IA: Hi Ella. What I’d like to say about you is that you document yourself well, so I won’t go over old ground. First question, I’m interested in Hip Hop as alternate kinship/family and would like to hear your thoughts and experiences of that. EM: Sure, so, it’s a big question isn’t it? I guess for me, the biggest family I’ve had in Hip Hop. Actually, I’m already like ‘no that wasn’t’ one of the biggest was through meeting Renegade (Kevin) and training in London. In the London B-Boy scene I also became a partner of one of the boys on that scene, so you know it very much became my world. The younger generations like Terra and Eddie were at our house every weekend getting ready for battles. My B-Girl community, (the B-Girls were Emma Houston, Rox, Lisa, Jenn, Joey, Nefeli). There was a big group of us who also trained with Kev and were working in London. I guess that was my biggest family.
IA: What time are we talking?
EM: 2009 to 2015. And you know we’re still close now. But things have changed, people have grown up, people have moved out – I’ve moved out of London so that’s one of my big families. I’d say I have two other big families, Rokafella and Kwikstep in New York. But yeah, it’s been across the oceans training and keeping in contact. But those are my big families. There’s also the bigger community, which is more like the diaspora dance community. Marv said something the other day, do you know Marv Radio? He is a beatboxer. He said something during a show we were performing in (Roots of Rumba, London) about that wider family also being Hip Hop you know how everyone on that scene is Hip Hop because ‘The ultimate message of Hip Hop is about love, it’s about healing and it’s about family.’ You know all the work that was being performed at that event was about those things, and all of that made me think about this extended family of diaspora dance theatre and the love that is there. And also this supporting of different generations. Can I add one more? Family number 4 is Artists4Artists. For sure. We have a WhatsApp group and it’s about constantly sharing, constantly looking out for each other and supporting each other’s shows and knowing what’s going on. I would say it is more in London than in the UK, but in the UK nonetheless.
IA: Can you talk about each of those families and what they offer you? And what do you offer them in return?
EM: Sure, sure. I think in the breaking scene now I consider myself, I still break, I mean now I’m moving to Leeds, there still are breakers, the Leeds breakers – Raw Gina and all them – that’s who I will train with while I’m up there. My personal attitude is that I’m not about battles, I just realised that battling was a phase in my life. (laughs) I realised, when I was really in that scene I was being mentored, more so than me giving back. And I’m now in the place where I’m giving back. And being able to see. So, for example in the show I’m making now there is a B-Boy/salsa dancer from East Grinstead a house dancer from France, a house dancer/Capoerista from Portugal and a Hip Hop dancer from London. We had our full audition on the weekend. So, I suppose now it’s about giving back, doing shows, making tours around the UK. I love linking up because I’m a bit of a gypsy/nomad. I’ve also got my other families around the UK, like Newcastle Robbie and all the B-Boys there (where we came from before Liverpool). Because I worked for Robbie in 2013. So yeah I’ve got all these different communities. Because I love connecting people. And it feels like such a family of love. It’s just beautiful being around all those amazing people and supporting them.
IA: And what about Kwikstep and New York?