I Am All Womxn – Meet the Artists
An established professional artist with over 15 years of experience in dance and movement, Ella directs Ella Mesma Company, who create diaspora dance theatre that is personal and political. Ella is of mixed heritage and grew up in Bristol. She coaches under Maya Gandaia Ltd, and champions Business Yoga: A workplace wellness concept. Ella trained in Contemporary dance at Laban/LSCD, has taught yoga since 2012 and studied politics at Leeds university. She is also a breaker and a salsera with a deep love for Rumba which has led to her creating and touring the international Roots of Rumba since 2013.
Performance highlights include Russell Maliphant Company, Lea Anderson (The Chomondeleys), Break-in Convention and Olympics Opening Ceremony.
Ella Mesma Company’s ‘Ladylike’ was runner up as ‘Best Dance Production of The Year’ LUKAS Awards (2018). The company has been commissioned by Sadler’s Wells (Wildcard 2017), RBKC (2015) Metal (2018), Breakin Convention (2011, 2012), Women’s International Leadership Conference, NYC (2017), National Circus Centre (2018), ICA Festival, Capetown (2018), IETM (2019).
Social media: @EllaMesma
A killer Musical Director, Composer, Sound Artist, Beatz Producer, Writer and Performer, Busty Beatz has been creating fearless art to activate, pollinate and liberate for over 25 years. Of Xhosa heritage and living on Jagera country in the land known as Australia, she signed her first record deal at sixteen, performing, recording and touring with bands for over a decade – this era immortalised via her contribution to Sophie Howath’s Big Day Out book Peace, Love & Brown Rice and her place in the Women Who Rock photographic exhibition of the Melbourne Arts Centre. Adhering to a manifesto of creative, collective power through collaboration, Busty creates global sonic experiences intersecting disciplines, politics, activism and soundlines using the Arts as a tool for Social Change. This beat-making Mama is co-creator with Director/Designer Lisa Fa’alafi, of the international smash hit Hot Brown Honey winning the 2016 UK Total Theatre Award – Innovation, Experimentation and Playing with Form, Green Rooms – Best Production/Best Design, 2017 Helpmann – Best Cabaret Performers, 3Weeks Editors Award – Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Sydney Theatre Award – Best Production, with 2018 nominations for the UK Theatre Awards – Best Touring Production and the Toronto Theatre Critics Award – Best Ensemble. She is the co-creator and music supervisor of Hive City Legacy with a team of Extraordinary Black Femmes and Femmes of Colour from London in partnership with the Roundhouse – this acclaimed work has gone on to a 2019 return season followed by a UK Tour. Busty has created work withThe Sick of The Fringe and London’s Wellcome Collection for installation We Are The Latest Models of Our Ancestry and was invited to be part of Barby Assante’s Declaration of Independence Venice Biennale – Diaspora Pavilion. Busty Beatz is a sound visionary, defying genres and bringing her fierce empowerment to mobilise museums, galleries, theatres and public spaces, all while leading audiences onto dance floors across the globe.
“We’re re-matriarching. So we’re coming back into a space that is female-led and specifically, Black and Indigenous female-led.” “It’s like what Audre Lorde, the poet and amazing writer has talked about self-care as warfare. By your self-preservation, and having the time for yourself and your community, it means you’re able to hold space.” Download and read Busty Beatz transcribed interview here.
Social media: @bustybeatz & @Hotbrownhoney
I am a freelance, independent movement artist. A hip hop head. A lover of film. Using predominantly movement vocabulary, my work is rooted in storytelling and documentation. I am inspired by social evolution and art healing communities. Underpinning my work are three key aims, to: honour people, document stories and inspire change. The duality of my work lies in its political context and visceral delivery. I engage with my creativity by connecting to my community and in this way, everything is collaborative; from performance, to choreography to teaching and all that falls in between. I align my values with my work and let this lead me. Recent manifestations of this include, ‘The Tide’ (UK Tour), ‘Hive City Legacy’ (UK Tour) and Colmeia Integra (Brasil).
“Hip-hop has served me as an alternative universal language” “Hot Brown Honey shattered a lot of those boxes for me, and labels that I had placed on myself” “Unfortunately we still don’t programme womxn of colour in these spaces.” Download and read Elsabet’s transcribed here.
Social media: @elsabetter
Yami Rowdy (Lofvenberg):is an established artist with over 21 years’ experience within Hip Hop Dance and Theatre sectors. Between directing and performance work, Yami creates and delivers dance and theatre workshops across the UK and Internationally. Concentrating on collaborations, working with companies and individuals to bridge the gap between theatre and dance she challenges participants to explore a new take on theatre whilst confronting preconceptions and stereotypes. Using her broad knowledge of Hip-Hop Culture and movement Yami loves working with comedy, characterization, spoken word, and cross-arts. Her skill of teasing out questions and finding the why has seen her collaborate with a multitude of diverse artists throughout her career. Key topics she often works with; racism; social and political structures; equality and intersectional female empowerment.
Hive City Legacy (Roundhouse/Quiet Riot), Afroabelhas (Roundhouse/British Council Brazil/Tempo Festival, Brazil),
Kind of Woman (Camden People’s), Fuck You Pay Me (Bunker).
Breakin’ Convention (Sadler’s Wells), Talawa TYPT 2017 (Hackney Showrooms), Boat (BAC)
British Council and Arts Council England recipient, One Dance UK DAD Trailblazer Fellow, Marion North Recipient, and Talawa Make Artist,
Creative dance team on the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony and is a member of Australian sensation Hot Brown Honey
Download and read Yami’s transcribed interview here.
Social media: @rowdyyami
Emma Houston: is a dancer, choreographer and teacher based in London, UK. Recently performing in Boy Blue’s latest production ‘REDD’ and Kate Prince’s ‘Message In A Bottle’, Emma also represented UK at the Redbull BC one Bgirl cypher 2019 making it to the semi finals. Emma has choreographed and directed for brands such as Levis and Adidas and is passionate about dance as a tool for positive change. Emma’s work centres around identity and LGBTQ+ visibility and representation, with her company Houston Dance Collective’s The Purple Jigsaw performing at Sadlers Wells Breakin Convention, Shoreditch Town Hall’s Identity and Levi’s and ELD’s Equality Always Fits at Richmix. The company’s outreach work also includes LGBTQ+ dance workshops aimed at improving young people’s mental health through movement.
“I think gender does play a big part in the way that a womxn’s value is seen or not seen in the scene” “I’ve come up against these invisible glass ceilings because of my biological sex at various points.” Download and read Emma’s transcribed interview here.
Social media: @BgirlShortbreadUK
Azara is a multi-disciplinary artist that likes to express her views through live art and film using poetry, breakdancing and theatre. Through these different art forms, Azara shares her personal politics on sexuality, gender, racism, classism and homophobia. Azara aims to identify the struggles faced in trying to maintain individuality, but also highlighting the cultural limitations, beliefs and society’s stereotypes that Azara does not adhere to. Throughout her developing career Azara has worked with a variety of artists such as, playwright Roy Williams, Company 3, Talawa Theatre Company, Duckie, The Cocoa Butter Club, David Hoyle, Ursula Martinez, Ella Mesma Company and Some Voices. Azara has also performed as a dancer at Sadler’s Wells Theatre and The London Olympic Opening Ceremony 2012.
Over the past year before the pandemic, I have been developing my new exciting and hilarious showJust Another Day and Night.This show has been growing over the last three years showcasing at venues such as The Lowry, The Place Rich Mix and Hackney Showrooms. It has just finished its ACE funding for the last stages of development and is now proceeding for a tour in 2020. I previewed this show at Ovalhouse and Streatham Space Project. There are also interests from Sadler’s Wells Theatre, but due to the current pandemic further developments have been put on hold. Although I am the Artistic Director of the project, whilst being the performer, I have been supported by Spin Arts producer Rosie Watts and mentorship from Duckie. In addition to this project Azara has toured the UK with the Ella Mesma company’s show ‘LadyLike’, and with the Roundhouse hit,Hive City Legacy.
“When I went into breaking, I felt like there wasn’t a role or an image I had to be to enter into that space. I felt like I could just present myself… It was reflected back to me by the diversity that was around in that scene, and the freedom that was in that scene. Everybody has their unique style. You all have your foundations, but it’s you and your freedom to put your own spin and your flavour onto what that is. I felt that was my kind of definition of myself as a woman… Free to put whatever textures and feelings and understandings of what that is and (how I) express that”
Download and read Azara’s transcribed interview here.
Social media: @azararm