Our Mission and History

“Pushes the form beyond battles and bravado” EXEUNT MAGAZINE

Ẹ n lẹ! Salut! Olá! Hello! 你好!

It is a pleasure to meet you here! My name is Ella, and I created Ella Mesma Company to make work that reflected my background in Afro-Latin, Breaking and Contemporary dance. I love to work with the dances of the Orishas, contemporary and Hip Hop styles to create theatre collaboratively with my company.I am super inspired by dance as a healing ritual: a gateway for transformation and positive change (Art as Activism) and have a:”holistic approach to creativity, creating from a space of connectivity to self and purpose” Elsabet Yonas As I didn’t dance until late, it is important to me to reach those who don’t necessarily have a background in theatre, and as a woman of mixed heritage, I strive for my cast and the stories we tell to be super-hero(ine) voices under represented onstage.I also love to connect with my audience through discussions and play (whilst ensuring the audience never feel pressured to join in!)

Our Mission and Aims

  • To celebrate diversity and promote equality
  • To work collaboratively as a family/team/company
  • To work with and through the ‘Elephants in the room’
  • To pay respects to our ancestral dance forms and create an innovative mix of these dance styles (diaspora dance theatre)
  • To create ethical, political, personal work and conversation using diaspora dance theatre
  • To provide opportunities to learn, heal, create through the medium of diaspora dance theatre
  • To create performance platforms for diaspora dance theatre
  • Where possible, to create opportunities for those with less access to watch and enjoy theatre

Our Company History

The journey began in 2011, with a premiere at Breakin’ Convention (Sadler’s Wells): a solo called Evol. Since then, Ella Mesma Company have been commissioned by a number of leading arts organisations including Sadler’s Wells and National Circus Centre. The company formed as Ella Mesma Company in 2014 with a piece called Orixás, and have presented work in a number of highly regarded venues & festivals.

Ella Mesma Company were residents with Casa Latin American Festival 2015, Associate Artists at Dance City (2017) and Trinity Centre Bristol (2018). The company were runners up for the ‘Best Dance Production of The Year’ by the Latino Life LUKAS Awards 2018.

The company have been commissioned for Sadler’s Wells (Wild Card) with Ladylike (a piece about gender roles celebrating the female) which they also performed at the IETM in Hull and at the Women in Dance Leadership Conference in New York. Ladylike was also second place for best production for the Lukas awards (Latin UK Awards) 2018, and was filmed using VR technology in collaboration with LIVR.

Papyllon was a piece exploring mixed heritage identities in collaboration with South African poet Toni Stuart. This piece premiered at the ICA Festival in South Africa in 2018, and combined dance and circus. The duet was supported by British Council, Arts Council and the National Centre for Circus.

The company was awarded a Leeds Inspired grant with Vamos Festival to create The Masks We Wear, a project working with young women in Leeds to explore our public and private identities.

Foreign Bodies, An Underwater Love Story is the current company work, and began, supported by a commission from Metal and a grant from Arts Council of England. The piece was booked for a tour of the UK for 2020, which we hope to rework for 2021!

2011: 

Ella Mesma created a solo which premiered at Breakin’ Convention, titled Evol (Love backwards), working with Compagnie Decalage (UK/France).

2013: 

Ella Mesma created a solo working with Anthony Egea of Compagnie Revolution (France) called Ecdysis‘.

2014:

The Company was officially launched as Ella Mesma Company in 2014, when they were commissioned to make Orixás for the Billingham Festival.

2015:

Ella Mesma reworked ‘Orixás’, which premiered at The Place as part of Resolutions. She was awarded a Bench fellowship for emerging female choreographers and began working on a larger scale work: Ladylike‘, as well as a short residency with Casa Latin American Theatre Festival.

2016:

In 2016, Ella Mesma was made Associate Dance Artist at Dance City and during that time began working on new solo ‘Papyllon‘.

2017:

Sadler’s Wells commissioned the company for their own wild card ‘Guerreras’, featuring the premiere of ‘Ladylike’. Dance City awarded a phase one commission to Ella Mesma Company for their newest work Foreign Bodies‘, which was ‘Scratched’ at Artist 4 Artists ‘Scratch Dat’ at The Richmix in London. The company were awarded an IGNITE artist residency in Bristol at The Trinity Centre working on ‘Foreign Bodies’, as well as support from Metal (Liverpool).

2018:

Ella Mesma continued the development of ‘Papyllon’ with Serendipity and The Curve in Leicester in 2018 and an AIDF grant to South Africa to collaborate with poet Toni Stuart. Roots of Rumba, funded by Arts Council of England, went on a tour of the UK, visiting 6 venues, as well as extensive research into understanding what the festival is and how it contributes to the development of diaspora dance theatre supported by Eclipse Theatre. Ladylike went to New York, and finished up the UK tour: The last show being to Dance City in July. The piece also won an award as runner up for the LUKAS awards as Best Dance Production 2018. The Research for Foreign Bodies began, supported by a commission from Metal and a grant from Arts Council of England, and Ella was made Associate Artist at Trinity Centre in Bristol.

2019:

Ella began touring her PATHFOR Series across Europe with Maya Gandaia, and was invited to become a Slate World Artist and a resident at the Pervasive Media Studio. Ella travelled back to South Africa to give a series of workshops. The cast revived Ladylike with new cast member Lucia Afonso to perform at the IETM in Hull and Casa Festival in London. The company were granted an Arts Council grant for Foreign Bodies R&D , performing in Leeds, Bradford and Newcastle as well as streaming the work live. They also shared extracts of the work at the Festival Of Audacity in Birmingham in partnership with Dance Xchange. Ella was commissioned to create The Masks We Wear, a project working with young women in Leeds to explore our public and private identities. The piece was supported by Leeds Inspired and performed at Vamos Festival in Leeds.

2020:

We are in lockdown!… Currently teaching online workshops, doing a lot of writing… a lot of yoga… creating a Getting Better Box and a lot of connecting and imagining forwards!

We’re thrilled to announce our Company in Residence for 2020-21 at Pavillion Dance South West. We will spend time in their studios and theatre when they re-open. This residency will help us to develop new material and allow time for further research and development of our current project ‘Foreign Bodies: An Underwater Love Story’.