News Story

*Trigger warning – mentions abortion*

Choreodrome is The Place’s annual artist development programme that gives artists time, resource and space to experiment with and create performance ideas. Taking place each summer, the programme is a great opportunity for Choreodrome artists at different stages of their careers to reflect, explore or continue to work on an artistic interest.

We caught up with one of this year’s Choreodrome artists and London Contemporary Dance School alum Amarnah Ufuoma Cleopatra Osajivbe-Amuludun to chat about what she's been working on during their residency with fellow Choreodrome artist, Stefania Pinato.

Q: Hey Amarnah! Can you tell us about your project?

A: Mine and Stefania’s Choreodrome residency has been dedicated to researching and developing our project Our Choice. This work explores and expresses both of our experiences in and around abortion, focusing on three strands: care, information and activism.

With this project we’re very much looking at how we can create open conversations about how people experience abortion and the stigma that comes with it. The work also touches on other areas that relate to abortion including reproductive rights, healthcare and equality.

Abortion is a challenging process for people and having the shame and stigma on top of that makes it unnecessarily difficult. It’s one of the most stigmatised healthcares and it, ironically, happens to be on people with wombs.

Q: What is the piece like so far?

A: The main thread of the Our Choice narrative is that people have been having abortions for as long as they’ve been having babies, it’s just the ways of doing it have been more difficult or dangerous because of laws and restrictions.

The real focus of the narrative for us is one of empowerment. There is enough rhetoric that degrades people who have abortions. We want to make these voices that are silenced, heard.

At this stage of the Our Choice project, we’re really focusing on the movement. Lea Tirabasso has been involved during our Choreodrome residency and it’s been super helpful to have her point of view on what the movement can be and look like.

Looking at the next stage, and the second round of funding will focus more on developing and crafting the textual aspect of Our Choice.

Q: What did the initial research period involve?

A: Care is an important part of what we are doing with this project, and there has to be care for the people who are involved in the work or for those who come to see it. We had four weeks of consultations with a range of partner organisations including BPAS; Women on Web; Shout Your Abortion; Abortion Talk and Abortion Rights UK, to discuss the context of Our Choice here in the UK.

Q: Tell us about your time as a student at LCDS...

A: When I joined The Place the buzz was great. I definitely felt part of a big family. Unfortunately, I had to take some time out from injury, but I felt supported in my choice to take time out. During my time recovering from injury, I was working outside of the industry and really missed it. Being away from it really made me appreciate what I wanted to do – and that was dance.

I came back feeling really focused. One of the highlights was a six-month exchange programme at The Danish National School of Performing Arts which was super conceptual and interdisciplinary. This experience really spoke to me and steered me in the direction to make work like that.

Q: Aside from your choreographic projects, what else is part of your artistic practice?

A: As an independent artist or freelancer I’ve worked on so many different things. I’ve been involved in children’s theatre working with Second Hand Dance, Made by Katie Green and Anatomical/New Art Collective. I’ve taught different dance and yoga classes, and worked with Kestrel Theatre on a programme that works with people that have been through the prison system. More commercially, I have been in and assisted in the choreography of music videos such as Sampa the Great’s ‘Energy’ and featured in exhibitions at Somerset House and Tate Britain. Very recently I’ve started to get into movement facilitation at festivals including Brainchild, We Out Here and Glastonbury.

When I’m not doing anything dance-related, I’m a hairdresser and occasionally I’ll appear in the odd TV advert. There’s so much variety!

Image credit: Camilla Greenwell Photography.