Cindy Claes PLAYWRIGHT & DANCE-STORYTELLER
What makes the difference between a captivating story and one we will never remember? What does it take to create a memorable narrative and a dance story that leaves a print in people’s heart?
When Cindy’s path became undeniably narrative, when abstract movement didn’t fulfill her drive to tell social-political stories any longer… she knew that she could not only be a great choreographer, she also had to learn how to become a great storyteller… through dance!
The quality of the choreographic exploration is very important too of course. However, the depths of the storyline (in dance) are too often obliterated, leaving audiences somehow hungry for more and disappointed. Exploring characters, studying the journey, the underlying message and the climax in details makes narrative dance shows… a total different show! Choreographers often lack training and throw themselves into unknown field without mastering the craft of storytelling.
After nurturing her strengths as a Hip-Hop Theatre choreographer, Cindy started studying comprehensively the art of storytelling. She was first mentored by well-known dramaturge Gbemisola Ikumelo (Faith Drama Productions) for the writing of “Voices in The Alleyway”. Cindy tapped into the power of her creative writing skills in 2011. The experience was a phenomenal eye-opener. Her mentor was a risk-taker, an artist with a rare gift and an incredible coach. Later that year Cindy then took off for a 6 months trip to Jamaica and the USA. She started writing more and more dance stories with a sprinkle of spoken words. Safi Thomas, Artistic Director of the Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory in NYC, supported Cindy’s research and artistic journey by opening up her reflections about dance, and also by opening the debate about her responsibilities as a community activist. Safi’s contributions, thoughts and conversations lead Cindy to start independent research at The Lincoln Centre in NYC (Public Library of the Performing Arts in NYC). Few literature actually exists about true “Dance-storytelling” and its craft. She studied the art of Screen Writing and Creative Writing in NYC and later in London.
After spending 2011 and 2012 researching her craft, Cindy was supported by Arts Council England in 2013 to create her new Dancehall comedy show: “Is My Whining Winding You Up?”. She had the immense privilege to be mentored by renown Funmi Adewole (TheLondonHub), a Nigerian dance drama practitioner and storyteller.
Another of her incredible achievements as a playwright is “School Fi Wifey”. Cindy was commissioned by Midland Actors Theatre (Birmingham) in 2012 and 2013 to make a jamaican re-adaptation of a Moliere classic called “The School For Wives”. Cindy brought humour, Dancehall and Jamaican patois to the menu, and full-length play “School Fi Wifey” was born!
Cindy later ventured into poetry and spoken words. She is currently touring her new social-political piece “Things aren’t always black or white”, which received a standing ovation at Resolutions 2017 at The Place.