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Dance like nobody is watching!

After an incredible collabo workshop with Sir Ledgen at Studio68 last night, we are going ahead with some “Female Steps Only” classes for the rest of the week.

Ladies, come and whine it, drop it, shake it, like nobody is watching! The female dancehall vocabulary is rich, powerful, cheeky, sexy, strong and creative. Come and learn more about technique, culture, all in an environment where self-expression, freedom and individuality is valued!

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DANCEHALL – “FEMALE STEPS ONLY” 

WED 25th MARCH 8.30-10pm 
at Maryland Studioz (Stratford tube)
£5

THURS 26th MARCH 7.30-9pm 
at iAstudios (Oval tube)
£8 / £7**

FEMALE STEPS ONLY flyer March 2015

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Wanna see videos from some previous Female Steps Only Classes?

 

 

“School” – Dancehall Theatre in progress

“School” was a collaboration between Schoy and myself which we created during my last trip to Jamaica.  I organized a series of Dancehall Theatre workshops with the support of DanceJa in March 2014. The result of this artistic process and exchange was performed at “Talent Pree: Dancehall Theatre Takeover”.

“School” is still a work in progress, and I hope we will soon have the opportunity to develop the piece.

Schoy teaches every week at DanceJa amongst a line up of amazing teachers.  Check them out if you are in Kingston!

 

Cindy

What is Dancehall Theatre? – Video Blog

What is Dancehall Theatre? The concept triggers interest and curiosity.

Cindy Claes is an artist wearing many hats: Choreographer, Dance Storyteller, Teacher, Playwright, etc. After many years of experience in the Hip Hop Theatre world, she created two full-lenght Dancehall Theatre productions in 2013: “Is My Whining Winding You Up?” (a comedic socio-political three women show) and “School Fi Wifey” (a Jamaican & Dancehall re-adaptation of a Moliere classic). She also had the honor to be commissioned by Saddler’s Wells Theatre to curated and produce a ground breaking Dancehall Theatre event in London. Wild Card: Dancehall Takeover (Feb 2014) was sold out weeks in advance and featured work from UK Dancehall Theatre pioneers as well as a collaboration between Cindy’s company, the DTX Collective, and Shady Squad from Kingston / Jamaica. Passionate about international dance exchanges, Cindy has also been leading Dancehall Theatre sessions in Jamaica Kingston, at Edna Manley College (2010-2011) and DanceJa (2014), as part of a wider exchange program she is currently setting up.

Snippet of rehearsals with the DTX Collective

“DTX COLLECTIVE” stands for “Dancehall Theatre Exchange Collective”

The project was finally set up in 2014, even though I had this vision since 2007! The idea is to nurture opportunities for artists from the UK and from Jamaica to meet and collaborate, by sharing skills or by working together creativelly.

I believe that travelling and international dance exchanges are crucial for our development as artists.

So far, the DTX Collective has been able to work with Shady Squad from Jamaica, by training with Matthew and Conray Richards intensivelly in London, and by working on a Dancehall Theatre Production at Sadler’s Wells Theatre early 2014. This is only the beginning of something bigger to come… watch out fi dis & stay tuned!

Cindy

A Dancehall Dancer’s Dream – Interview series at DanceJA – episode 3 with Nicky Trice

During my last trip to Jamaica I had the opportunity to host the new DanceJa talk show. I interviewed Jamaican Dancehall dancers, asking questions about their artistic journeys and about their dreams for the future.

Let me introduce you to Nicky Trice, a member of Rifical Team… “Love” is what they stand for, and “family” is what they represent. Listen to Nicky Trice’s dream for the future… his answer literraly blew my mind away. A spiritual lesson of life and how we relate to one another. Rifical is, as they say… spiiiiriiituuuaaaaaaallll!!!!

May your wish be granted and may your dreams come true Trice!!! <3

Cindy

Dancehall Dancerz in Jamaica/Kingston – Uptown Mondayz

I just came back from a 6 weeks trip to Jamaica, supported by ADAD Trailblazers and Arts Council England. This was my third time travelling to the island.

My initial aim was to do all my ground research and create partnerships to take the “Dancehall Theatre Exchange Program” off the ground and set up this challenging but so rewarding dance project.

Before I tell you more about my love for Dancehall Theatre, let me first share with you the realness, beauty and power of a Dancehall session in the streets of Kingston.

Uptown Mondayz is my favorite night. All the crews are on fiyah… Shady Squad, Elite Team, BG Dancerz, Supreme Blazers, Black Eagles, Rifical Team… Heaven on earth for a Dancehall passionate!! The energy is mesmerising, the vybz gets you right in there, the music takes over and your body goes into trance… Hopefully this video will give you a small idea of what Uptown Mondayz is like… taking place in the parking lot of a Plaza, the dancers go up the roof, up the stairs, down the stairs, down the roof and right there… under the spotlight, the dancers are performing and showcasing their lastest steps and creations… ENJOY!!!

Cindy

Yo! Wah Gwan – Dancehall Interviews at DanceJa – 1st episode

I just came back from a 6 weeks trip to Jamaica (as an ADAD Trailblazers 2013-14).

Every time I have the priviledge to hit Kingstonian’s soil, I do everything I can to research more in-depth Dancehall Culture as a whole.

I train with dancers, I go to parties, and now that there are Dancehall dance schools in Jamaica, I also take classes! But Dancehall is not just about the dancing, about the steps, about the Old School and the New School… Dancehall is a Culture… in other words it is something you “experience”.

I am an observer, and part of doing research is to watch and listen. It is while living, jamming, “liming” as they say in Jamaica, that you get to know people. It is simply by spending time and by having conversations that new worlds unfold around you.

I had the opportunity to lead a series of interviews for DanceJa during my trip. Yo! Wah Gwan is about getting to know the dancers, getting to know where they come from and what they dream of. Hosting this “YouTube TV Show” was an opportunity for me to understand more about Dancehall Culture and Dancehall people.

I spent weeks with these dancers, we talked, we danced, and we worked together on the “Dancehall Theatre Exchange Program”. These guys have so much talent and love to give… I hope that through my questions and their answers, you too, will see the beauty of their souls and the drive of their artistic hearts.

In the meanwhile… enjoy & share!!! I also discovered in me the talent of a TV presenter… I must say, I loved it! 😉

Cindy

TIME FOR AN UPDATE!!!

It’s been so hectic in Cindy Claes Productions’ Headquarters that I realised an update was mandatory!

What have we been up to since January 2014? Here is just a small list of what we achieved over the last few months:

UK:
– Not only did we sell out two Dancehall Theatre shows at Sadler’s Wells in London, the show was sold out 3 weeks prior to the event!
– We organised a professional development program, a one week course aimed at dancers/teachers and choreographers looking for authentic Dancehall training and wanting to further their knowledge in Dance Theatre. Not only was the DTxTP program sold out as well… we actually worked with a whole team of European students! People came over from Belgium, France, Czech Republic, UK etc to attend the program.
– We were able to invite and work with a Jamaican based multi award winning Dancehall crew: Shady Squad. The international exchange happening in London was… POWERFUL and magic!!
– We worked with a whole team of interns who went on a journey of growth! Look out for the new team who are ready to take over the world again!
– We performed a new fresh version of “Is My Whining Winding You Up?” at Wild Card: Dancehall Takover. Three women on fiyah!
– The company received Arts Council England fundings to support their dance theatre activities and international exchanges with Jamaica.

Belgium:
– Cindy Claes worked set up a new company called PuzzelB in Belgium… 8 dancers aged 15-32 who’s drive is creating tornado’s of creative happiness!
– PuzzelB was initially a one hour production produced in association with Zinnema in Brussels, Belgium. The show was massively successful, a powerful and political Hip hop Theatre production challenging society in many ways.

Jamaica:
– Cindy is an ADAD Trailblazer 2013-14 and went off to Jamaica for 6 weeks. Her main aim was to set up a Dancehall Theatre Exchange Program between the UK and Jamaica, as well as train and perfect her skills in Dancehall.
– Cindy met with the Minister of Youth & Culture.
– She also performed a new 8min solo (“Time is Ticking, Phone is Ringing”) at Dance Umbrella festival at UWI in Kingston Jamaica.
– Cindy lead a series of Dancehall Theatre rehearsals at DanceJa.
– She also produced a one hour and a half showcase at the outdoor theatre venue at DanceJa, showcasing some Dancehall Theatre work and the talent from all the crews teaching at the school. More info on Talent Pree: Dancehall Theatre Takeover coming soon!
– She lead interviews with dancers at DanceJa, she discovered a new passion: being a TV presenter, and it gave a new insight to her research on Dancehall culture.
– Cindy performed at several occasions with Shady Squad in Jamaica.
– Not only did she network and meet people about the Dancehall Theatre Exchange Program, she also featured on TVJ (Television Jamaica) Smile Jamaica to talk about the project. This interview took place at 7am on the same day she was flying back to the UK. A true highlight!!!

This is just what happened in a nutshell over the last 3 months…

More blog posts will follow with anecdotes, videos and more happiness to be shared to inspire others.

Stay tuned!!

Cindy

The “dangers” of traveling alone as a female dancer…

Many have warned me, many have feared for me, many dissuaded me to even think or dream of going to places like Kingston, South Los Angeles, Niger…. AND……………..

What happened to me?? Absolutely nothing!!

I am a caucasian white female dancer.   I am in my early thirties but I look like an innocent teenager with dimples. I traveled to South Los Angles (Compton, Long Beach) and Kingston (Jamaica) by myself. I lived in Brixton (London) and East Harlem (NYC).   I have been dance backpacking for 15 years by myself. And…

What happened to me?? Absolutely nothing!!

(To tell you the truth, Belgium is my homeland, Brussels is the capital of Europe, yet it is the city I am the most afraid of. Perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this as I might dissuade women to travel there by themselves and make bad publicity for the belgian touristic industry… but it’s the absolute truth.  As a woman, I don’t feel comfortable walking by myself, in Brussels.)

Traveling as a solo female dancer requires to travel “responsibly”. In other words, be aware of “what is so” in certain countries, don’t take unnecessary risks, but don’t freak out either. In every big city in the world it is common sense not to walk home by yourself through dark and deserted streets wearing a mini-skirt at 4am in the morning, so… just take a taxi home then.

I have been welcomed in the Krump world and met my Krump family in L.A. in 2008 (my Krump name is Lady Fudd). The dancers in Compton and Long Beach have so much love to give. Despite the many strangers who suffer mental health problems in L.A. (Hollywood is the worst!), people never bothered me in public transport (I am a dance backpacker, I travel low budget, I don’t rent a car, not even in L.A.).  However, I met people and families who would pick up on the fact that I am foreign and start talking to me because they were intrigued and interested.  And as soon as you say you are a dancer, you will make friends anywhere in the world!  Always remember, artists are appreciated!  We inspire people through our art, but also through our lifestyle and our conversations!

The first time I travelled to Kingston, Christopher Dudus, a “drug lord” was wanted by the US and the military.  Shooting occurred in Tivoli Gardens (the city centre), and curfews were imposed in many parts of the city. The media blew up the events and had a feast showing images of violence and guns…  However, they forgot to tell the world everything went quiet and back to normal after 4 days of pressure imposed on the locals. The world forgot how much we are manipulated by the media and many people cancelled their flight to Jamaica that year (2010).  Except me, of course. No need to say that these events had a huge impact on the sector of the arts (less people came to the island to take classes and see events) and the touristic industry (people were scared).  All of this thanks to the media and the stereotypes the world likes to believe in.

Every online travel forum will tell you not to go alone to a Dancehall session in Jamaica, especially in Kingston.  Well… I freestyle, I battle, I dance… I met dancers and I was respected as such in the dance community.   I met incredible dancers in the Dancehall community, and I certainly never felt in danger in a Dancehall session.  Even though I love Dancehall and I find it an incredibly rich dance form, I made a choice not to dance with men, because I don’t feel comfortable doing so.   It’s a personal choice, I don’t “dagger”.  However, I think people have a lot of fun doing it, and I respect and appreciate their personal choices. Most of them know each other from the dance community and all are good friends.   They are just having fun.   I want to highlight there has never been a man who forced me to dance with him or “be daggered” against my will at any Dancehall session.   My choice has always been respected.

At 17, I travelled to Niger. A few days before my departure, President Barre got assassinated (1999).   I went anyway. No guerilla started, no war exploded out of the blue and the people were very calm.  When I moved to London in 2005, terrorist attacks hit the city a month after my arrival.   It has been a horrible event, and I certainly don’t want to deny the pain of the families who lost their loved ones in the incident.   My only reason to mention it is to encourage lonely female travelers to go for their dreams and to be unstoppable. We are taking risks while walking down our own street, so why would we feel unsafe elsewhere in the world?  Incidents can happen on our doorstep.  Most big cities are safe as long as you use… common sense!

People told me my gender, my innocent look, my complexion, my accent or my chosen destination would cause me trouble.   I have been dance backpacking for 15 years, and what happened to me?? Absolutely nothing!! Every trip made me grow as an artist and magic happened!!  Don’t listen to stereotypes, they only exist in the eyes of those who speak them out. If your purpose is calling you to go somewhere… follow your heart!

Are we women vulnerable when traveling on our own?  Perhaps.  I admit I do have a guardian angel looking after me.  Or maybe it is my positive karma, or the deity of Green Tara.  But so do you, if you believe so.

For all the female dancers out there… I wish you many safe and magical dance trips!

Cindy

**PS: This picture was taken the first time I travelled to Kingston.  Christopher Dudus, a “drug lord” was wanted by the US and the military.  Curfews were imposed.  And regular checks happened in certain parts of the city as they were looking for “Dudus”.