Butterfly wings, contrary to popular belief, are not made up of many colours. The colours and patterns we see are made by the reflection of hundreds of tiny scales covering their white wings. The butterfly represents transformation, life, the soul. A chance for us to find ourselves, our place, our identity.
Commissioned by Dance City as Associate Dance Artist, ‘Papillon’ is my ritual to discover who I am and where I belong as I transform to adulthood, and in response to Theresa May’s statement: “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere.”
Does a person’s ethnic group define their identity? Do different cultures enrich our life experience? How do we define belonging?
When I was born they thought I had jaundice. At primary school, in a small town in the UK, I was called the ‘N’ word. Later, I was asked ‘Is that really your Mum?’ At secondary school, when I braided my hair, I was called ‘wigga’. And as my curves arrived asked, ‘are you Latina?’.
At first glance, I am ‘white passing’, but things are not always as they seem. I have one black and one white parent. Nomad, Mariposa, Mixed Heritage British. Is it only appearance that defines our ethnicity?
Ella Mesma Company (EMC) is an international touring contemporary dance company currently based in Newcastle upon Tyne, North East England, led by Artistic Director Ella Mesma. EMC was founded in 2011 with a solo which premiered at Breakin’ Convention, titled ‘Evol’ (Love backwards) and was officially launched in 2014.
Ella creates work that reflects her background in Latin, Breaking and Contemporary dance theatre and is interested in exploring social, cultural identity and Latin communities under represented in the theatre and on the stage. Since 2011, EMC has toured across the UK and premieres new work ‘Ladylike’ in June at Sadler’s Wells. Ella Mesma Company was Associate Artist at Dance City in Newcastle 2016-2017.
Papillon was performed at PUG Party as part of GIFT Festival 2017.