During Far From the Norm’s recent tour of Mama in Spring 2023, the company incorporated a fantastic artist development programme for local artists to the venues they toured to. DanceEast was delighted to invite two local artists, Isaac James and Martell Richards, to be a part of this bespoke development programme. Read on to find out more about their experience.
Both artists chose to direct the focus towards their current teaching practice and expanding their understanding of choreography. Isaac and Martell worked with Far From the Norm artists, Victoria Shulungu and Jordan Douglas, as well as Creative Director, Botis Seva. In workshops, they explored taking technique and building choreography into teaching practice, as well as movement exploration and how to use freestyle as a choreographic tool. The artists also undertook coaching and mentoring sessions with the brilliant Eva Martinez to reflect on the programme, unpack learnings and consider how it relates to their practice. Another fantastic element of the programme was the Mama Insights Afternoon – artists from across the country that were involved in the scheme joined together to watch rehearsals of Mama and hear about the company’s process – it was a wonderful opportunity for all the artists to connect with each other.
“FFTN artist development programme was a fantastic opportunity, really enjoyed the first workshop with Vicki, learning how to take warm-up and conditioning before starting rehearsal/performance work, exploring different ways of creating choreography, learning to teach the fundamentals of Popping and talking about ways we can create work for ourselves as dance artists.
Getting to travel to London to watch FFTN rehearsal of their piece Mama, really connected dots as to how some of the dancers/artists went through their process creating the piece, how they rehearse/respond with one another during parts of the piece, sharing individual experiences of what it takes to be part of a dance company.
The second workshop with Botis and Jordan was awesome, Jordan taking us through warm-up and conditioning, learning to teach the fundamentals of Krumping, which tied together really well with some of the techniques we learned with Popping and, the exercises we had done with Botis, where we used a variety of music to express our thoughts and feelings while articulating movement of ourselves and around the space. Which you can see lots of this when watching Mama.” Isaac James – Local Break Dance Artist
“I’ve recently been working with a company called Far From the Norm, and over a couple of months I was lucky enough to be invited to workshops, rehearsals, shows and coaching sessions. I’ve learnt so much from teaching, to moving your body in different ways and how things look visually. Loved every minute and they were amazing at what they do. Thank you to Lee, Botis, Jordan, Vicky and Eva for everything it’s been a massive help and much appreciated” Martell Richards – Local Street and Hip-Hop Dance Artist
“Far From The Norm values the importance of connecting with artists when on the road, touring in the UK. For us, we see the importance of exchanging with local artists who will have a different entry point into their dance styles; who may connect with movement & choreography in a different way and have something unique to offer their local community and the wider dance sector. We want to be able to encourage artists to be bold in what they create and help bridge gaps in their knowledge or skill set. However, this is not a one-way street, Far From The Norm artists gain so much from being in the studio with creatives outside of the company, it also feeds their individual practice, which eventually supports the evolution of the company. It’s a cyclic process. Ultimately, we want to push the form forward and open the door, just like those who have opened the door for us, but we can only do that by sharing our successes and failures and creating an alliance where we can pass on information, opportunities and resources.” Lee Griffiths – Far From the Norm, Executive Producer
It has been a joy for DanceEast and their artists to work on such an artist centred and thoughtful development programme.
If you missed Mama at DanceEast in April you can see their future tour dates here: https://www.farfromthenorm.com/tour