Foreign Bodies: An Underwater Love Story

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

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To see more images of the show just click on the foto below or hereQUOTES

“An Under Water Love story tackles some big, serious issues, through some amazing choreography and in a way that I think will be accessible to lots of audiences. I think it’s probably going to leave people who see it with plenty to think about but having had a really entertaining night out. I’m delighted Kala Sangam has supported its creation.” Alex Croft, Creative Director – Kala Sangam

“The dance is immense. So brilliant to see new movement vocabulary. You are generating a truly unique movement style which seems to come from everywhere; African, Spanish, Latin, hip hop, contemporary all entwined together. I was intrigued to see your work and this did not disappoint. The dancers and choreography are amazing. I got a little excited tingle watching the dance, you have got something good cooking with this production!” Selina Mcgonagle, Geraldine Connor Foundation

“The underwater world was a really powerful analogy of her ideas: they were coming through really strongly” Dawn Holgate

“A really intricate mesmerising piece… I found it very empowering” Leanna (Audience, Leeds)

“When you see people respond to a dance piece who may not normally come in such a passionate way then you know you’re on a winner” Joe Williams

“I think she is one of the most intuitive artists I have ever met, an artist who really uses dreaming as a tool.” David Evans, Artist in the piece

“Ella has a gift and she needs to share it” Benedicta Valentina, Artist in the piece

“I thought the dancers were absolutely mesmerising” Jen (Audience, Leeds)

“I am a frequent theatre go-er, but seeing Ella Mesma Foreign Bodies – An Underwater Love Story was thrilling and thought provoking, elevating my consciousness – I am still getting goose bumps” Beverley Thomas, 

“Artistically, scientifically and culturally significant… a powerful and dramatic work of richly layered relevancies.”Katy Noakes, OneDance UK

“Ella has situated (Foreign Bodies) at a fertile intersection of styles and approaches to dance.” Dan Canham, Artistic Director, Stillhouse

“I was absolutely mesmerised” Heidi Samson, Youth Worker, Creative Youth Network

“A human dive in to a multi-sensory experience of dual parallels & contradictions. An important story that places the audience in the shoes of the protagonist.”Elsabet Yonas

“Strong idea and led by an amazing internationally known choreographer/dancer Ella Mesma with a fierce team. Can’t wait to see where this goes”Natalie Teitler

“You have some wonderful dancers and it was a beautiful piece, while uncomfortable at times. The big jumps in unison gave me a huge surge of optimism” Anna Demming

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.