These recent times have been some of the hardest challenges we’ve faced and as a community, it hit us pretty hard. However during these difficult times, here at Pocket Size Theatre, we wanted to spread a little positivity and celebrate the work that people are still managing to generate during these difficult times. In this ‘Spotlight On’ series, we’ll be speaking to our friends in the industry to share what they are up to during these challenging times and how you can be involved.
Let’s stick together, share the love and get through this as a community!
Here we chatted with Ella Mesma from ‘Ella Mesma Company’, a diaspora dance theatre company.
Can you give us a little intro into who are and what you do?
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, as a path for transformation and for change. I have a holistic approach to creativity and love to connect with my audience through discussions and play (whilst ensuring the audience never feel pressured to join in!)
What made you want to start Ella Mesma Company?
I have always been creative, but didn’t start dance until late. In 2011 I was invited to create and perform a solo called Evol at Breaking Convention (Sadlers Wells), and this was the birth of the company. It was important for me to reach those who wouldn’t necessarily have a background in theatre. As a woman of mixed heritage, I wanted my artistic voice, and the voice of others who are under-represented to be heard on stage.
Whats the company up to during lockdown?
We have been offering online classes and coaching. We also created a video with 33 amazing hip hop women called ‘I Am All Womxn’. Each womxn created their section in their homes all over the world (filmed in the UK, USA, Portugal, Cyprus, Brazil). I Am All Womxn is an extremely varied creative interpretation of the spoken word piece “I am a woman” by Bridget Gray, each section choreographed by the individual dancing it in reaction to the lyrics, these times, and the dancer before them. You will see many different styles of dance: Breaking, House, HipHop, Locking, Popping, Krumping, Waacking and more. We hope this piece will celebrate womxn in our entirety and empower more of us to embrace every side of ourselves as womxn.
How/can people get involved?
When this is all over what do you think the landscape of the industry will look like?
I think in some ways it will be evolved for the better: I feel organisations are really listening to artists more. I also think there will be more safeguarding in place: there have been some gross misconducts which are emerging in these times.
I hope that industries will reassess their teams and reappoint to reflect society (bringing more diversity to their leadership).
I think it will be very hard for the artist to continue with no funding, so I do think many people will turn to other ways to make money: we all have to be quite creative at these times. I also think artists will learn to collaborate, to work without organisations, to better understand their boundaries and sovereignty, and to be even more creative coming out of this space.
Is there something that is happened during Covid19 that’s surprised you? For better or for worse!
Seeing people waking up to systematic institutional racism, reconnecting to long lost friends, and also the witnessing of many womxn finding the confidence to come forward and have a voice in areas where the system silenced them before.