My first attempt to sum up 1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017) – BLOG 1

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Jazz music in the background, the smell of coffee and rose white tea, steam coming out my mug, all of a sudden… my eyes lit up!

“1000 Pieces Puzzle isn’t a project, it feels more like a movement.”.

I am sitting in a coffee shop, an informal catch up with Theresa Beattie, a phenomenal woman who has several decades of experience within the arts as a producer and artistic director. Her words resonate and echo a couple of times in the space… It feels like my mind stands still for a second.

It’s been 2 weeks now since we wrapped up the 2017 edition. I have desperatelly been trying to write a simple Facebook status, but not a word is coming out! Have you ever had a creative block when writing a Facebook status?!?!

1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017 edition) has been such an emotional rollercoaster of growth, an experience made of magic, bubbles and sparkle, it was such a powerful heartwarming event that I have been unable to write anything that would give it justice.

It was “life-changing”, as many participants described it. And life-changing moments are sometimes better described in silence than in words.

Sipping tea, my mind keeps repeating Theresa’s words in a loop: “1000 Pieces Puzzle isn’t a project, it feels more like a movement.”.  My frozen stillness felt like decades even though I am sure it must have only taken a few seconds before I tried to speak again.

Theresa had heard of the programme last year, I had invited her as a consultant to be a part of a Business Brainstorm weekend to move Cindy Claes Productions forwards. Twelve months later, she saw the results live. An explosive collaboration between 30 dancers, and 4 countries: UK – Belgium – Jamaica – USA.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is an international dance exchange and leadership program I set up a few years ago. It is mainly, but not exclusivelly, aimed at supporting Hiphop, Dancehall, Krump, House and Afrobeats dance artists.

Ten years of day dreaming, 100s of sleepless nights and many flights later, the program is now a massive success, empowering artists and dancers with the necessary tools to make their own dreams come true.

Being speechless has its beauty, but if I want the program to expand and give opportunities to more leaders from the dance industry to rise, I must go on a quest of finding the rights words to describe “it”.

I take a sip of my tea and loudly respond: “YES! YES! Theresa… YES!”. A movement. This actually sounds right.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is about nurturing citizens of the world a.k.a. artists of the world. It is about highlighting the importance of each individual and his/her dreams, it is about reminding artists of the power of their artistic expression and making sure all involved use their creative work to make this world a better world.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is about building a society based on win-win situations. It is about embracing the champion that we are and about boosting the leader within ourselves. It is about supporting others generously and at the same time finding the courage to strive fully for our own ideas to come true.

1000 Pieces Puzzle had nothing to do with me, it was something way beyond the human being that I am. 1000 Pieces Puzzle carries an energy in itself, uplifting, joyful and a strong feeling of being ready to take over the world. It’s a mindset thing, in action, continuously in action, continuously in motion. It is something that happens within the interactions, the exchanges and the collaborations. The energy is created in the space by the dancers, for the dancers. And this energy travels beyond the studio, it has a domino effect and goes beyond the group that we were.

1000 Pieces Puzzle is a movement.

Thank you Theresa,

Cindy

More blog posts will follow after this first attempt of writing more about 1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017).

***1000 Pieces Puzzle (2017) was presented by Cindy Claes Productions and Zinnema, in association with East London Dance.

***Photo by Alex Rumford.

Audition Brussels – 12th Feb

BRUSSELS:

Looking for 4 additional dancers for a new & refreshing artistic project.

We are looking for dancers who have a strong background in either Hiphop / Dancehall / House / Afrobeats or Krump; to create new dance theatre work exploring the themes of police brutality in Brussels and the Belgian prison system. 

 

We are looking for dancers who:
◇have a strong interest in Hiphop Theatre / Dance Storytelling
◇are passionate about using art to bring social change
◇are eager to use creative platforms to bring new refreshing discussions to the table through art
◇are hungry for professional development

The project will offer:
◇The opportunity to work 2 days with Benji Reid, a U.K. Hiphop Theatre pioneer / choreographer and renown theatre director
◇The opportunity to work alongside Cindy Claes, choreographer based in London
◇professional development for dancers who want to expand their performance skills
◇professional development for emerging choreographers
◇networking opportunities (Zinnema, international dance exchanges, etc.)

The project is unpaid but lunch will be provided during the last week of residency. Cindy Claes Productions (UK) and Timiss (Belgium) have as focus to invest in local upcoming talent, empowering leaders of the future. Our aim is to provide a platform for growth, reflection and artistic expansion for all involved. The project is fully supported and programmed by Zinnema, an arts organisation based in Anderlecht.

Important Dates:

Audition & networking workshop:
12th February (morning)

Rehearsals (all day):
from Fri 24th March until Sun 26th March
from Fri 21st April until Fri 28th April

Show:
Sat 29th April

How to apply?

Please email TIMISS mouss@timiss.be with the following info:
max 500 words to tell us a little bit more about yourself (background and also your motivation!)
a short 3min dance video where we can clearly see your skills (freestyle / choreography / jam / battle videos accepted)

More info:
www.cindyclaes.com

Why you should book your ticket for the 24th Jan

On Tuesday 24th January, I will be performing my new re-branded solo “Things aren’t always black or white”.  While I will be warming up back stage, you will stroll into the theatre at 8pm and watch 3 companies perform their new creations at The Place.

This new solo is a political story told through Dancehall and Hiphop, tackling the problems related to the privatisations of prisons.

BOOK TICKETS HERE

I performed the piece in front of a few small audiences during the creative process, here is what they had to say:

 

I have also had the privilege to work with two mentors, Gbemisola Ikumelo, playwright and theatre director, and Frank Wilson, Hiphop Theatre expert:

 

Coming to the theatre on Tuesday will also mean you’ll get to make new friends, socialize and have a great night out, they got their tickets… are you ready to book yours?!!!

 

BOOK TICKETS HERE

 

Book your tickets NOW for Cindy’s upcoming solo performance!

 

I am starting the year sweating and rehearsing for my next upcoming solo. Clear your diaries and make sur you are free for…

“Things aren’t always black or white”

TUESDAY 24th JANUARY

at 8pm, The Place

(near Euston tube station)

BOOK YOUR TICKETS HERE

 

VIDEO TRAILER:

WHAT INSPIRED “Things aren’t always black or white”?

The story of what and who lead me to create this solo is quite a journey… From NYC to Philadelphia to Brussels, I came across so many signs, people, cold factual information, tears, questions and events that it all had to be translated into a piece.

One of the shocking images that stays in my mind each time I rehearse is… those 50 coffins. Visiting my Krump dance family in Los Angeles in 2016, I saw bout 50 coffins when entering the dance studio…

It was an arts project. Young men who passed away at the hands of police brutality were remembered through colors, collages and graffiti art.

“Things aren’t always black or white” is a Dancehall / Hiphop Theatre piece, a dark poetic dance drama, exploring the themes of police brutality, mass incarceration and the ugly realities of privatized prisons.

My solo performance is part of Resolutions, a triple bill shared with MCDC and Jannick Moth. We are all very eager to bring a raw night of dance theatre to our audiences.

TICKETS:

http://www.theplace.org.uk/whats-on/jannick-moth-and-company-cindy-claes-productions-mcdc

Thank you for your support, looking forward to sharing this piece with you,

Cindy

When OM goes wrong

I can mess around quite a bit in the studio, new ideas and concepts come and go.

If you wanna know what could happen when the meditative OM goes wrong… watch this video!

Visit the website for information on character exploration workshops.

 

Choreographer for Music Video

Just before the summer I was choreographing and coaching singer Lao Ra for her new music video Drum Machine.

The behind the scenes were made of a green screen, loads of costume changes, coaching on movement and facial expressions, make up and hair-did, etc.

Wanna see what that day look like behind the scenes?

 

 

 

Dancing Character Explorations

Sometimes it is about letting loose and not taking ourselves too seriously.

When you in the studio having a creative block, give yourself a couple of minutes and throw in a character exploration jam…

Which one did you like the most and which character do you want to know more of?

 

 

My journey into Afrobeats

I fell in love with Afrobeats a long time ago.

As a young Belgian Hiphop dancer, I trained and was brought up with the influences of N’Dombolo and Coupe Decale. Since then the term Afrobeats and the scene has gained in popularity and expanded movement vocabulary to cover the practices and rich popular traditons from the whole African continent.

The researcher and passionate artist in me wanted to dig deeper and train, and research, and understand more of this life-fullfilling phenomenon.

Here are a few videos of my journey into Afrobeats, hope you enjoy it! I am forever a student and expanding creativelly!

I also attend regular classes in London taught by Homebros (follow them on social media if you are looking for Afrobeats classes!):

 

 

 

Two plays I worked on as a Movement Director…

I am passionate about using movement to tell stories, especially when it comes to using dance forms such as Hiphop, Dancehall, Krumping, Afrobeats, etc. in Theatre.

I am an Associate Artist of Faith Drama Productions and our collaborations have been blossoming, booming and flowing since 2008!

Over the last 6 months, I have worked alongside Director Gbemisola Ikumelo as a Movement Director on two new productions.  Both plays were hard hitting stories, with movement at it’s heart.

 

Here are the trailers of THE DEN and CUSTODY:

 

 

 

Selling Yourself Without Selling Out

1000 Pieces Puzzle is a Dance Career Bootcamp ran by renowned dance theatre choreographer and playwright, Cindy Claes. The program covers absolutely every subject you could possibly need to know to carve out a career for yourself in dance.

The first training program was held in Brussels, Belgium, over 5 weekends in January and February 2015.  Supported by Zinnema, the bootcamp was a true success!

In a theatre in Belgium called “Zinnema”, a dozen dance students in the program worked with professional mentors to sculpt a short performance piece over the space of five weekends. They learned choreography, storytelling through dance, creating a character for the stage and… they even studied project management and tools to budget their shows!

Artists of all mediums have never been known to have the best business skills.

Master painter Vincent Van Gogh, the archetype of the starving artist, famously never sold a single painting in his entire lifetime. It’s exactly that mindset that Cindy is trying to change. She believes that the key to becoming successful (whilst your still alive) is a sound business sense.

During the first weekend of the bootcamp, Cindy asked the dancers to stand up in front of the group and describe themselves as an artist in less than 2 minutes. For most of the students this was confronting, they where at a loss for words and found it hard to say more than “……I’m a dancer… and hmmmm…”.

So over the next month Cindy Claes, along with Kate Scanlan (founder of Scanners Inc., UK) and Jan Wallyn (Artistic Director of Zinnema) delivered a series workshops in budgeting, networking, marketing, pitching to funders, considering target audience, amongst many more.

The challenge for the dancers was that just five weeks later they would have to pitch themselves again, but this time, in front of a professional panel of judges who would be awarding one prize to the person and creative project with the most potential.

“A lot of dancers want to put shows together… but if you don’t have the skills to articulate your ideas and vision clearly, funding bodies and theatre venues aren’t going to invest in your potential. That’s why these professional development programs are so important.”  – Cindy Claes

The heat was on, but the dancers held true to their training.  When the final weekend came, all choreographers where able to speak with clarity and confidence about themselves, their artistic vision and their plan to achieve it. Each and everyone of them had a incredible breakthrough!

Zinnema was so impressed by the transformation of the artists, their pitches, and the quality of their final shows, that they decided to award not only one prize (as originally intended) but to triple their entire prize pool!

 

Jenny Onya received a commission of 1500 €, 10 days of rehearsal space in kind and technical support to develop her work.  She created a Dance Theatre piece based on rape and the suffering of women in the Eastern Congo region.  The extract her dancers performed on the night was very moving, bringing many audience members to tears.

Mouss Sarr also received a commission of 1500 €, 10 days of rehearsal space in kind and technical support to develop a creative project he wants to produce.  Based on inter-disciplinary collaborations, Mouss will be producing a one day festival which will result in a mond blowing performance.

Camile and Anissa, two young Hiphop freestyle dancers received logistic support and business mentoring for a project that is close to their heart.  They will run a course and program for young Hiphop freestyle dancers during te winter, providing a wamr and safe space for young people to train as well as workshops in variety of street dance techniques.

 

It goes to show that there is a subtle art to being successful, and with the right mindset and the right mentor it is something anyone can learn. Talent isn’t everything. It’s only one piece of the Puzzle.

And as Will Smith would say”

“Skill is only developed by hours and hours 

and hours of Beating on your craft… 

there’s no easy way around it, 

no matter how talented you are you talent is going to fail you 

if you’re not skilled, 

if you don’t study, 

if you don’t work really hard and dedicate yourself 

to being better every single day

you’ll  never be able to communicate with people with your artistry 

the way that you want.” – Will Smith 

 

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Written by Sara Kerrison

Edited by Cindy Claes

 

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