In 2021, the Noyam African Dance Institute teamed up with ME Dance Company and Conception Dance Africa from UK and Grenada respectively with support from the British Council.
The collaboration leveraged available technology to produce Oceans of Independence, an experimental dance piece that was performed simultaneously with three different countries across three different time zones in the COVID-19 era.
After a successful experiment last year, Noyam African Dance Institute (Ghana), ME Dance Professional Company, ME Dance Youth and Graduate Company, and Conception Dance Theatre (Grenada) have been joined this year by Eloquent Praise Dance Company, Kidderminster College, amongst others at the Birmingham 2022 Festival in the United Kingdom.
The festival, which forms part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, will be presenting Chain Stories; an exciting site-specific performance telling the story of those who came to contact with the chains made in the Black Country, and how that links the region to Commonwealth Countries.
Reflecting over the weeks of intensive rehearsal at the Newhampton Arts Centre, the director of the Noyam African Dance institute, Nii-Tete Yartey stated that “It is sad to think that years ago people were captured from their homes, put in chains, and sent across the ocean against their will. However, we are happy to be able to use dance and music to tell the stories of real-life people who fought for equality as well as the struggles and pain of those who were affected.”
“For Noyam African Dance Institute, the journey from West Africa, Ghana to the United Kingdom to perform at the Birmingham Festival 2022 presents an opportunity to project not only Ghana’s traditional dances, but also importantly, its vibrant and calculative contemporary dance form.
This event is sponsored by the British Council, Arts Council England, Canal & River Trust, and Black Country Touring. The project is also hosted by ME Dance UK, and directed and choreographed by Marica Edwards (UK), Nii-Tete Yartey (Ghana) and Cecilia Griffith (Grenada).
Background of Chain Stories
Chain Stories is, at its core about diversity and the current and historic fight of equality. It is focused on the Black Country and the fight for equal rights for women, whilst looking across the ocean to slavery in Ghana and Grenada, the Windrush Generation and the continued fight for racial equality in the UK.
In order to make sure that ME is doing this justice, the team is working with artists from across the diaspora, and are drawing on the experiences of Marcia’s family who originally came to the UK as a part of the Windrush Generation.
By working with people from different ethnicities, cultures and backgrounds professionally and within the community, ME Dance hopes to bridge the gap between cultures and help people to understand their identities.
The stories that will be told in the pop ups and large-scale performances are based on real people, and their struggles, embodying them and bringing them to life for the current generation to experience, inspiring them to find their voice to fight continuing social injustice in small and large ways.