It makes me boil, boil to the bone All my efforts were in vain – I wish I had known It didn’t matter whether or not – artistically – I had grown That glass ceiling wanted me away from the throne
Initially, I saw myself rise and rise and rise During the ascension – I thought it was all lies Women were flying high – as much as the guys Little did I know it was sneering in the background – in disguise
Let me introduce you: The Glass Ceiling Ladies and Gents: Gender Inequality Drum rolls… OFF BEAT please!
It hit me hard, and by surprise.
– by Cindy Claes
It feels a little bit like…
Walking straight into a glass door.
Whether your nose is bleeding or your eye is bruised, nobody even noticed you missed the entrance.
It feels a little bit like…
Running with sweat and tears after a train who has already departed.
But your waving ain’t catching nobody’s attention.
The arts industry is poisoned by gender inequality.
Female choreographers / theatre directors are not receiving the same commissions, support and opportunities.
I don’t have all the answers on how to make a deep long lasting difference.
I can only share with you the way it made me feel:
Frustrated, sad, angry, helpless AND…
Here is a brand new opportunity for the Hiphop – Dancehall – Afrobeats – Krump community!
I will be one of the lead guest teachers on a one week course in Belgium: Groundwork. Alongside Yves Ruth, and other invited teachers, we are about to share our dance theatre knowledge with a bunch of really enthusiastic dancers and choreographers. I can’t wait!
The good news: dancers from all over the world can apply!
We will start on Monday morning. The week will be made of dance theatre workshops, creative time, reflection time, as well as a performance opportunity!!!
Everybody will reside at Destelheide during the week. It’s an incredible arts centre in Belgium. We will eat together, create together, get tired together, jam together and more! In other words, there will be zero distractions from the outside world. Only artistic expression and the team!
When I was a young dancer, I didn’t know which possibilities even existed to make a living from my creativity. It is the Hiphop Theatre world that changed the game for me. And I am always extremely excited to share what’s possible when our dance forms meet physical theatre on stage. It’s one of the most magic and rewarding experiences ever. I always see dancers’ eyes light up.
It will be a very powerful experience for myself as an artist as well.
I am about to start studying at Jacques Lecoq in Paris (physical theatre and comedy). The school gave me special permission to miss out a week of training to teach at Groundwork. I will be coming from Paris with loads of new energy and new knowledge! Let me tell you… I wanna put it in practice! So be ready to experience the fire in the belly I will be coming with all the way from Jacques Lecoq!
If you have any questions about this professional development program, please email firstname.lastname@example.org directly.
If your heart is saying YES to live this experience… do not let anything hold you back!! GO FOR IT!!
The program is for dance artists who are hungry to expand. There is no audition, it’s not about your technical skills, it is about your vision and your motivation.
PS: when they say YOUNG ARTISTS… (we have debated about this a lot) – it means 18+, but there are people who are 35 years old who want o do this as well 23 years old dance artists. We will make sure there is a focussed hard working atmosphere in the studio. You make sure you apply and don’t find excuses not to apply.
Groundwork is organised by TIMISS and DESTELHEIDE in Belgium:
Dates of the residency: 29 OCT – 2 NOV
Price: 120 euros, inclusive of food and accommodation!
To anyone who ever found excuses not to live their wildest dreams:
I thought I was pretty good at catching myself when making excuses until…
Until I hit a wall.
The wall of unhappiness.
I felt unfulfilled, stuck.
I was “busy”.
I had 2 business coaches, tried a whole bunch of new things.
I was still MISERABLE.
My creative self wasn’t expressing itself to its highest potential.
Professionally, I was stagnating*
(*more in another post)
But there was one place where I still felt home, at peace, alive, and creative: Jacques Lecoq.
Yet, I gave myself 5001 excuses NOT to study at Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Moving there for 1-2 years?!?!
I talked myself out of this dream for a LONG TIME.
My EXCUSES were:
“I am too old.”
“It’s too expensive I can’t afford it.”
“I can’t put my career on hold now. Stop the non sense.”
“Tell theaters you’ll be gone for 1-2 years… and all the hard work you done so far will go to the bin.”
“Everybody will forget about your existence if you leave.”
“Leave the dance scene for a year and you’ll be back to square one. Forget it.”
“Euh… what you gonna do in Paris?”
“People will laugh at you. They ain’t gonna understand the concept of professional development. They gonna think you were an imposture for all those years.”
“It’s too late.”
“You wanna become a better theatre director, choreographer and blahablahblah… who the F&^$$K cares?”
I wanna grow. I wanna fullfill my highest potential as an artist. I wanna stop playing mediocre and raise my game.
I had to remember that it is MY LIFE, and I CARE.
And that’s not a bad start if you wanna be happy.
Inner voice: “So… what you gonna do about it Cindy?”
I got tired of my own inner talk.
I hated the wall of unhappiness I had hit.
I spoke to a 55 years old woman living her theatre dream and felt soooo silly. My excuses crumbled.
I applied – extremely last minute.
Got onto the waiting list.
(Just getting on the waiting list was high in emotions, I cried. It was as if my soul said “YES GIRL! IT WAS ABOUT TIME!”)
Three days later, I got an email saying I go a place to start in October.
The next day I created a crowdfunding campaign for my tuition fee.
Now I am planning the move, following the path to happiness.
I trust that all the resources I need are already on its way to me. Blessings come as a full package. <3
So, too anyone who ever found excuses NOT to live their big dream… look the wall in the eye, and say “you are about to crumble down my friend” 😉
I am currently fundraising.
To support and make a donation towards my tuition fee to study at Jacques Lecoq:
I was on a meditation course this weekend with my favourite teacher (a Buddhist monk called Gelong Thubten).
We talked in-depth about the importance of integrating compassion and kindness to our practice of mindfulness.
During the meditation practice, our mind will inevitably wonder and thoughts will pop up, all in the name of distraction.
If people tell themselves things like “common’ you, can’t you focus!” it raises their stress levels.
If on the other hand, we kindly, gently bring ourselves back to focussing on the breath, without judgement, oxytocin is being released, which makes us feel safe and calm.
How compassionate are we with OUR creativity?
I am guilty.
I have definitely attended dance classes where I thought: “Common’ Cindy! You aren’t getting the groove right!”
Looked at my poetry thinking: “This isn’t good enough. You are not sharing that with the world.”
Preparing a show: “Girl, you better hurry up. Doesn’t look like ideas come quickly to you, or is it?”
Meditation combined with the practice of compassion brought me on a different journey.
Being kind to myself when ideas popped up transformed my relationship with my creative juices, but also with how I share it with the world.
Creativity and making this world a better world
As an artist, I always reflected how my creativity could make this world a better world. Whether I am creating a show, teach a class or perform, I want it to benefit society in some way, shape or form.
In Buddhism, we dedicate our practice to the benefit of others. Meditation is not a selfish act to improve our own lives, it is also a practice to benefit others, making all lives more peaceful and joyful.
I believe that when we tap into our most profound creative potential, we have the ability to impact our communities, relationships and environment. I want to see everyone feel confident in their creative approach to life.
When I talk about creativity, I mean ALL creative ventures:
– finding solutions to business problems
– being creative in our public speaking
– putting ideas on the table during a meeting at work
It is because I believe in the compassionate power of creativity, that I set up the:
DYNAMIC CREATIVITY RETREATS
A full weekend of dance, theatre, storytelling, creative writing… and compassion!
No previous experience necessary. All welcome.
SAT 25th & 26th AUG in London
The benefits of engaging in fun and mindful creative tasks impacts all areas of our lives (personal and professional).
Join us to tickle your funny bone and learn to think on your feet!
The objective of this Retreat Weekend is to:
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,
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.
Here are a few videos of some dance stories I worked on over the years:
from solo’s to full length productions… from working with professional dancers and students on their journey into the dance theatre world… here are a few extracts of showcases and rehearsals.
I am running dance storytelling workshops for all levels, and I also lead an intensive leadership program for choreographers called 1000 Pieces Puzzle. Please get in touch if you would like to book the program in your city / country / school!!
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
We are proud and excited to share with you a documentary (made by Janka Troeber) about our UK/JA Dancehall Theatre Exchange!!! It just got released on YouTube and the images triggered so many positive memories.
The documentary got shared all over social media. Here is what the students and artists who participated to the program said:
“Truly blessed and thankful to have been a part of this wonderful project thanks to Cindy and her whole team ! It’s been a life changing experience! All the hard work, trainings and lessons learned will be remembered and applied forever, and we will continue fighting for projects like this !” – Marie Popovski
“So happy I got to be part of that beautiful project!I learnt so much from the incredible Cindy Claes and the super talented @shadysquad. I’ve also met true real good friends!” – Felicia Dotse
“One of the BEST experiences of my LIFE!!!” – Matthew Richard
“One of the best times in my career. Being apart of this collective, training HARD, pushing oneself,creating, sweating, rehearsing,performing, tiredness, laughter upon laughter,international exchange new friends cest stylé!!!!!!!!. Don’t judge the shabby rehearsal clothes and heads scarf and dry lips by den image weren’t a factor!! Lets do it AGAIN AGAIN AGAIN!!!!!!!” – Natalie Baylie
“Sorry for my ugly, sweaty,tired faces but I completely released, pushed myself, my heart,me, just as I am and I felt the love of this family so much that this has been one the best training, crew, collaboration, memory, show, xchange, experience of my life!” – Michela Di Felice
I truly believe international dance theatre connections are incredibly life changing. We now also have a DONATE page so you can support more artists to benefit from such training and experiences. These projects allow artists to not only develop their performance skills but it also supported many to nurture their leadership skills. Click here to DONATE now.
Drum rolls please…. let me introduce you to our first documentary about us taking over London and the world with Dancehall Theatre: