A year ago today, George Floyd was murdered.
Especially in times of trauma, artists and artistic responses help to us to process our emotions and connect with each other beyond languages, cultures, and borders.
So, we’re sharing a selection of dance works by and featuring Black artists that speak to us on this day, and we invite you to spend some time with these artists and their work.
To our Black colleagues, audiences, visitors, participants and artists: we all stand in solidarity with you today and every day.
Jonzi D & jessica Care moore – Our Bodies Back
We want our freedom
We want our justice
We want our bodies
Our Bodies Back is a powerful rendering of Black women’s voices; speaking out against the realities of anti-Black racism, misogynoir, and sexual violence, while uplifting and honouring in full the Black lives and memories lost, in a ceremony of dance, spoken word and visual art.
“This poem is a demand. For justice, for equality, for respect, for Our Bodies Back. The whole team were so moved by jessica’s incisive lyrics and intense delivery, we had the perfect blueprint for this film. The dancers responded with honesty, grace and power.” – Jonzi D
Matsena Productions – Shades of Blue
When brothers Anthony and Kel saw a lack of representation in schools, on stage and on screen during their dance training, they founded Matsena Productions as a response to this. Their ambition is to encourage people to have important conversations about the difficulties faced by Black people in society today.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Anthony and Kel created Geometry of Fear which was later adapted as Shades of Blue (excerpt below) for Sadler’s Wells and BBC Arts’ mini-series Dancing Nation.
Together they have built a love and curiosity for telling stories that express themes of culture, race, change and belonging.
Watch a longer clip as part of Dancing Nation’s highlights here.
Azara Meghie – I Am A Woman
Azara Meghie is a multi-disciplinary artist who expresses her views through a blend of live art, poetry, breakdancing and theatre. Created in Jamaica, I Am A Woman navigates Azara’s sexual identity through hip hop and breakdance. The film was screened at the BFI Flare: London LGBT Film Festival (2017) with subsequent screenings across London, Berlin and New York.
Tackling themes of politics, sexuality, gender, race and class, Azara aims to identify the struggles faced when trying to maintain individuality whilst highlighting the cultural limitations and stereotypes she does not adhere to.
Protocol Dance Company – I Can’t Breathe
I Can’t Breathe takes an in-depth and uncompromising look at racism in society. From the epidemic of Black killings by police officers in America, to the reality of being a young Black man living in London, the piece explores the causes of institutional racism, and the impact that has, all through the prism of a game.
Protocol Dance Company was founded in 2008 by Jared Garfield and Lanre Malaolu. I Can’t Breathe was performed as part of Sadler’s Wells Breakin’ Convention in 2016 and the company are dedicated to creating bold and thought-provoking work, using a range of styles including hip hop, popping and krump to create their own unique language.
An excerpt of I Can’t Breathe:
Antoinette Gomis – Images
How do we value our female heritage? Created as a tribute to Nina Simone and Black women too, Images draws upon the words of Waring Cuney’s poem No Images, where a Black woman is unable to identify her own beauty.
Nina Simone’s song depicts a woman who ‘thinks her brown body has no glory’ and explores the limited beauty ideals of the western world. Motivated by her own personal experiences, we encourage you to listen to Antoinette’s inspiring story behind the performance here.
Performed as part of the Breakin’ Convention tour in 2016, Antoinette is an award-winning street dancer, choreographer and model based in France; she continues to teach her style and techniques to people around the world.
Vocab Dance & Alesandra Seutin – Inside Head
Performer, choreographer and teacher Alesandra Seutin has built an international reputation for creating thought provoking and striking performances. Her work Inside Head (available until 27 May) explores the inner thoughts of a young Black man as he reflects on the outside world’s perception of what he represents, and the systemic pressures he frequently endures.
Founder of Vocab Dance and current Guest Artistic Director of the National Youth Dance Company (NYDC), Alesandra’s creativity is inspired by social and political circumstances, and with movement, voice and music, she shares stories to encourage further conversation.
Botis Seva – CAN’T KILL US ALL
Can’t Kill Us All unravels one man’s mental unrest as he deals with two global pandemics. From reflecting on childhood memories to reliving Black trauma, the film pushes through darkness to find light, humility and peace.
Botis Seva is a dance artist, choreographer and director working within the realms of contemporary dance, physical theatre and hip-hop. Botis is entrenched in hip hop dance theatre but experiments with form, structure and theatrics to reinvent choreography. Botis’ focus is on making a difference and using his autobiographical experiences to drive narratives. His company Far From The Norm is fuelled by socio-political issues in the contemporary world.
Ivan Blackstock – TRAPLORD HAVE MERCY
Exploring questions of identity, faith, abandonment and Black masculinity, TRAPLORD HAVE MERCY is artistic director Ivan Blackstock navigating a world in which socially disenfranchised young men grapple some of the biggest philosophical questions of our time in their own way, and on their own terms.
The film is a sensitive and poetic reflection on Black masculinity in crisis.
Ivan is an artist, choreographer and innovator with an established career working as a dancer and choreographer on numerous music videos and advertising campaigns. He is also artistic director of arts organisation CRXSS PLATXRM, showcasing what’s next in street culture.
Even though we are sharing this selection of work at this moment, we are committed to platforming the work of Black artists all year round, in times good and bad.