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Introducing: Yinka Esi Graves

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Yinka presents CLAY here in the STUN Studio on 28 October. Here she talks more about the work and what makes her tick!

How would you describe yourself and what you do?
I am a Flamenco dancer based between the UK and Spain. Recently much of what I am creating is centred around the relationship between Flamenco and other forms of expression. Dance has always been in my life but I came to Flamenco as an adult, after studying at University. I think this has given me a certain freedom when it comes to what I want to achieve with my dancing. I’m also at the very beginning of my creative experience as a dancer, and I have a sneaky feeling it might go off in an unexpected direction! Having said that my place of departure will always be flamenco, this complex and rich art form which I continue to study and train in.

Tell us a bit about the work you’ve been making at STUN.
CLAY is a very special piece of work, it’s really the meeting of Asha Thomas and myself. Asha is an incredible contemporary dancer with a wealth of experience and when she discovered Flamenco she was fascinated by it. In our conversations we were really interested in exploring what it was in Flamenco that called us so much, specifically for her as and African American and for me as a Black British woman of African and Caribbean descent. This show is our excavation into what might be in our collective ancestral or genetic memory that has made flamenco seem so relevant to us. Or maybe the question is what is in flamenco that makes so much sense to us?

What got you started?
Following our numerous conversations, we decided to just get into the studio and see what happened. We didn’t want to put any pressure on ourselves to turn it into a show, it really was like a meeting in the studio and we liked what we were coming up with. The first time we got in the studio was in the summer of 2014, it wasn’t till a year later that we were able to get back to it and then now. So it’s been quite an organic process.

What was your big breakthrough?
Playing around with the bata de cola (train dress) one day I realised there was a brilliant way of epitomising the confluence of cultures, beliefs and rituals through one image. This very strong image is something we are using in the piece.

What’s the best advice you’ve had?
Trust and Believe!

Can you describe your process?
Processes change for me according to the project. This collaboration with Asha was my first experience of working with contemporary dance and it really opened me up to working from improvisation and given the nature of this piece, also work from the most natural place for movement. I’m co-founder of dotdotdot dance, all three of us are flamenco dancers and (maybe I should say until very recently) the process had been much more structured, musically and technically you’re often working within a given structure. Creating CLAY has been quite a challenging process of unlearning positioning, letting go and working from almost a far more instinctive and visceral place. I think the interesting thing for me as I start to create more work is to define the process that works best for me. To be continued!

More about CLAY

Artists: Yinka Esi Graves and Asha Thomas
Musical director/ guitarist: Guillermo Guillen
Artistic advisor: Chloé Brulé

11/12 October: Chateauvallon, France
28 October: STUN, Manchester, UK BOOK TICKETS
4/5 November: Mes de Danza, Seville Spain


Twitter: @YinkaEsiGraves
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1143134379058850/

About tamsindrury

hÅb is a production and development organisation specialising in the production and development of live art and contemporary performance in the North.

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