Ela Mesma Company

Dispora Dance Theatre

An interview with Serendipity

This year I have been developing a duet called Papillon with Toni Stuart a poet from South Africa, and the support of Dance 4 and Serendipity. I will be sharing a section at the LDIF 2018 in Leicester on the 10th May.

Here is my interview with Dance 4 about the creation!

Q. Can you tell us about how you feel you have developed as an artist over the last year working with Dance4?

A. Meeting Joao Fiadeiro through Dance4, Serendipity and Dance Umbrella, to my own journey and chats with Pawlet, through digging super deep and facing my fear I have grown as an artist. From going into my cave (exposing myself; being honest about my feelings), I have emerged and really do feel like I have come out the other side much lighter. The things that occupied my mind and made me worry, are not as big or important as they were inside my head.  I will never forget Hakeem Onibudo talking about the ‘Hero’s journey’ back in 2013, and I really do feel like that has been this year.  It is not like some miracle has happened outside, but I have stepped into me this year, I have realised who I am, and taken the blessings in that.

Q. After performing at signatures in LDIF17, showing a piece about transformation and renewal. Have any new ideas or concepts arisen after working on this piece over the last year?
A. The piece has totally transformed. Originally, I had a twenty-minute piece using a huge maypole type structure inspired by DNA: The piece was all about DNA: As a mixed heritage Britain, I felt so angry by Theresa May’s statement “If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what citizenship means.” at the Tory party conference in 2016. I wanted to make a piece about polarity, about opposites, that said no to Theresa May, and that said that really we are all mixed, and that undressed what is British?
The piece is still around all of these ideas, but it has become much more abstract and much more layered as I have resolved my own stuff.
Q. This piece is also relevant to questioning identity and privilege. How have you explored that with more depth over that last year? 
A. The main thing I have learnt is that it was all in my mind! Whilst labels exist, they do not make me anymore or any less who I am. Making this piece, I was able to step outside of the complex issues I had that were making me feel guilty, unworthy or apologetic.  All the experiences I have had, caused me to grow into who I am and now I can just be: I realised I do belong everywhere. I am a citizen of the world and that is ok: even the way I move reflects my mixture: it is not definable as one thing.
Q. What are your plans post-Autograph for both you and this solo piece?
A. I am super excited to have been awarded an Artist International Development Fund, so I will be travelling to South Africa to work with the poet Toni Stuart. We will develop the piece as an hour-long show with two halves: The first half using the original maypole structure, storytelling and poetry by Toni Stuart. The second half will begin with the section you saw this evening around the idea of the butterfly and transformation, but with Toni on stage too. We want to work with caligraphy and mapping live on stage as well as the scroll which you will (hopefully) see tonight.
I also want to research and develop a group piece called Foreign Bodies, which will delve more into these very sad racist times, look at power struggles and look at the polarities of religion and science: it is also about journeys and transition, about getting to know ourselves, a kind of release too.

Thank you for having me Serendipity and Dance 4 it has been such a fantastic opportunity!

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