Photo by Richard Budd
Photo by Richard Budd
Photo by Daniel Spencer
Photo by Richard Budd
Photos of the creative team by Richard Budd - Alex Wheatle, Deborah Baddoo, Steve Marshall, Michael Joseph, Keisha Grant, Bawren Tavaziva, Kenrick Rowe, Alan Weekes, Theophilous Alade, Nosiphiwo Samente
‘One of the most exciting writers of the black urban experience’ The Times
Alex is an award winning black British novelist of Jamaican heritage who has been described as one of the UK’s most exciting writers. Having spent much of his childhood in a Surrey children's home, at sixteen he became a founder member of the Crucial Rocker sound system. He began writing lyrics about his observations of everyday Brixton life and by 1980, was residing in a social services hostel in Brixton, South London. Alex was briefly incarcerated following the Brixton riots. In 2008, he was awarded an MBE for services to literature in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. His debut novel, Brixton Rock, was adapted for the stage and performed at the Young Vic in July 2010. In 2016 he won the Guardian Prize for young people’s fiction.
Having trained at the University of Surrey, Deborah Baddoo went on to gain an MA in Performance Arts at Middlesex University. Deborah went on to open Pyramid Dance Studio in London in 1985 and in 1986 she became Artistic Director of State of Emergency. Throughout her varied career she has pursued a passionate, long-term vision to support the development of Black dance and choreography nationally and internationally, and in 2010 she was awarded an MBE for services to British dance. Her productions include Dance for Life (1991), The Mission (2003-9), Desert Crossings (2010-11), Love&Sex (2013), Choices&Consequences (2015) and Where is Home? (2016-18).
Steve Marshall is a singer, song writer and producer who, in 1983, co-founded Pyramid Arts Development, a seminal music and arts centre in Dalston, East London. He set up State of Emergency with Deborah Baddoo in 1986, which was the beginning of a long association with dance-theatre. Creating original soundtrack and score led to story development and directing for dance theatre including Where is Home? (2016-18) and Coleridge Unbound (2022). Notably, Steve has produced and recorded extensively with Jamaican legend Lee “Scratch” Perry. Working with Lee led to recording and mixing projects with Keith Richards and George Clinton, and two Grammy nominations.
Since completing his training at Rambert School of Ballet & Contemporary Dance, Michael has consistently worked as a choreographer, dance artist, teacher and DSLR dance filmmaker – nationally and internationally. In 2008, he left his position as Assistant Artistic Director with Union Dance after 23 years to establish his career as an Independent Dance Artist. His work has been influenced and inspired by an eclectic mix of various choreographers, and he has had the privilege to work with Bill T Jones, Doug Elkins, Rafael Bonachela, Laurie Booth, B Boys, Axè (Capoeirista), Tom Jobe and Derek Williams.
Born in Birmingham, UK to Jamaican parents, Keisha began dance lessons in Ballet, Tap and Jazz at the age of three in the West Midlands and was awarded Most Promising Dancer on five occasions. Keisha trained at Laban Centre and Roehampton University, and went on to tour in internationally with ACE Dance and Music, Tavaziva Dance and State Of Emergency. After founding Keneish Dance in 2009, she was tipped as ‘one to watch’ in the Arts Council’s leading showcase for Dance of the African Diaspora. Most recently Keisha has been commissioned by Sheffield Oratorio Chorus, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Arts, City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Arts Council England to name a few.
Bawren grew up in a rural village near Masvingo in Zimbabwe. Football, Michael Jackson, New Edition and Kung Fu movies viewed at the local community hall provided inspiration to Bawren and his friends. At the age of 12 Bawren Tavaziva attended an outreach ballet project with the National Ballet of Zimbabwe at his local community centre. In 2004 he came to England to join Phoenix and Union Dance and went on to form his own company and become Artistic Director of Tavaziva Dance. His productions include Boy’s Khaya (premiering in 2021), Izindava 2017, Africarmen 2015, Tavaziva Ten 2014, Greed 2013, Sensual Africa 2012, Double Take 2011, Wild Dog 2010, Heart of Darkness 2009, Chatsva 2007, Bophelo 2006, and Soul Inspired 2005.
Born in London in 1960 of Jamaican parents, Kenrick Rowe is a renowned drummer and percussionist who began his career on the reggae circuit with artists such as Janet Kay, Ken Boothe, The Mighty Diamonds and Sugar Minott. Having studied with US drum master Clifford Jarvis Kenrick moved into jazz working with a number of leading artists including Steve Williamson, Jason Rebello, Ernest Ranglin and Courtney Pine. Further credits include Milly Small, Hugh Masekela, Mica Paris, Ant & Dec, The Specials and PJ Harvey.
Born in London of Barbadian parents in 1958, Alan Weekes has been in constant demand as a guitarist since 1975. Credits include Art Blakey, Aswad, Carol Thompson, Caron Wheeler, David Lynden Hall, Jimmy Cliff, George Clinton, Boy George, John Holt, Studio 1 and The Equators, to name but a few. Alan is an inspiration and a teacher to many and was a founder member of The Jazz Warriors, Jazz Jamaica and Skatronics. For the past 20+ years has run a jazz night at the Haggerston, Dalston and a ska, reggae, jazz night at the Effra Hall, Brixton.
Theo studied at Southwark College and the Laban Centre. Throughout his career he has experimented with different styles of movement including Capoeira and circus and has worked with Carl Campbell Dance Company 7, Hakim Onibudo’s Impact Dance, Transition Dance Company, Mestre Guimba’s Danca Da Liberdade, Irven Lewis Dance Company, Breakin’ Convention, and under the artistic direction of RHUC had the opportunity to develop hip-hop dance styles such as popping, locking and b-boying, alongside his contemporary, African, and street styles. Theo is an established teacher working with schools across the country teaching dance and capoeira.
Nosiphiwo has been involved in dance and theatre productions and has been dancing professionally for approximately 15 years. She is also a choreographer and dance teacher. Nosiphiwo trained at Jazzart Dance Theatre, Capetown, where she graduated to become a professional dancer. She then moved to Johannesburg where she worked for Vuyani Dance Theatre under Gregory Maqoma and The Forgotten Angel Theatre Collaborative under PJ Sabbagha. She joined State of Emergency in 2016 and toured for two years with the dance musical Where Is Home? before moving to the United Kingdom.