

2019:

Ella began touring her PATHFOR Seriesacross Europe with Maya Gandaia, and was invited to become a Slate World Artist and a resident at the Pervasive Media Studio. Ella travelled back to South Africa to give a series of workshops. The cast revived Ladylike with new cast member Lucia Afonso to perform at the IETM in Hull and Casa Festival in London. The company were granted an Arts Council grant for Foreign Bodies R&D , performing in Leeds, Bradford and Newcastle as well as streaming the work live. They also shared extracts of the work at the Festival Of Audacity in Birmingham in partnership with Dance Xchange. Ella was commissioned to create The Masks We Wear, a project working with young women in Leeds to explore our public and private identities. The piece was supported by Leeds Inspired and performed at Vamos Festival in Leeds.

2020:

We are in lockdown!… Currently teaching online workshops, doing a lot of writing… a lot of yoga… creating a Getting Better Box and a lot of connecting and imagining forwards!

We’re thrilled to announce our Company in Residence for 2020-21 at Pavillion Dance South West. We will spend time in their studios and theatre when they re-open. This residency will help us to develop new material and allow time for further research and development of our current project ‘Foreign Bodies: An Underwater Love Story’.