Ella Mesma Company


Foreign Bodies

Foreign Bodies is a healing ritual where the collision of difference takes us on a journey from fear and anxiety, to love and shared learning. 
Foreign Bodies is An Underwater Love Story exploring what it is to be a citizen of the world in a backdrop of Brexit, Coronavirus and Climate Change.
Set between two TV channels on an over sized TV, the utopian underwater world documentary is the setting for a jellyfish love song, whilst a futuristic quiz show tests participants on their knowledge of British history… raising questions of what is true history and exploring themes of appropriation, adaptation, contamination and hybridity.
Can we all love each other?

Highlighting the absurdity of the British citizenship test, the work explores what is gained and lost through cultural exchange, and echoes the human stories of families, communities and the haunting legacy of power structures…
What do we find at the heart of civilisation?
Collaborating with technology expert Tarim and composer Sabio Janiak Ella Mesma Company have created a dance that crosses time, borders, cultures, oceans to explore what it is to belong to one heritage or to belong to many… and the interplay between heritage and a person’s identity as a citizen of the world. 
Are there consequences to suppressing human nature?
In an age where the power and reach of the web connect and divide us, Ella Mesma Company combine stunning choreography, a fantastic cast and a touch of humour to connect and contrast the farcical world of a quiz show with the healing world of a nature documentary following jellyfish migration.

THEMES: Race, Racism, Gender, Identity, Love, Power, Fear, Brexit, Migration, Transformation, Colonialism, History, Herstory, Environment, Nature, Nurture, Society, Control, Orixás, Mythology, Healing, Shamanism


Our Partners and Supporters:

Dancers: Isaac Ouro Gnao, David Evans, Benedicta Valentina, Ofelia Balogun
and we honour and love Patrick Ziza who was involved in the first R&D of the work and Elsabet Yonas, Franck Arnaud Lusbec and Lucia Afonso from the second R&D.

Actor: Milton Lopes (plus the voice of Ama Rouge)

Choreography: Ella Mesma and Dancers

Script: Ella Mesma with input from Dr Edson Burton, Milton Lopes, Luke Pell, Isaac Ouro Gnao, Joe Williams

Costume: Sabrina Henry

Lighting: Alan Dawson

Music: Written by Sabio Janiak. Piano, vocal, didgeridoo, ocarina, drums, programming, percussion, clarinet, electronica by Sabio Janiak. Duele vocal by Ella Mesma. Povo vocal by Nuno Silva

Technology: Benjamin Winstone (Gentleman Octopus) (Initial stages) and Tarim

Dramaturgical Support: Luke Pell (through South East Dance Collaborate: Dramaturg in Residence 2018) and Dr Edson Burton

Photography and Videography: Jessica Mitchell (Earth Motion Photography), Ashley Karrell (Panoptical) and Ersen Ermis

Funding: Arts Council of England, Metal Liverpool (Change Maker artist in residency 2018), South East Dance (Collaborate: Dramaturg in Residence 2018), Eclipse Theatre (Playpot), Audience members via Crowd Funding.

Support: Trinity Centre, Bristol. Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol. Serendipity, Leicester. Dance City, Newcastle. Dance Umbrella, London. Sadler’s Wells, London. Northern Stage, Newcastle. Kala Sangam, Bradford. Yorkshire Dance, Leeds.

Mentoring: Fergus Evans (Big Feast), Degna Stone (Slate Enabler), Theatre Bristol, Rachel Bradbear, Annie Rigby (Unfolding Theatre via Slate)

Thank you: This work began in 2017 with 1 week of R&D, a further 2 weeks were funded in 2018, and this two week opportunity in 2019 (totaling 5 weeks creation period!) but has included extensive research spanning continents and crossing borders. A huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of this work, in particular to: Arts Council of England, South East Dance (Dramaturg in Residence 2018), Metal Liverpool, Crowdfunder donaters, Serendipity, Dance City, Patricia Stead, Jeff Dean, Kala Sangam, Northern Stage, Yorkshire Dance, Sadler’s Wells, Trinity Centre, Eclipse Theatre, Artists4Artists, Selfe, Hayleigh Sellors, Edson Burton, AIDF, Pervasive Media Studio, Gentleman Octopus, Fergus Evans, Patrick Ziza, Dani Sands, Ersen Ermis, Joe Williams, Ashley Karrell, Ciaran Cunningham, all the performers, Mum, Dad and Ama, Anna and friends who have supported.