Dance Umbrella Digital

SystemsLAB Debate Curated by Anthea Lewis | Blulilli Projects

  • Online
  • Wednesday 25 November 2020
  • 4pm GMT
  • Admission: Free, registration required
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Access: Captioned and BSL interpreted by Rabira Dachi & Rachel Jones

Watch the trailer | Video by Tony As

Shifting Ground – Reset / Reconnect / Reinvigorate  follows on from last year’s insightful discussion Tick Box / Break Glass / Look Pretty, which explored the experiences and opportunities for women of colour in the arts. We revisit this subject to discover what has changed on a personal, local and global level for each of the original panellists.

This discussion investigates how the events of 2020 impacted their lives as they explore shifts in perspectives, identities, values and priorities; reflecting on what their relationship to the arts looks like today.

As we seek pathways that lead to solutions, we also share what challenges have been faced and the tools cultivated that enable us to be adaptable, resilient and learn to trust in ourselves.

Facilitator: Dawn Estefan (psychotherapist, writer, trainer & speaker)
Panelists: Julia Cheng (Dancer, choreographer & Creative Director House of Absolute); Tracy Gentles (Director, Something To Aim For); Nike Jonah (Creative Producer)

Presented by Dance Umbrella in partnership with SystemsLAB

Artist biographies +

Dawn Estefan


Dawn Estefan

Dawn Estefan is an International Trauma Psychotherapist, Writer and Social Commentator best known for her commitment to Mental Health Community Activism and the empowerment of women. Combining challenging narratives around Mental Health with the creation of bold and innovative platforms, Dawn has an unorthodox approach; tackling and exploring everyday issues through a
Psychoanalytic lens helping those outside of the therapy world, to make sense of their lives and the world we live in. A good example of this is her “Psychoanalysis in Business” platform, which promotes “therapy for the business not the individual”, has seen her collaborate with brands such asThe National Theatre, Gal – Dem, The Tate as well as curating events such as “Creative Minds” for the Soho Music Festival. Also active in social policy change Dawn is an invited member of the Parliament Round Table Review of the Mental Health Act.

Anthea Lewis


Anthea Lewis

Anthea is a movement artist, facilitator and producer who combines these facets to produce and create work under the Blulilli Projects. This includes UnTamed a female choreographic platform, Bit Pop a digital interactive dance film with architect Jerome Beresford and the installation performance of Stay With Me For Ever as part of SHE festival by Sweet’Art and an interactive film version with filmmaker Drew Cox. Last year she was invited by Dance Umbrella Festival’s guest programmer Freddie Opoku-Addaie to curate a discussion panel and returned this year with the follow up digital discussion Shifting Ground in partnership with SystemsLAB. As a freelance producer and project manager Anthea has worked with Sara Dos Santos, Yukiko Masui, Mina Aidoo, Acrojou, the Brick Box, the Albany, Stratford Circus, Like Minds, SystemsLAB, Adidas and ASOS. Anthea was also the assistant movement director on the Young Vic production of Jesus Hopped the A Train directed by Kate Hewitt and is a Guest Dance Lecturer at Central School for Speech and Drama on the Collaborative, Devised Theatre BA course.

Julia Cheng


Julia Cheng

Julia Cheng is a creative director, choreographer, dance artist spanning 15 years in the professional creative arts industry, with works presented nationally and internationally. She was appointed as Resident Choreographer 2020 for Royal Academy of Dance, she was a judge and mentor for BBC Young Dancer and mentor for the biggest UK Hip Hop Festival, Breakin’ Convention and recipient of runner-up prize for Hip Hop Dance Futures Award 2019. Julia has worked with Chinese Arts Now for the past 5 years which is an organisation championing British East-Asian artists. She is currently a Supported Artist with Bedford Creative Arts and University of Bedfordshire. Cheng has also co-directed several operas, one of which was awarded the George Butterworth Prize 2020, curated cross-art form exhibitions, theatre shows, dance films and youth productions. As the artistic director of House of Absolute Julia has created works for ICA, V&A, Sadler’s Wells, Southbank and more.Working with a team of multi-disciplinary artists  to combine live music, technological innovation, visual arts, spoken-word and multi-media performances.

Tracy Gentles


Tracy Gentles

Tracy Gentles is the Creative Director / CEO of Something To Aim For, a new charity that works to ensure inclusion is core to the creative and cultural industries. Their current work includes: flagship arts, health and wellbeing programme The Sick of the Fringe and Us In The Making, a new digital platform for experimentation, co-creation and sustaining communities online. Set up in 2020 through the support of Wellcome, STAF is an infrastructure organisation there to enable and support others. Tracy previously worked as a practicing artist, initially based in Manchester where she is from. During this time she was also engaged as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Salford (2004-2008) before later relocating to London to work with Clod Ensemble (2008-14) as Producer. In 2015 Tracy set up artist development organisation In Company Collective, which informs the work she is doing today.

Nike Jonah


Nike Jonah

Nike has various roles in the cultural sector. She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Central School of Speech and Drama, and the lead for Popchange, a Pop Culture and Social Change initiative at Counterpoints Arts. In 2018, she launched Pan African Creative Exchange (PACE) a platform for artists based in Africa. Between 2008 and 2012, Nike led the Decibel programme, an Arts Council England initiative for African, Asian and Caribbean artists in England. Nike is a Trustee of the following; The European Cultural Foundation, The Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, The Royal Africa Society and The Bush Theatre.

SystemsLAB FAQs +

How can I join the debate?
The SystemsLAB Debate is free to attend but advance registration is required – please register above to receive information about how to join the event.

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