Festival 2022

Panel Discussion: Forging Paths Candoco and Boy Blue

  • Online
  • Tue 18 October 2022, 5pm BST
  • Later available on demand with Digital Pass
  • Admission: Free (register below)
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Access: BSL interpreted and captioned

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Top row: Charlotte Darbyshire & Kimberley Harvey from Candoco; bottom row: Dr 'Funmi Adewole Elliott (chair), and Kenrick 'H20' Sandy MBE & Michael 'Mikey J' Asante MBE from Boy Blue

Two trailblazing dance companies celebrating landmark anniversaries come together in-conversation with storyteller, dramaturg and senior lecturer in dance Dr ‘Funmi Adewole Elliott. The talk will delve into how both companies forged paths within the dance sector, in the UK and beyond.

Joining the panel are Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy MBE & Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE from Boy Blue, and Charlotte Darbyshire & Kimberley Harvey from Candoco.

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About the Panellists +

Dr 'Funmi Adewole Elliott

Photo Pete Martin

‘Funmi Adewole Elliott is a performer, dramaturge and academic. ‘Funmi started out as a media practitioner in Nigeria but moved into performance on relocating to England in 1994. For several years she toured with Physical theatre and African dance drama companies whilst working as a dance consultant and in voluntary leadership capacities with several arts organisations. In 2019 She was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by One Dance UK for her advocacy work which contributed to a shift in perception of Black dance in the UK. She has an international reputation as a speaker. She has facilitated dramaturgical labs, conversations and panels in Europe, Africa, and Canada and has featured as an expert in a number of dance documentaries. She holds an M.A in Postcolonial Studies from Goldsmiths college and a PhD in Dance Studies from De Montfort University, Leicester where she is now a senior lecturer in the dance department.

Boy Blue

Founded in London in 2001, Boy Blue, the award-winning brainchild of composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE and choreographer Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, encapsulates the pulse of the city it was born in.  

Weaving frontline stage and screen work around the elevation of hip-hop culture, Boy Blue are an Associate Artist of the Barbican, London.  Since 2007 they have created Pied Piper (2007), which won a Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliated Theatre, Legacy (2011), Touch (2011), The Five & The Prophecy of Prana (2013), A Night With Boy Blue (2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2022), the Olivier nominated Blak Whyte Gray (2017), Outliers (2018) – Asante’s musical debut in the Barbican Concert Hall – and REDD, which premiered at the Barbican in 2019.  Film work includes R.E.B.E.L, commissioned by Sky Arts and ‘Art50’ in 2018. 

Outside of the theatre, Boy Blue collaborated with Danny Boyle to contribute to the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, Sandy leading hundreds of young dancers before staging the handover of the Olympic torch and the lighting of the Cauldron.  

In 2021 Boy Blue worked with Good Chance Theatre Company to create a mass dance piece performed in Trafalgar Square, celebrating Little Amal’s 10th birthday as part of The Walk project. 

With a company ethos befitting of the founder’s roots, and a long-term commitment to education, Boy Blue can be found running a highly respected dance education programme in east London. Using a typically unique approach, they enable more than 100 young dancers to train weekly alongside professionals.  In addition, their work Emancipation of Expressionism is a set work of the AQA GCSE Dance syllabus – the first hip-hop dance theatre piece to be included – and was filmed in 2017 by Director Danny Boyle and subsequently screened on the BBC.

Kenrick 'H20' Sandy MBE

Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy MBE, Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Boy Blue, Associate Artist at the Barbican London, is undoubtedly one of the most renowned choreographers and performers in the UK commercial and theatrical scenes.

Sandy’s credits are extensive having worked in TV, film and theatre, at home and abroad, alongside Boy Blue’s 2001 inception. As a choreographer he’s responsible for REDD (2019), Outliers (2018), the Olivier nominated Blak Whyte Gray (2017), The Five & the Prophecy of Prana (2013), A Night With Boy Blue (2018, 2016, 2015, 2013) and Olivier award winning Pied Piper: A Hip-Hop Dance Revolution (2007). He also co-directed and choreographed Unleashed for the Barbican (2012).

Off the main stage, Sandy collaborated with director Danny Boyle for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, winning the Evening Standard’s Beyond Theatre award. Sandy also worked on the Closing Winter Paralympic 2014 Ceremony and the 2007 Tour De France opening in Trafalgar Square, London.

On screen work includes choreography on the BAFTA Awards, for All Stars and T2 Trainspotting, plus appearances on Street Dance 3D, the BBC’s So You Think You Can Dance and CBBC’s Alesha’s Street Dance Stars. In 2015 he judged the inaugural BBC Young Dancer competition. As a performer himself, his repertoire includes Legacy Re:Loaded at the Jerwood Dance House and Jonzi D’s Lyrikal Fearta Redux at Sadler’s Wells.

No stranger to the music industry, Sandy, a former UK Street Dancing Champion, has performed with Victoria Beckham, Fergie (Black Eyed Peas), Leona Lewis and George Michael to name a few. Accomplished in all styles of street dance – break-dancing, popping and gymnastics – Sandy’s also created choreography for an array of artists including FKA twigs, Rita Ora, Plan B, Dizzee Rascal and Alexandra Burke. Brands have also called for Sandy’s Midas touch; work with Nike, adidas, Castrol and ASOS starring on his CV.

Born in east London, perhaps the most surprising element to Sandy’s story is that he didn’t start dancing until he was 19. With long-held dreams to be a basketball player, the course of his life quickly changed when he joined his first dance troupe, Ruff Stuff, led by MTV’s Kat B, where he soon became the trickster, thanks to his acrobatic abilities.

Fast forward and in 2017 Sandy was an awarded an MBE for services to dance and the community in the Queen’s New Years honours list, an Honorary Fellowship (HonFGS) from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2018 and in 2019, a Companionship from LIPA.

Michael 'Mikey J' Asante MBE

Photo Benji Reid

Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante MBE is a renowned producer, composer and DJ, whose 20-year career history is firmly etched in the UK black music industry.

As co-artistic director of hip hop dance theatre company Boy Blue, founded in 2001 with Kenrick ‘H2O’ Sandy, Asante is credited with the direction and composition of REDD (2019), the film R.E.B.E.L (2018), Outliers (2018), Blak Whyte Gray (2017), The Five & the Prophecy of Prana (2013), Touch (2011), Legacy (2011) and Pied Piper (2007).

As a producer, Asante has worked with major label artists including Delilah, Raleigh Ritchie, Estelle and George The Poet. Notably Asante has worked extensively with Kano including engineering and production on the critically acclaimed album Made In The Manor and the albums Home Sweet Home, London Town and 140 Grime Street. Recent television and theatre work includes composition for Tree, a Kwame Kwei-Armah and Idris Elba creation for Manchester International Festival, composition for Clotilda: Last American Slave Ship a National Geographic documentary special, the BBC documentary The Three Lives of Michael X, and a collaboration with Brian Eno over two series of Netflix’s Top Boy.

Outside of the studio, Asante mentors and delivers master classes in directing, choreography and music and is also found residing in the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s faculty as a Professor of electronic music, from where, in 2018, Asante was awarded an Honorary Fellowship (HonFGS). Asante received an MBE to Hip Hop Dance and Music in the 2022 New Year’s Honours.

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