“F***ing brilliant. Very moving” Audience Member: Offbeat Festival, The Old Firestation,  Oxford


Ladylike is a feminist dance theatre piece which comments on gender stereotypes, the masks we wear and sex. The work contains some scenes of a sexual nature.

Q: “Why did the woman cross the road?”A: “Who cares, how did she get out of the kitchen is the important question!”Themed around the slang word for woman as ‘chick’ or ‘hen’, multi-faceted dancer and choreographer Ella Mesma has created a provocative protest at gender roles, stereotypes and violence. At times absurd and at times comical, four wild women cross the roads of Hip-hop and Afro-Latin dance, clucking, pecking and ceremoniously undressing universal and timeless issues around sex, sexism and womanhood.
“Such Honesty, Skill and Communion” Audience member, Sadler’s Wells

Upcoming Tour dates


DATE: 2nd November


VENUE: Pleasance Theatre, Carpenters Mews, North Rd, London, N7 9EF



Women of the World (WOW) BradfordA festival which celebrates women & girls and takes a frank look at the obstacles they face across the world.

DATE: 19th November

VENUE: Bradford

A unique movement language at the crossroads of theatre, Latin and Hip hop, together with a punchy feminist approach” Eva Martinez: Artistic Programmer & Artist Development, Sadler’s Wells


Concept and Direction: Ella Mesma

Dancers: Anna Alvarez, Azara Meghie, Hsing Ya Wu, (Lianett Rodrigues), Ella Mesma

Choreography: Ella Mesma and Dancers with the opening scene by Yersin Guillen Rivas 

Costume: Jodie-Simone Howe, Dream Sewing, Ila Leila Samba Costumes, Melissa Rolas and Ella Mesma

Lighting: Ciaran Cunningham

Music: Composed by Sabio Janiak

Photography: Nicola Hunter

Additional Direction: Charlotte Vincent through The Bench (2015) 

Dramaturgical Support: Peggy Olislaegers through Yorkshire Dance’s Sketch programme (2015)

“You performed your hearts out with honesty and generosity! Thank you” Audience member, Sadlers Wells


2015: Research and development for Ladylike began with research in Cuba, Brazil and New York with the Winston Churchill Travelling Scholarship (2015) and The Lisa Ullman Trust, as well as public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Yorkshire Dance through its Sketch programme for dance makers with a commitment to working in Yorkshire and the North of England and mentoring and additional Direction from Charlotte Vincent through the Bench Program and ADAD.
2016-2017: The production continued with support from crowd funding, residencies at Dance City, Richmix and with support from Sadler’s Wells. Ella Mesma and Company would like to thank all who have participated towards the research and the love, dedication, hard work and in kind support of company members, supporters and production team.

“Completely engaged- Enthralling, emotional, grounding work” Stuart Carter- Audience member and CEO, The Tabernacle- London


The work can also be divided into sections which can be performed individually (described below):

Duration: 1 hour with an interval and entrance ‘installation’

As Audiences arrive: Four performers in the colours of the British/ Cuban flag morph between a sequence of emotionally charged gestures to an urban reggaeton beat. 

Rumba: Choreographed by Yersin Guillen Rivas: Todo nace de la Rumba (Everything is born from Rumba)’ (The Black Roots of Salsa-Christian Liebich). Two dancers present the traditional Rumba styles Yambu, Guaguanco and Columbia as another sets up her own provocative play pen: is it a circle for protection? Or will it become her cage?

The pack are hungry and dangerous. Are they wild, free, amazonian women? Or are they a figment of his imagination?

Monologue 1: Oba: 
Why do you keep putting off writing about me?” It is the voice of a chicken that asks this.’ (Alice Walker (1988)). The showgirl makes her last dance. It begins with bravado. An alpha female, she reigns the roost… But she is also innocent, trusting and vulnerable, and her sacrifice is inevitable.

Monologue 2: Oya: ‘The Western obsession with women as “parts” (breasts, thighs, butts) is inextricably linked to our culture’s tendency to value animals the same way.’ Carol Adams. Home alone, she sings with a pinch of salt. Is she crazy to think she is free? ‘Remove my giblets and rinse before stuffing me with thyme & lemon. I want you to restrain me, devour me. Tie my ankles with twine, press my wing tips under my body and wrap around my breasts. I am delicious drizzled in oil and seasoned.’

Monologue 3: Chango: 
Are gender differences learned and cultural, or inherent to the fertilization of the egg? She breaks free from her cage in a solo of coming of age. Three mating rituals ensue but when she faces temptation, or her roost is threatened she can be hot-temperedand quick to pick a fight.

Monologue 4: Ochun: ‘Some women smile unnaturally so often that they start to suppress their natural emotions.’ Makoto Natsume. Two dancers perform the Rumba style Guaguanco: a dance between a cock and a hen. She is happy and joyful displaying her sensual movements. He distracts her with fancy footwork then impregnates her with his ‘Vacunao’. She blocks his advances in a game of flirtation, but no means no and she cannot stay silent.

 The wild women warriors cross the roads of Hip-hop and Afro-Latin dance, clucking, pecking and ceremoniously undressing global and timeless gender issues.

“Empowering, Strong,Tender, Wonderful. Thank you.” Audience member, Sadlers Wells


Touring availability: Ready for touring from June 2017

Minimum performance space: 8 x 8 metres

Tech Spec: Ladylike Lighting plan online Ladylike Lighting Plan Downloadable

Ladylike Lighting Plan Version 3


Sex Education dance workshop: The work covers Sexuality, Pleasure and Consent. We are currently creating a girls sex education workshop.

Clay activity: A goddess inspired interactive foyer activity with audience members

Jar of Jokes/O’s/Honey/Shh’s: Jars full of various theme based treats for the audience.

Guerreras: Art work display.

Post Show Talk: The Company conduct an interview and questions about the work and topics raised.

“Absolutely stunning and provocative piece, thank you for the inspiration and celebration” Pippa Lundgren- Audience member and dancer, Yorkshire Dance 

“A powerful display of timeless and current issues that women continue to face everyday” Audience member and choreographer – Louiseanne Wong

“The highlight in my dance calender” Kelly-Audience member, Sadlers Wells