Every Thursday until the 12 May, we’ll bring you a blog post about New Shoots; a showcase of new choreography by Trailblazers starters by the Association of Dance of the African Diaspora co-curated by Freddie Opoku-Addaie.
So Freddie, you are ‘co-curating’ this showcase. Can you talk us through what your role is in this exactly?
My role as a co-curator is working with Dance of the African Diaspora team at One Dance UK along with The Place to support the artist to bring their vision (proposed in initial application for Trailblazer Starter fellow 2015) to the stage. To date this has involved being a subtle sounding board for the artists, supporting them as much as possible with all that’s needed to make the work for New Shoots happen, negotiating within parameters of a mixed bill evening.
When I agreed to take on this role, I was very clear and keen to ensure giving artists all the space and time for them to focus and live in their bubble of their creativity. It is invaluable to accept taking the time to develop ideas and to find one’s own voice before considering bringing it to the phrase of creation for the stage.
What can you tell us about the four artists involved in the showcase? What is special about them?
The array of strong ideas using the African diaspora movement language and dances in exploring diversity in practice is hugely exciting. There is tacit knowledge within each artist and the research gathered through this Trailblazer journey gives an intriguing and contrasting ideas beyond movement steps.
The ideas range from exploring ‘coming home’ and the role of the matriarch as a spiritual anchor. Transforming identity of a nation’s dance, its beauty and politics and the conflict of two identities within one body. Vocabulary that literally challenges and liberates our sense of seeing and hearing and a provocation of being in-between or not being identified within a tick box.
Can you talk us through your experience as a Dance of the African Diaspora team at One Dance UK Trailblazer Starter and Champion?
I was a Trailblazer starter in 2008/09 and Champion Fellow 2014/15. As a Trailblazer Starter 2008/9 I used my bursary to re-stage a Set In Stone on East London Youth Dance and The Place’s ‘Shift’ Youth (originally commissioned by East London Youth Dance EDYD & Youth Dance England), as part of my Robin Howard Commission evening of works.
As a Trailblazer Champion 2014/15, I have been in a long and needed research phase for Remain/s, an iteration on Shows of Hands my first full length solo work 2013 commissioned by Dance Umbrella 2013. Some of this initial ideas have been presented as part of Dance of the African Diaspora team at One Dance UK's Bloom festival at Horniman Museum & Garden last summer. In February, as well as being in an exchange in Canada-Quebec City at Musées de la civilisation with fellow dance artist Alessandra Seutin (Fellow Champion 2014/15), Andrea Queens and Canadian artist Ghislain Dot. I also furthered some ideas for ‘Remain/s’ in preparation to possibly present excerpts from Show of Hands there next year supported by British Council Canada.
So how significant is this showcase for artists and audiences?
The possibilities within these opportunities is what all artist thrive on, as you’ve read the above catalogue (not for the purpose of talking about me) but as a reflection on this, New Shoot in itself is a diverse outward look of African Diaspora practices and this showcase is taking aim at audience beyond the community local and global.
I see this New Shoots as a mini festival of possibilities in diverse practice today that goes beyond generalization.
I’ll let the Trailblazers Starters who have already achieved a lot in the sector tell you their ideas, themselves and a flavor what’s being presenting at New Shoots....