Roots of Rumba 7th July 2018

Roots of Rumba (established 2013 at Richmix) began as a mission to create a platform for established professionals and emerging Latin dance artists to present Dance Theatre with Afro-Latin dance and themes at the heart.

Roots of Rumba Northwich will showcase Afro-Latin dance from local, national and international professionals and emerging artists. The event includes a theatre show and pop up workshops as part of the Northwich Urban Festival at Barons Quay on the afternoon of the 7th July (more info coming soon) and a performance at 7.30pm at the Lion Salt Works in Northwich.

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Interveiw with Ella Mesma

What is Afro-Latin Dance Theatre?

"Originally I was defining Afro-Latin Dance Theatre as : Rumba, Tango, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brasilian, Samba, Salsa, Capoeira, Baile Funk, Kuduru, Bachata.

Following extensive research with the help of Degna Stone (Slate enabler) and interviews within my communities, I have given it a broader definition including (especially if references in music are theme are made) to Hip hop (Many formswere created by the Latin community in the USA), Caribbean dances including Haitian dance, Dance Hall... African dances such as Sabar, Kizomba and Mapouka, because all Afro-Latin dance forms can be traced back to Africa in their roots.

Why did you start Roots of Rumba?

“I LOVE Latin dance. Growing up on the salsa scene, I am naturally a huge fan of Eddie Torres, Yamulee, Swing Latino, Tropical Gem and all the others who tour the congress scenes worldwide. These dance shows are amazing: with impressive movements to showcase these beautiful dances. They are also often very ‘front facing’ and have similar teeny tiny costumes for the women and big big smiles (that often as a performer felt forced or that they didn’t convey what I was actually feeling and thinking). Training as a contemporary dancer was hard at first, because I moved so differently and often latin dances are based on call and response or improvisation, so I felt that Contemporary Dance was a very different world: One where I was not sure I belonged. I began to that notice that my dance forms didn’t get the same respect and opportunity to shine as contemporary and ballet and to wish for them also to be put on the stage with a similar reverance. After touring with contemporary Companies like Russell Maliphant, and working with Jonzi D (Breakin’ Convention) who is one of the founders of Hip Hop Dance Theatre, I realised there is a huge potential for creating deeper work using latin dance forms.  I began to imagine the ‘what ifs!’: “What if we lit or staged it differently?” “What if we changed the costumes slightly?” “What if we looked at creating theme or issue based work?” “Or added technology?” The potentials are endless!

My piece Ladylike (Which we performed at Trinity in March and has received a Lukas award nomination) does just that: it uses Afro Cuban dance to talk about issues around sex, sexuality and the #metoo movement. I think that Latin dance styles lend themselves really well to creating theatre, because they are at a beautiful crossroads of different cultures to creating a dialogue: in particular around subjects about migration, identity and sexuality… but I am sure this list is also endless and I would love to support more artists on this journey!

And so I decided to create Roots of Rumba: A festival that gives Afro-Latin theatre a spotlight on the stage”.


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