Having my own company has been an ambition of mine since I was 19. A platform to create my own work, to collaborate and to work within the community.
I thought I had found a name, Efia Dance Theatre. Efia is a Ghanaian name. In Ghana you are named after the day of the week you were bourn on, so my name would have been Efia. I spent about a month in Ghana in 2015 and during this time it really bacme clear to me what I wanted to do and what I want my company to do. It was a profound moment of clarity and because of this I felt that Efia would be a great name. However, as time has gone on I am not sure if it is completely right. Do I know enough about the culture? Have I spent enough time in Ghana? These questions, which I know cannot be easily answered, mean I am not entirely comfortable. And if I am not comfortable, it is not right.
So the hunt was on for a new name!
This hunt really got me thinking about the type of work I want to create, the research I want to do and the people I want to work with. I wanted the name to be connected in some way to me but not just my name.
Starting with the type of work I want to create. I have already a solo about my experiences with trauma and mental health, it was about telling my story of this experience in a way I hadn’t been able to previously. My next project is a screen dance project looking at dating, specifically first dates. Bringing in the happy, exciting, fun side along with the darker side of abuse and assault. In the pipe line I also have an idea about a feminist live work, showing experiences of women in different cultures and another screen dance project looking at anxiety.
How I would like to research. I am really interested in telling stories and experiences. Not just my own but creating a platform to tell other peoples stories and experiences, having their voices heard as well as mine. Using questionnaires and interviews to gather these, speaking to people and their experience in their voice. There is something about this grass roots and community approach I want to explore further. Then the practice based research in to how to translate these stories/experiences in to movement, text, performance.
Then the people I want to work with. I feel my extensive experience working in communities both in the UK and internationally, has a big impact on the type of work I want to create. I want to combine community and professional work, giving voices to ordinary people, who in themselves are unique and extraordinary. That would mean creating work for or with the community. I am also interested in working with other artists, spoken word artists, story tellers, digital artists, musicians and of course other dance artists. Bringing in a diverse range of people to work with, holding space for their work and bringing together our voices.
One key point that came up was storytelling. I was lying in bed (obviously the best place for your brain to come up with the best ideas, whilst you are trying to sleep!) when I remembered a podcast I had heard a while back. Elizabeth Gilbert was coaching a young woman on how she could live her ambition to be a storyteller. This young lady had Irish heritage and Elizabeth Glibert spoke about a group of people who were old Irish storytellers and the people who held the history of Ireland for the people. I couldn’t remember the name she said but something about this clicked, it would be related to me with my Irish heritage and it would relate to the work I want to create. I quickly looked up the name given to these storytellers. Seanchai. So, I couldn’t use that written as it was, no one would know how to pronounce it and having a company with a name many people can’t pronounce wasn’t useful. However, I really liked the sound of it and the meaning behind it so I started to play with spelling it phonetically.
So I proudly announce the name of my company
I would like to continue the research in to different research methodologies including connecting to the community. This has also sparked a desire to look in to my own history and family tree. Looking back at stories from my own family back in Ireland. Furthermore, after a conversation with Sarah Speis, a dance artist also based in Chester, she told me about other storytelling traditions in Africa. Specifically in Ghana. It would be great to look further in to this and connect the two traditions in two places that mean so much to me.
I will keep this blog updated with my progress in these areas. Watch this space!
Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert (2016) Magic Lessons ep 205: “call Your Real Life By It’s True Name” featuring Gary Shteyngart Retrieved January 2018, from http://magiclessons.libsyn.com/magic-lessons-ep-205-call-your-real-life-by-its-true-name-featuring-gary-shteyngart