Ella Mesma

Foreign Bodies


A protest about ‘dis-ease’: the fear of ‘unknown’ and treating as ‘other’

Building upon themes of religion and science

Foreign bodies in the body, the body system

  ‘Cultural contagion’ as a visual metaphor

The enormity of time


Foreign Bodies is a protest about ‘dis-ease’: the fear of ‘unknown’ and ‘cultural contamination’ as it ‘spreads from one generation to the next’.
Foreign Bodies highlights that despite a worldwide web that knows no borders, we hold onto colonial ideas of border control, illegal immigrants and nationalism. It tells the stories of individuals on a human level, and echoes the bigger story: ancestry, evolution and the haunting manifestation of power structures historically.

Building upon themes of religion and science, the dancers pulsate to Afro House and Kuduro rhythms, intertwining folkloric, contemporary, and hip-hop into a codified subculture.
‘Cultural contagion’ becomes a visual metaphor, and viewers will peer into moments across generations and cultures that illuminate entire life stories and the enormity of time.

‘Foreign Bodies’ interrogates our understandings of cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, and asks whether cultural traditions become lost with globalisation? What remains of our heritage once cultures mix? What is our right and responsibility to our ancestry and h(er)(is)tory?


Ella Mesma

Ella began her dance journey with Salsa and other Latin styles in the UK before discovering aerial through Circo Picolino in Brazil.

She has a Politics and Sociology degree from Leeds University and apprenticed with M & Em Dance Company in Leeds before deciding to pursue Contemporary dance training at Laban and The Place, graduating with a postgraduate diploma in 2011, and where she is currently completing her MA. She then joined Upswing circus in London as an apprentice before deciding to pursue a career in dance. She has since trained internationally in Cuba, Brazil and USA including The Graham school- New York, La Ena- Havana, Deborah Colker- Rio De Janeiro and Funceb- Salvador da Bahia.

As an independent performer, Ella Mesma has danced with acclaimed Sadler’s Wells associate Russell Maliphant Company, Robby Graham (Movement Director for Marianne Elliott’s acclaimed production of Angels in America at the National Theatre), Professional cast of the Olympics Opening Ceremony, poet laureate Warsan Shire and in 2017 was commissioned to make a dance film with Forward Prize winner Mona Arshi.

In 2011-2013 Ella Mesma also studied yoga which informs her teaching and choreographic work along with a diverse range of techniques including contemporary dance, contact work from partner dances, breaking, afro-latin and focloric dances, capoeira and aerial dance. Since 2011 she has collaborated closely with lighting designer Ciaran Cunningham, when she formed Ella Mesma Company.

Ella Mesma formed Ella Mesma Company with solo ‘Evol’ in 2011, quoted as “Unabashedly emotional” (Breakin’ Convention) Sanjoy Roy – The Guardian and danced by “The superb Ella Mesma” Donald Hutera – The Times. Her second work, Ecdysis in 2012 was quoted as “Push(ing) the form (breakdance) beyond battles and bravado” William Drew- Exeunt Magazine (Sadler’s Wells). 
In 2013 Ella Mesma began producing Roots of Rumba, an annual Latin Dance Theatre Festival. In 2013, she was selected as a future Dance Leader for the ABLE leadership program. Having created her first group piece Orixas in 2014, Ella Mesma was awarded a Bench fellowship for emerging female choreographers in 2015.

She was made an Associate Dance Artist at Dance City in 2016 when she created ‘Papillon’, which was featured in “The Dancing Times” as “impressive, audacious, defiant and personal”. The work was supported by the National Circus Centre, and has since been commissioned for Moving Frontiers 2018. She is a 2017 resident artist at the Trinity Centre in Bristol in 2017 working on new creation ‘Foreign Bodies’ quoted as “artistically, scientifically and culturally significant.” by Katy Noakes  (One Dance UK) and “Super exciting work.” by Dan Canham (Still House). In 2017 she curated a sold out Wild Card at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London.


See some video footage of Ella






Go to Ella website here


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