Yewande 103 launches Fountain: Exploring the intersection and significance of water with Black histories and experience - FAD Magazine

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Yewande 103 launches Fountain: Exploring the intersection and significance of water with Black histories and experience

Fountain by Yewande 103
Fountain by Yewande 103 and Alexandrina Hemsley. Image: Jack Barraclough

Inspirational dance company Yewande 103 announced today its new production and screendance Fountain, a compelling, first-of-its-kind new work created by contemporary dance visionary, choreographer, educator, writer and activist Alexandrina Hemsley, which will launch and tour across the UK this Autumn.

Fountain is a unique film that builds on Hemsley’s body of work around embodied advocacy and blends dance and digital watery environments to explore tidal cycles of repair, loss, bereavement, joy and intimacy. This powerful work draws on the symbolism and psycho-geography of water as inevitably linked to Black histories, embodiments, experiences and mental health and will tour in partnership with Picturehouse and Kauma Arts.

Fountain by Yewande 103
Fountain by Yewande 103 and Alexandrina Hemsley. Dancer: Rudzani Moleya

Guided by a tightly woven improvisational movement score created by creator and choreographer Alexandrina Hemsley, dancers Shahada Nantaba, Rickay Hewitt-Marti and Rudzani Moleya cycle through multiple interconnected, expansive, non-linear states. Contrasting digital visual effects of splashing waves conjure immersive watery states that splash, vibrate, drench and flood the screen, contrasting with a darkened theatre space as the trio shift between being seen, mirrored and camouflaged by water.

Fountain by Yewande 103 and Alexandrina Hemsley. Dancers: Rickay Hewitt Martin and Rudzani Moleya and Shahada Nantaba
Fountain by Yewande 103 and Alexandrina Hemsley. Dancers Rickay Hewitt Martin and Rudzani Moleya and Shahada Nantaba

Fountain explores the undercurrents present in a racialised dancing body, through the spectrum of experiences within Black subjectivities that water evokes, and the significance of oceanic passages and colonial carving up of water and selves within Black existences. Considering the water within our own bodies in relation to the other waters within Earth’s hydrosphere, Fountain looks at the inescapable tides of life and death, welcoming how our watery bodies exist simultaneously as tides, tombs and sanctuaries.

Fountain dancers Rickay Hewitt Martin and Rudzani Moleya and Shahada Nantaba

In 2020, Alexandrina Hemsley founded Yewande 103 to formalise the past 10+ years of work in the contemporary dance field as choreographer, performer, writer, mentor and educator. With the vision to advocate and push for change against systemic racism and ableism in the dance sector, Yewande 103 centres the experiences of Black, disabled artists and audiences to build an ethical and inclusive model of dance production.

 It’s an important moment to launch Fountain through my organisation Yewande 103, which aims to foster compassionate spaces that work with care, agency and felt-level creativity. Fountain explores ways water can hold, care, wash away, as well as draw on and reclaim space; be that physical, emotional or psychological. This will be an access-led screendance production to promote Black, disabled leadership in dance, to support and bring about change for artists who face health-based marginalisations. My vision for Fountain arose after years spent turning towards water within my poetry and independent screendance work as a metaphor for my own experiences of mental health. I have strived to make a work that takes the autobiographical and expands it into an invitation to consider and encounter each other; to build creative universes which hold, show and protect Black bodies in all our multiples.

Creator Alexandrina Hemsley

I have a deep connection and deep sense of gratitude to be a part of the Fountain production and create a new experience for our audience. It has been incredible and life affirming working and collaborating with the visionary Alexandrina Hemsley and wonderful to contour the other dancers and express all this emotion and then release it. It was powerful and necessary. I hope that together we have created a unique and timely work that can really heighten awareness and appreciation of Black experience and existence.

Dancer Rudzani Moleya

Yewande 103 Presents Fountain dates/venues below:

Cambridge Junction, Fountain (:) Live  – 14th, 15th September

Picture House:
Cambridge – 24th September
Hackney – 25th September
Finsbury Park – 2nd October
Brighton – 8th October
Norwich – 9th October
Edinburgh – 15th October
Picturehouse @ FACT Liverpool – 22nd October
Ritzy Brixton – 30th October
Online screenings to be announced!

About Yewande 103:
Yewande 103 was founded by Alexandrina Hemsley in 2020 out of a commitment to work across dance and healthcare spaces to create tender, compassionate encounters with creativity. Alexandrina/ Yewande 103’s form of embodied activism is responsive and adaptable rather than resting in specific genres; the breath of their practice sees her invested as much in discourse and organisational structures as choreographic or aesthetic enquiries. Yewande 103 lives as a platform for compassionate, embodied advocacy in action, through choreography, writing, production, artist support, facilitation and the development of mental health discourse. Yewande 103 formalises the past 13+ years of Creative Director Alexandrina Hemsley’s work in the contemporary dance field as a choreographer, performer, writer, mentor and educator. ‘Yewande’ is Alexandrina’s middle name. It has been passed down the women in their family from their great-great-grandmother who ran away from slave traders in Nigeria. She hid, survived and lived until she was 103 years old. In Yoruba, Yewande means ‘mother has returned’. There are echoes of intergenerational, nurturing and survivorship within this name and family history that speak to personal/ political lines of ancestry. This name also speaks to ways in which Alexandrina would like this company to hold others and uphold values of care and connection.  Yewande 103 is a Black, disabled and survivor-led organisation formed in response to racial, ableist and gender-based violences and biases that uphold white supremacy in the dance and wider cultural sectors.

Alexandrina Hemsley biography:
Alexandrina’s creative practice lands in the fluid spaces of dance, choreography, writing, facilitating and advocacy. Her interests turn towards the sensorial, the bodily, the multiple subjective positions of self – and self in intimate relation to self and other selves –  as ways to retrieve  breath and voice amidst the unjust and inequitable. She works with intricate improvisation scores and vivid performance environments. This includes work within organisations around anti-racism, anti-ableism and embodied advocacy. Alexandrina is Associate Artist at Cambridge Junction and was International Associate Artist 2020/21 at Dance Ireland. Her collaborations include Project O with Jamila Johnson-Small (2010 onwards, Sadlers Wells New Wave Associates) and Seke Chimutengwende (2016 onwards) on Black Holes. She collaborated with Rosie Heafford (Second Hand Dance) and Helena Webb on Dad Dancing. Her work has been commissioned by and presented at Sadler’s Wells, Battersea Arts Centre, Southbank Centre, Cambridge Junction, MDI, South East Dance, Chisenhale Dance Space and The Yard Theatre amongst others. Her poetry and critical writing has been published by Sick of The Fringe, an introduction into Selina Thompson’s Salt (Faber & Faber), SPILL Festival and Hereafter (Unbound) – a publication exploring queering the future. Other publishing includes The Silver Bandage (Bookworks) and LADA’s Live Art Almanac Vol. 5. She has an essay ‘Feeling My Way Through Several Beginnings’ in Performance, Dance and Political Economy. Eds. Katerina Paramana and Anita Gonzalez (Bloomsbury Press) and her poetry and collages feature in upcoming first issue of BIAS Magazine (Norway) and Onyx Collective’s first publication ‘Practicing Unapologetics’ (Launching at Autograph London in July 2022). alexandrinahemsley.com



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