Yorkshire Dance

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Re-Imagining Liveness – Meet the Artists

Project Team


Rachel from Gracefool Collective (Photo: Davey Poremba)

Kate from Gracefool Collective (Photo: Rebecca Holmberg)


Gracefool Collective: Feminist, forthright, and fiercely funny, Gracefool Collective make interdisciplinary contemporary performances about the absurdities of modern existence. Our work provokes, delights, and defies convention through a series of sketches, scenes and images that offer a mixture of play and provocation, “delicately balancing skilfully crafted verse with impeccably executed physical theatre” (Edfringe review).

Our current work This Is Not A Wedding, a surreal reimagining of our traditional rite of passage celebrations, was invited to open the prestigious National Showcase for Dance: Surf the Wave at Pavilion Dance South West in 2019 and has just completed an 18 date UK tour.  The work was selected to be part of BBC & One Dance UK’s Dance Passion Day 2019, celebrating the best of British Dance. This Is Not A Wedding was voted by the BBC as one of the top 9 amazing moments of day.

Our previous work This Really Is Too Much, a contemporary portrait of womanhood, first toured as a double bill, Convicts & Lunatics, with renowned Red Ladder Theatre Company. It’s since been performed nationally and internationally to critical acclaim, including a 4 and 5 star run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it gained the Underbelly Untapped Award for ‘innovative new writing.’ In 2018 This Really Is Too Much won the coveted Stockholm Fringe Grand Prix Award for Excellence in Performance Art.

Previous commissions include Choreodrome (The Place) 2017 & 2018, REVEAL (Bolton Octagon), Arrivals/Departures festival (Northern School of Contemporary Dance/Yorkshire Dance), Furnace (Leeds Playhouse) and two Northern Connections commissions 2015 & 2017. We’ve also twice been shortlisted for the Vantage Arts Prize and were the 2014/15 beneficiaries of CATAPULT – awarded each year to the most exceptional emerging artists in the north.

‘The collective leadership, authorship and performance phenomenon that is Gracefool Collective is unique in the contemporary dance landscape and brings a fresh and sharply intelligent female voice…The work is current, bold, relevant and increasingly brave in risk taking” – Janet Smith (former Artistic Director of Northern School of Contemporary Dance).

(Photo: Aldona Lis)

João Maio:
is a contemporary dance artist and creative producer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. In 2009, he enrolled on the 3-year professional contemporary performer course in Balleteatro Professional School, Porto. Following this, João moved to England to further develop his artistic practice at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance (NSCD), where he graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in 2015.

Whilst training at NSCD, João was invited to work with Carlos Pons Guerra’s DeNada Dance Theatre, playing the soloist role of the Virgin Mary in “O Maria”. Following this, he worked with Rosie Kay Dance Company in several projects (including the 2017 and 2018 U.K. tours of “MK Ultra”); Lizzie J Klotz in “This is a show about lying” and Gracefool Collective, as rehearsal director/tour manager on the tour of “This is not a wedding”.

After completing the MA in Dance & Creative Enterprise at NSCD (2018), João began to work as a Creative Producer independently and for Leeds-based community development organisation Open Source Arts. João continues to develop his interest in furthering his understanding of the national artistic ecology and enhancing it, also being the Independent Board Member at Leeds Dance Partnership. (www.joao mario-dance.com)

(Photo: Roland Baege)

Esther Manon Siddiquie:
is an artist working through performance, family archives, writings and technology. Her works have been presented at the New Lab in Brooklyn, IAC, Tanzhaus NRW, the German Consulate General in New York, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Dance Umbrella Festival, The Place and Sadler’s Wells. She has received commissions by The German Center for Research and Innovation, University Alliance Ruhr and Ruhr Residence 2017. She was a 2018-2019 DAAD fellowship recipient and a 2017-2018 Foreign Exchange Scholar supported by the Ministry of Culture of NRW (MFKJKS) and is a recipient of the Charlotte Kirk Patrick Award. She is a guest artist with Gracef**l Collective and choreographer and designer Charlotte Triebus. She holds a BA (Hons) from London Contemporary Dance School and an MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Siddiquie is an Artistic Associate at the School of Dance at University of the Arts Philadelphia where she curates The Uarts Love Café Artist Talks, a series of conversations with artists and scholars that grew out of the urge to think collectively through the current moment

Guest Artists/Speakers

Rebecca Schneider:
is Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and affiliate of Modern Media and Culture at Brown University. She is the author of The Explicit Body in Performance (1997), Performing Remains: Art and War in Times of Theatrical Reenactment (2011), Theatre And History (2014), and Remain, co-written with Jussi Parikka and Ioana Jucan (2018). She has edited several collections, including special issues of TDR: The Drama Review on “Performance and New Materialism,” “Precarity and Performance” (with Nick Ridout), and “Performance and Social Reproduction.” Her Theatre Journal essay “That the Past May Yet have Another Future: Gesture in the Times of Hands Up” won the best essay prize with the American Society for Theatre Research in 2018. Other essays include “Hello Dolly Well Hello Dolly: The Double and Its Theatre,” “Solo Solo Solo,” “It Seems As If I am Dead: Zombie Capitalism and Theatrical Labor,” “Remembering Feminist Remimesis,” and “What Happened: Finishing Live” in Representations. An essay titled “This Shoal Which is Not One: Africans Who Fly and the Shoals of St. Simon’s Island” is forthcoming in Island Studies.

 (Directors photo, Zinzi Minott at SHS Photo credit Anne Tetzlaff)

Zinzi Minott: Zinzi Minott’s work focuses on the relationship between dance, bodies and politics. As a dancer, she seeks to complicate the boundaries of dance and the place of Black women’s bodies within the form. Her work explores how dance is perceived through the prisms of race, queer culture, gender and class. Zinzi is interested in the space between dance and other art forms, and though her practice is driven through dance, the outcomes range from performance and live art to sound, film and video, dances and object-based work.

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