Portraits in Otherness: Meet the Artists

Four uniquely different dance artists will take to the stage in the Lilian Baylis Studio this June to perform a solo work as part of Portraits in Otherness. Mentored by Akram Khan Company Producer Farooq Chaudhry, they will each embody their distinctive dance styles to represent a new generation of dance artists in two double bills across four evenings.

In this blog, we meet the artists and discover more about their work…

Dickson Mbi
Street dance artist Dickson Mbi is renowned in the hip hip community for his popping skills, strong personality, powerful movement and positive attitude. For his latest work, entitled Duende, Dickson makes the transition to contemporary dance as captured in the BBC Four Danceworks documentary (watch here). Originally a term associated with Flamenco, Duende invites you to connect with the spirit of the artist, as he conquers the habit of concealment to reveal something of the soul’s living history. We are all visitors in the object world, stepping in and out of the light of reality. Through the ritual of dance, Duende reveals a fairy tale, animating a certain emotion from these moments of light.

Ching-Ying Chien
Initial inspiration for this piece came from an old myth about vultures. It is said that nobody ever sees the body of a deceased vulture. When a vulture knows its life is close to ending it will fly high up towards the sun and melt away into nothing. True or not, this has been the inspiration for Vulture by Ching-Ying Chien, who is originally from Taiwan. In 2017, she won the Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) award for her performance in Akram Khan Company’s Until the Lions at the UK National Dance Awards. As human beings, we feel a need to understand our surroundings and question our existence in a way that other creatures simply don’t/can’t. Vulture explores the life cycle, flaws and triumphs of the human, but from the eyes of an animal.

Joy Alpuerto Ritter
L.A. born dancer and choreographer Joy Alpuerto Ritter takes inspiration Mary Wigman’s Witch Dance in her piece BABAE. Combining roots in Philippine folk dance, classical training and vocabulary of hip hop & voguing, BABAE is a one-woman interplay between the animalistic and sensual qualities of ritual and mightiness. It examines inherited vocabularies and reconfigures the meaning of summoning the power and mystical practices of woman as witch. It’s set to this electro-orchestral sounds of Italian composer Vincenzo Lamagna who has worked with some of the most acclaimed choreographers of this generation.

Maya Jilan Dong
Whip takes its inspiration from the “Whip Dance”, one of the most popular folk dances of the Bai – an ethnic minority living in the Yunnan province in southwest of China. Amongst seventy-four other folk dances, the “Whip Dance” is charged and knitted with Bai’s history and customs. It represents their humor, primitive simplicity, elegance and energy. Only a few Bai people know the most primitive version and Whip is a modern and personal interpretation instilling a new breath into a secular dance tradition. It represents Maya Jilan Dong’s homeland and conveys the aspirations of many people. Whip is an international collaboration with the talented London based Hong Kong composer Joanne Clara.

Portraits in Otherness runs in the Lilian Baylis Studio from 5 – 8 June. Tickets are just £17 and available by calling the Ticket Office on 020 7863 8000 or book online.