“Pushes the form beyond battles and bravado” EXEUNT MAGAZINE
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!)
My 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
Since its formation in 2011, with a premiere at Breakin’ Convention (Sadler’s Wells) with a solo called Evol, Ella Mesma Company have been commissioned by a number of leading arts organisations including Sadler’s Wells and National Circus Centre. The company 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 as part of their IGNITE program (2018). In 2013, I was selected as a future Dance Leader for the ABLE leadership program and in 2015 awarded a Bench fellowship for emerging female choreographers. The company were runners up for the ‘Best Dance Production of The Year’ by the Latino Life LUKAS Awards 2018.
Ella Mesma Company was founded in 2011 with a solo which premiered at Breakin’ Convention, titled ‘Evol‘ (Love backwards), working with Compagnie Decalage (UK/France).
The company created a solo working with Anthony Egea of Compagnie Revolution (France) called ‘Ecdysis‘.
The Company was officially launched as Ella Mesma Company in 2014, when they were commissioned to make ‘Orixás‘ for the Billingham Festival.
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.
In 2016, Ella Mesma was made Associate Dance Artist at Dance City and during that time began working on new solo ‘Papyllon‘.
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).
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.
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.
We are slowly emerging from the first actual holiday in 5 years! And realising how good… and perhaps necessary holidays are! We are back and available for work… but emerging slowly! Happy 2020 Vision!
To read Ella Mesma and company members biographies click here