Aria is a dancer and choreographer, currently working on a physical theatre piece fusing contemporary dance and spoken word. Stagnant Change explores the realms of black oppression and aims to make a positive change for future generations. Here is what she has to say about the devising process and her plans for the future of the piece.
What inspired you to create this performance piece?I drew inspiration from history, learning of the Black Panther Movement in the USA and UK, about lynchings and the civil rights movement. Also learning of the origins of black people and how we were not always enslaved. These accounts of black communities and oppression made a real impact on me as it felt personal, and I also did not understand how it was that we got to this point now in present day. Being a creative individual I felt the need to make this piece as a way of understanding myself, what is was like to be black in those times and to encourage people to stop this ignorant narrow mindedness that I feel today. I want to inspire people with this performance to make a positive change in their actions which in turn will grow to make change throughout the world.
Why did you want to include spoken word?There is something about hearing poetry that evokes feeling. I have always been keen to use spoken word and dance together and this piece was perfect for this as I believe the audience can really get involved in the movement of the words in relation to the dance. From an audience perspective, words are much easier to understand than dance, for this piece Stagnant Change I wanted to take the audience on a journey. Incorporating dance and spoken word in the same performance creates a vivid imagery that holds onto the audience's senses and will hopefully sit with them long after the performance is over. The poets I have are forever inspiring and surprising me, so the journey we have been on thus far is incredible, I am really excited for future opportunities with them and my dancers too.
Where do you see this project going - what are your future plans?The piece itself is a work in progress, so future plans would be to get financial backing for it so I can develop it and push it further to become the performance I envision it to be - and have the impact I imagine it could have. I would like to tour this piece EVERYWHERE! In community centres, schools, theatres and even as a site specific - take the theatre to the audience. The true reason I created Stagnant Change was to make a positive difference, the only way I knew how - through a performance modality. I am a dancer so why not use my creativeness to evoke change and inspire young people. I would like an educational outreach programme to stem from this to teach young people from all creeds about the REAL accounts of Black history; to learn about Ruth Ellis, W.E.B Du Bois, Althea Jones, Darcus Howe, Marcus Garvey and so on and so forth, so the same names are not always being circulated (Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks).
Educating young people about this I believe will make a difference. It's as simple as showing in particular young black children that you are capable of creating something positive for yourself and society so we can begin to break down the racial stereotypes and statistics that give the impression that Black people are lesser than White or Asian counterparts.
In the big picture of global racial equality, do you think Stagnant Change can really make a difference?Yes. I have all the confidence in the world that this performance piece and the educational stem from this will inspire and help re-build communities to further make that difference. Stagnant Change is a start, a platform to build upon and I know elsewhere similar projects are taking place. The G.A.P (Getting Ahead Project) programme is already a summer school that teaches about black inventors, what good hair is and of Black histories and cultures globally with the use of art, dance, creative writing and music workshops.
Stagnant Change going on a global scale I believe can re-define the current misrepresentations that are portrayed about black people - in particular in the media, we are only ever shown to be criminals, in gangs or with an exaggerated defiant attitude. It is my intention with Stagnant Change to evoke and change in the mindset of people, world wide, until something affects us directly we generally do not take action or notice such things which only further encourages the issue. Taking this performance into community centres and schools to deliver creative workshops we can start to ask why these racial stereotypes exist and how to stop them. Stagnant Change is not the sole solution but it is certainly a great place to start.
Stagnant Change is being performed at the Zion Centre, Manchester on 8th September. Oh, and did I mention I am in it? :) Please come down and show your support for this passionate and inspiring performance.